METRO Rail has recorded 100 million boarding's since service began in January of 2004. Eighteen light-rail vehicles (LRVs) have traveled more than four million miles and achieved this record four years ahead of schedule. METRO's rail fleet is getting a boost with the introduction of 19 Siemens rail cars also. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson lee released the following statement:
"A well-functioning transportation system is critical to the Nation's prosperity. Whether it is by road, transit, aviation, rail, or waterway, we rely on our transportation system to move people and goods safely, facilitate commerce, attract and retain businesses, and support jobs. The President's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget provided $128 billion to support these efforts; including $8 billion in 2012 and $53 billion over six years to reach the President's goal of providing 80 percent of Americans with convenient access to a passenger rail system, featuring high-speed service, within 25 years.
"I invited Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to come to Houston to view the first leg of our light rail system from downtown to the Medical Center. Because of that visit Secretary LaHood made a commitment to Houston and for the first time in 20 years a rail project for Houston was added to the President's budget. That selection helped Houston secure the $900 million Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) -- now we must finish the job. We cannot let one referendum election change Houston's commitment to light rail. The $900 million FFGA signed in 2012 was critical for the regional mobility of the citizens of the vast communities within and around the 18th Congressional District. Such funding is critical for the regional mobility of the citizens of the vast communities within and around the 18th Congressional District.
"The expanded METRO Rail system is an essential element of the region's plans to meet the transportation and environmental challenges of today and tomorrow Light rail eases Houston's growing traffic congestion, improves our air quality and changes the way Houston moves. Houston needs this infrastructure to relieve congestion and provide adequate public transportation, but it also needs this because an investment in Houston's New Start Transit Project means jobs for Houston's constituents through the transportation sector in its communities and around the nation. Light rail will also help our world class facilities and stadiums and help the city attract events like the Superbowl and Olympics like the city of Atlanta has done.
"I understand the vital importance of ensuring we have a developed RAIL and transit system. Houston has been working for over twenty years to bring these New Starts Projects to fruition. Houston is very close to finishing but needs a little assistance to make it to the finish line. I have worked tirelessly to ensure that the METRO RAIL New Starts Project gets completed and gets completed in an expeditious manner.
"Public transportation in the 21st century is leading the way, as more Americans are discovering the benefits of traveling on buses and using light rail. 35 million times each weekday, Americans take public transit. Americans take more than 10 billion trips per year on public transportation--15 times the number of trips they take on domestic airlines. In recent decades, public transportation ridership has increased faster than the U.S. population and the use of the nation's highways."