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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sen. Durbin to champion capital funding bill for nation's seven largest transit systems


Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced he's drafting legislation to be considered in the next surface transportation bill that aims to help the country's largest transit agencies bring their systems to a state of good repair.

The announcement followed results from a survey released last week by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that showed one-third of the facilities, stations and vehicles used in the seven largest transit-rail systems — located in Chicago, Boston, New York City, New Jersey, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. — are "less than adequate."

The federal government is under-funding the rail systems by $5.9 billion annually, Durbin said in a statement, adding that the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra alone have nearly $6 billion in state-of-good repair needs.

During the past 15 years, the seven largest transit systems went from receiving 90 percent of federal rail modernization funds to 70 percent. To correct the disparity and help address the $50 billion needed to bring the agencies' systems back to a state of good repair, FTA recommended creating a new temporary funding program to eliminate the existing backlog of projects, and reconfiguring the existing rail modernization formula to more evenly match funding allocations and capital reinvestment needs.