USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Safety Management Inspection of WMATA Operations

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Contact: Nathan Robinson

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced that it is conducting a safety management inspection of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) rail and bus transit system. The purpose of the inspection is to help WMATA assess the strengths and weaknesses of the safety of operations and identify areas where the agency can further reduce risks and make other safety improvements. This is the second time FTA has undertaken a comprehensive evaluation of a transit agency’s safety operations utilizing its new safety regulatory authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Additional information on the implementation of FTA’s safety program is available here.

“Safety is a shared responsibility and our goal is to ensure that WMATA is living up to the expectation of the FTA and, perhaps most importantly, the expectations of the public,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We will be vigilant and thorough in our safety inspection of WMATA and instruct the agency on how to close any gaps that we find.”

The safety management inspection is an opportunity for WMATA to test the effectiveness of a Safety Management System (SMS) approach and gather critical data to establish the agency’s safety risk profile. FTA has adopted SMS, which is widely used in other transportation industries, to support comprehensive programs and performance as a means of implementing its new safety regulatory provisions. SMS focuses on organization-wide safety policy, proactive hazard management, strong safety communication between workers and management, targeted safety training, and clear responsibilities for critical safety activities. More information on SMS is available here.

FTA’s safety management inspection of WMATA is separate from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation of the incident near L’Enfant Plaza. FTA will continue to support the NTSB as a party to its investigation and provide expertise and assistance wherever requested.

“While FTA participates as a party to the NTSB investigation of the tragic incident that occurred near the L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail station, we are also working with WMATA to conduct a comprehensive safety management inspection of its transit system,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “As the FTA implements our new safety authority, we remain committed to fostering sound policy and a strong safety culture at every transit system.”

The WMATA safety management inspection, scheduled to begin March 2, 2015, will entail three major activities that will help develop an SMS approach:

  • An SMS gap analysis, including SMS training across several levels of WMATA and a safety culture assessment survey for front-line personnel and supervisors;
  • A rail safety inspection, whereby FTA will conduct an evaluation of WMATA’s rail operations and maintenance programs to acquire the safety information and data needed to support meaningful analysis of safety risks; and
  • A bus safety assessment, conducted in a similar manner to the rail safety assessment.

At the conclusion of the inspection, FTA and WMATA will summarize the results of this safety management inspection and develop a roadmap to help WMATA build a mature and effective SMS process.

Concurrent to the safety management inspection, FTA is also conducting a State Safety Oversight (SSO) audit of the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC) and its oversight of WMATA. FTA will issue a final report later this year.