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Say goodbye to the most recently proposed solution for Metro.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has put the kibosh on the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendations issued Sept. 30 to bring Metrorail under the “direct oversight” of the Federal Railroad Administration, the Washington Post reports. NTSB pitched the change as a way to boost both safety and accountability for the transit system, citing the FRA’s engineering expertise and the “unacceptable” workings of the Tri-State Oversight Committee, the body that currently oversees Metro. USDOT spokesperson Suzanne Emmerling told the Post that Foxx doesn’t think the NTSB’s “urgent” recommendations are “the wisest or fastest way to bring about the necessary safety improvements” to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“The NTSB is not wrong to assert that urgent action is needed; we just believe that there is an even more effective and faster way to achieve the safety goals we all share,” Emmerling explained in an email, according to the paper. Foxx apparently has bigger plans for improving Metro that wouldn’t just involve shifting regulatory oversight of it from one USDOT department from another. (Neither NTSB nor Metro had immediate comments on the decision.)
In July, Foxx met discreetly with the top executive leaders of the region—Mayor Muriel Bowser, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe—to discuss reforming the beleaguered transit agency. They reportedly talked about finding Metro a new general manager in addition to safety and money issues.
“Certainly from our perspective in the District, I think we’re working from the same page to make sure that the system is the best that it can be,” Bowser told WTOP after the meeting. (The two governors were similarly mum.)
When the NTSB announced its recommendations, the USDOT said in a statement that it was “exploring all options to improve [WMATA’s] record, including a range of approaches that will allow us to directly increase Federal safety oversight.” The City Paper‘s cover story offers a wide variety of other potential fixes for Metro.