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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) debuted the first of its 7000-series rail cars on its Blue Line as part of the agency's effort to improve safety and rider comfort.In a ceremony yesterday, U.S. Department of Transportation, state and local officials joined WMATA representatives to mark the cars' arrival.The new cars will replace WMATA's 1000-series cars, which the National Transportation Safety Board recommended replacing following a collision in June 2009 that left nine people dead and more than 50 injured. The new cars will supplant all 300 of these older models, which have been in service for nearly 40 years.In honor of the new rail cars, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillian and USDOT Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez joined Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser."The time has arrived to retire the oldest, 1000-series rail cars in the Metrorail fleet and replace them with a new generation of safer vehicles," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan in a press release.The FTA provided more than $80 million toward replacing the 1000-series rail cars, plus more than $54 million for 64 new rail cars through its Capital Investment Program.