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Today’s one-year anniversary of the devastating Red Line metro crash has had the local scribes doing assessments, as they are wont to do, of Whether Anything Has Changed. The Examiner‘s story, from yesterday, runs through the safety initiatives that are still in progress, and ends on a glass-half-full note:
But the kinds of real changes that will make the system safer take time, observers say, and the tide is starting to turn.
Matthew Bassett, chairman of the Tri-State Oversight Committee charged with monitoring Metrorail’s safety, said Metro has made “a significant amount of progress” on its safety initiatives. He said officials need to make sure they get it right. “If they rushed, they might as well not bother,” he said.
[Ben] Ross agrees, noting that the underlying cultural shift that needs to occur will not happen immediately. And still, he said, “The most dangerous part of the trip on Metro remains crossing the street to get to the station.”
A year after the deadliest accident in Metro’s history, the transit authority’s safety record has worsened, and officials acknowledge that there has been too little progress.
The crash was a catalyst for an examination of transit safety nationwide — spurring a push by the Obama administration for federal oversight legislation, a shakeup in Metro leadership and unparalleled scrutiny of the agency by the National Transportation Safety Board, which now has four open investigations into incidents at Metro.
So far, however, the legislation remains stalled in Congress, state oversight is fractured and weak, Metro lacks a permanent leadership team, and the NTSB’s final report on the cause of last June’s Red Line crash, which killed nine and injured dozens, isn’t expected until late July.
“There are significant deficiencies in their safety culture,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. “We do not see the frequency of accidents on other properties that we are seeing on Metro.”
And WTOP’s Adam Tuss focuses on the continuing emotional toll on those who were touched by the crash, putting on display the heartache that many escaped. In part two of a three-part series, survivors tell Tuss that Metro’s condolences weren’t enough, and that most safety recommendations haven’t been addressed.
So, do you want to be happy or sad this morning about Metro’s progress over the last year? Now you know who to read.