The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $150 million for Metro Wednesday in the federal transportation bill for fiscal year 2012.

The funding is the third installment of federal funds, totaling $1.5 billion, to the transit agency and is meant to be used to for capital needs and to improve safety on Metro’s rail system. Metro was sharply criticized for its safety record after the deadly 2009 crash on the Red Line that killed eight passengers and one Metro employee and injured dozens more.

“For all that Metro does to keep government running, get people to work and get cars off the road, this investment in Metro is about safety,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, in a statement.

The federal funds will be used to replace Metro’s oldest rail cars and improve track signaling. Under the agreement, the funds be matched by Maryland, the District and Virginia. Legislation passed in 2008 authorized $1.5 billion in federal monies over 10 years to try to help Metro improve its aging system.

“Without this federal funding, Metro would lose matching funds from the local jurisdictions that will be used to make important, life-saving improvements,” Mikulski said.

The bill will move to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not been scheduled.

The House version of the 2012 transportation bill includes a measure to give Virginia more seats on the board of directors for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). The airports authority is overseeing the construction of the new Metro line to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.

U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R) wants to increase the MWAA board to 17 seats instead of the current 13 and give Virginia the additional seats. The MWAA board came out Wednesday against Wolf’s measure.

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