WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced in a letter to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia departments of transportation and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) that it will utilize up to $900,000 from funds originally allocated to those agencies to conduct Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail safety oversight work. The funds will be used to hire contractors to specifically participate in FTA’s oversight efforts in an effort to eventually transfer that knowledge and expertise to the new Metrorail Safety Commission (MSC), as the three jurisdictions fully deploy that agency and it becomes certified as a State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA).
“As D.C., Maryland and Virginia work to stand up the Metrorail Safety Commission, they will need the right people in place with the knowledge, skill, and expertise to effectively oversee Metrorail safety on day one,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This action will give them immediate access to competent personnel who have already been on the ground inspecting safety at WMATA.”
FTA will use up to $900,000, which is part of a $1.6 million federal allocation intended to be used by MWCOG to create the MSC. The FTA contractors will perform inspection, investigation and other oversight activities and transfer the knowledge learned to the new SSOA once it is established. FTA will begin utilizing these safety oversight funds immediately. Any funds not used by FTA will be made available to the jurisdictions for future SSOA purposes.
“The jurisdictions’ daily involvement in FTA’s oversight of Metrorail will provide valuable knowledge that will expedite the transition of oversight responsibilities from FTA to the new SSOA,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “By taking this action now, it will further invest D.C., Maryland and Virginia in developing and strengthening the new WMATA State Safety Oversight Agency.”
In October 2015, FTA exercised its statutory-safety authority and assumed the direct, but temporary, safety oversight role over the WMATA Metrorail system.
FTA’s role is temporary and will continue until the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia replace the TOC with a new State Safety Oversight Agency that complies with federal law and is capable of performing its WMATA Metrorail safety oversight responsibilities.