Spending cuts would hit Amtrak, Metro
[This post has been updated]
Federal transportation funding would take a hit under the "Spending Reduction Act" being proposed Thursday afternoon by some conservative House Republicans.
The plan from the Republican Study Committee, which represents 165 members, would cut $2.5 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years. According to the Post's Lori Montgomery, that would be achieved primarily by cutting non-defense spending to 2006 levels and firing 15 percent of federal workers.
The legislation calls for eliminating the $1.5 billion annual subsidy for Amtrak, $2.5 billion in high-speed rail grants and $150 million in annual funding for Metro.
In 2008 Congress authorized $1.5 billion in federal funds for safety-related capital improvements at Metro over the next 10 years. The money must be appropriated by Congress each year and requires the District, Maryland and Virginia to each contribute $50 million annually in matching funds.
Metro spokesman Lisa Farbstein said the proposed cuts "could have serious consequences for Metro." The transit authority has used or plans to use the dedicated federal funding for several improvements, which include replacing its oldest rail cars; upgrading worn equipment; and rehabilitating track and rail systems, she said.
"This type of proposed cut would have a detrimental impact on Metro's safety, state of good repair program and impair our ability to fund the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations associated with the June 22, 2009 rail accident," Farbstein said.
The NTSB found in its investigation of that crash, which killed nine people, that nearly half of the 3,000 track circuit modules Metro uses could seriously malfunction and that a quarter of its rail cars, the oldest in the fleet, offer little protection in a crash, posing an "unacceptable risk to Metrorail users." The board recommended that the troublesome equipment and old rail cars be permanently removed as soon as possible.
The Metro board approved the purchase of new rail cars this summer, with deliveries expected to begin in 2013, and has begun replacing track circuits.
Washington Post Editors
| January 21, 2011; 9:01 AM ET
Categories: Amtrak, Metro, MetroAccess, Metrobus
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