WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 28, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Ranking Member of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, today decried the House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill, released today, for cutting in half federal funding to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) from $150 million to $75 million. Norton said the annual funding provided to WMATA is part of a 10-year, $1.5 billion promise from Congress that was made and delivered only after nine District of Columbia-area residents were tragically killed in a 2009 Metro crash because of a track circuit malfunction paired with unsafe rail cars. Norton helped to get the funding authorization signed into law as a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and now serves as the Ranking Member of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over WMATA. This year’s funding is the seventh installment of that authorization and would be the first one below the $150 authorized level.
“I am appalled that the House appropriators have added language emphasizing safety to their bill, while dealing a massive cut to WMATA’s major safety initiatives, including implementing the new 7000-series cars, which have drastically improved crashworthiness,” Norton said. “More than half of Metro’s rush hour passengers are federal workers, and the federal government cannot operate without Metro. To drastically cut the funds in the seventh year is to derail WMATA’s most important safety priorities. Regional members and I have been unsparing in our criticism of recent Metro safety incidents, but pleased at the immediate remediation that has occurred. However, it has taken years to ensure that millions of visitors to the national capital region and its residents can safely ride Metro in cars that will not crumple on themselves in the event of a crash. Hundreds of these cars remain to be added to the Metro fleet in part because WMATA had to do multiple improvements, such as track improvements, at the same time as replacing old cars.
Slowing getting new cars on the rails puts at risk the safety millions of visitors from around the country and the world, and the thousands of commuters from across our region who rely on Metro every day. Working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, I am making every attempt to restore the needed funding for the safety of Metro riders.”