WASHINGTON – The Federal Transit Administration and Metro have reached a $173.3 million agreement to buy dozens of new rail cars for the transit system serving the nation’s capital.
The federal government is committing $104 million in federal funds over the next three years so Metro can implement 20 percent eight-car train operations by the end of this year. The remaining funds will be contributed by the local jurisdictions that Metro serves.
The first of the new 6000 series rail cars which are scheduled to enter passenger service later this summer, feature an interior that has been completely redesigned to allow for additional standing room and easier access to all portions of the car. By expanding to 20 percent eight-car train operations by the end of the year, Metrorail will be able to transport 14,000 more people per hour on an average weekday or in case of an emergency.
“We are pleased that the federal government has stepped up and recognized the critical role Metro plays in moving the federal workforce,” said Gladys Mack, Metro Board Chair. “Metro was built primarily to serve the Federal Government and nearly half of our peak ridership are federal employees.”
With gasoline prices rising and Metrorail ridership projected to increase five percent in the next year, more rail cars are urgently needed to alleviate severe crowding, Metro officials contend.
The $173.3 million agreement is part of a larger $600 million, six-year rail car program to buy 122 rail cars, upgrade traction power facilities, train control and rail yards to accommodate the new cars. Suburban Maryland, northern Virginia and the District of Columbia will provide approximately $500 million toward the cost of the new rail cars and facilities, 83 percent of the cost, while the federal government will cover 17 percent.