Metro Moves Ahead with ‘Economic Stimulus’ Projects

WASHINGTON — Metro is moving forward with spending nearly $202 million on “economic stimulus projects” that include fixing crumbling platforms, repairing tracks and buying new hybrid-electric buses, the agency said.

Metro’s Board approved a revised list of 29 projects and moving ahead with awarding nearly 100 contracts and purchases. The first purchase is expected to be made at the end of April for about 45 new hybrid-electric buses with a manufacturer Metro has already contracted with to make Metrobuses. Metro previously announced $230 million in planned stimulus projects, but the list was pared down after some of the funds went to other regional transit agencies.

“No one was expecting these additional federal funds a year ago, so this is a great opportunity for Metro to make needed infrastructure improvements that were previously unfunded and at the same time help improve the region’s economy,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe.

Metro added three projects — heavy-duty track equipment; the replacement of the Southeastern bus garage, which was located next to the Nationals Ballpark, and the purchase of new financial system integration software which would improve financial operations and reporting.

Metro added more money to buy buses and track maintenance equipment and trimmed spending for emergency tunnel evacuation carts and MetroAccess vehicle replacement and expansion although funds will still go toward those vital programs. A railcar inspection and test facility and energy efficient station lighting were removed from the list. However, Metro plans to apply for other federal grants for the station lighting.

The projects target improved passenger and maintenance facilities, safety and security, information technology, operations and equipment.

Some examples of Metro’s stimulus projects include:

  • Replacing Metro’s oldest diesel buses with new hybrid-electric buses
  • Replacing crumbling platforms
  • Installing SmarTrip purchase capabilities at more Metro fare vending machines
  • Enhancing bus garage security
  • Installing technologies to improve bus route and schedule information
  • Rehabilitating the oldest stretch of track in the rail system
  • Replacing the Southeastern bus garage
  • Updating train arrival signs on platforms and mezzanines
  • Replacing the Metro Center Customer Sales Facility
  • Expanding and replacing vehicles for paratransit service

Metro created a special Web site to track stimulus projects and spending. It debuts late tomorrow at http://www.wmata.com/stimulus.