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Posted at 9:01 AM ET, 01/21/2011

Spending cuts would hit Amtrak, Metro

By Washington Post Editors

[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.

By Washington Post Editors  | January 21, 2011; 9:01 AM ET
Categories:  Amtrak, Metro, MetroAccess, Metrobus  
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Comments

But with 15 percent fewer feds, Metro won't need so much money.

Of course, they'll reduce service starting today either way.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 20, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

That's right, make it more difficult to get to work. Idiots.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 20, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

What do they care about Metro and Amtrak? They make six figures for doing nothing, have a private Capitol Subway, and they don't pay for intercity travel to go back to their home districts. I don't suppose they would fire 15% of congressional staffers.

Posted by: jcepler1 | January 21, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

This is just plain crazy. Amtrak and Metro need that money. Deep-six the ridiculous Purple Line -- put that money toward WMATA and the regional bus sytems, RideOn and The Bus. Purple Line supporters keep crowing about all the federal money they hope to get. Developers dream of land they can gobble up, of rezoning they can get. Local governments dream of luxury hi-rises that they can pump for tax revenue. Wake up and smell the coffee. We must keep the transit we have. It has to be safe, and it has to work.

Posted by: catbird500 | January 21, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

With the national economy still reeling from the greatest downturn since the Great Depression, it's amazing that some members of Congress still haven't learned the lessons of that tragic time. America built its way out of the Depression with massive reinvestment packages in the New Deal. We can do the same again by investing massively in national infrastructure. It's also been shown that investments in public transit create more jobs than investments in roads and highways. We need every job we can get at this point. It would dangerous and short-sighted to cut the federal transportation budget in the midst of such a serious economic crisis. Fight for transit in your area. Visit www.transportationequity.org and find a TEN affiliate in your area.

Posted by: davin900 | January 21, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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