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New facility will keep WMATA, passengers moving forward

New facility will keep WMATA, passengers moving forward

When it’s time to take your car in for a tune-up, you want a shop that’s got the right equipment and can turn the job around quickly so you can get back on the road. America's transit agencies need the same qualities in their bus maintenance facilities.

That's why the Federal Transit Administration helps transit systems modernize their bus shops and keep their fleet in a state of good repair.

Photo of bus maintenance in Austin, TX, courtesy Evan Gearing

One place we're doing just that is in Northern Virginia, where the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) has had to rely on a bus maintenance facility that was built in 1945. This maintenance center is not just old and deteriorating – it’s from another era and can’t even accommodate WMATA's newer, more efficient buses.

Today, I joined Congressman Jim Moran and officials from Fairfax County, Alexandria, and WMATA to break ground on WMATA's new Cinder Bed Road Bus Facility. This state-of-the-art facility, funded in part by $58 million from FTA, will feature new and more reliable equipment to improve the maintenance of 160 buses and service newer, alternative fuel buses that require space and equipment the current garage lacks.

Rendering of the new WMATA Cinder Bed Road bus maintenance facility.
Rendering of the new WMATA Cinder Bed Road bus maintenance facility.
A metro bus garage
The 1945 Alexandria WMATA garage to be replaced.

This will improve service for the thousands of riders who depend on WMATA's buses to get where they need to go. The new facility will also allow WMATA to grow its bus service, connecting even more people to ladders of opportunity in the decades to come.

By 2040, the population of the DC metro area is expected to grow 24 percent to more than 6.5 million people. While many of these people will choose to drive their own vehicles, roadway capacity will not be able to keep up. That’s a recipe for increased traffic--and frustration--in a region where the roads are already congested.

In the Washington area and around the country, bus service provides a vital link for transit riders but to keep up with growing demand, we must maintain our existing buses, stations, roads, and rail in a state of good repair.

Maintaining those assets is key to serving more people, getting Americans to work and home on time, and doing it in a way that minimizes the impact on our air and climate.

President Obama has made investing in transit central to his strategy on climate change and economic growth. He has focused particularly on meeting our nation’s aging infrastructure needs, which for transit amounts to nearly $80 billion.

To meet the challenges of growth in northern Virginia and throughout the country, we must protect the investments we’ve already made and make sure we have the ability to maintain them, keeping buses and people on the move.

Our support for WMATA's Cinder Bed Road Bus Facility is a step in that direction.

Peter Rogoff is Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

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