In closing, I would
like to recognize the hard work of the NTSB staff in producing this report, and
to thank my fellow Board Members for their very thoughtful participation in the
list of recommendations, if acted upon, will result in safer operations on
Metrorail. But many of them are remedial corrective actions that can and should
have been required and enforced by an effective safety oversight agency before they
caused an accident.
Presently the FTA
exercises safety oversight over WMATA’s rail operations. We remain concerned
that FTA has no prior experience in direct safety oversight or as a state
safety oversight agency, has limited staff to carry out the function, and does
not have the authority to levy civil or individual penalties in response to
The District of
Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia continue to work on a more robust replacement
for the TOC, but it is not yet established, and the timeline for establishing
it is not yet determined. Yet the Department of Transportation has emphasized
the temporary nature of direct FTA safety oversight over WMATA, at one point referring
to this role as “babysitting.”
Safety oversight is
not babysitting. It is an ongoing, far-reaching responsibility. For oversight
to be effective it needs effective enforcement capabilities.
Because state-level safety
oversight has failed in regard to WMATA, and the prospect of successful
state-level oversight of WMATA is an uncertain one, Metrorail needs direct
federal safety oversight and will continue to need direct federal safety oversight
for the foreseeable future.
We urge the Secretary
of Transportation to reconsider our recommendation to seek authority to designate
WMATA as a commuter authority, and effect the transfer of WMATA’s rail safety oversight
to the FRA.
Before we close this
meeting I’d like to thank Joe Gordon, who was the investigator-in-charge in
this investigation. This is your first time as an IIC and I want to thank you
and your staff for this excellent report and for your outstanding work.
We stand adjourned.