On February 10, 2017, FTA notified the transit systems in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia that effective immediately it will withhold five percent of Fiscal Year 2017 transit formula funds until a new State Safety Oversight Program (SSOP) is certified for WMATA rail operations. One year ago, FTA informed the governors and the mayor that failure to obtain a certified SSOP by February 9, 2017 may result in the withholding of federal transit funds.
In October 2015, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation directed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to assume temporary and direct safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system. FTA is performing this safety oversight responsibility in place of the current and ineffective Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC).
The responsibility for improving the safe operation of the Metrorail system, including the performance of daily inspections and preventative maintenance, sits squarely on WMATA. The FTA WMATA Safety Oversight Team’s role is to verify WMATA’s progress on implementing safety-related Corrective Action Plans and remedial actions, and to ensure that WMATA is effectively carrying out its own critical maintenance, operations, and training programs.
This enhanced safety oversight adds to other activities previously undertaken by FTA including initiating a comprehensive Safety Management Inspection of WMATA in February 2015 and subsequently issuing Safety Directive 15-1 in June 2015.
FTA’s Corrective Action Plan tracking table provides a searchable table of findings and the status of each action WMATA is required to implement. FTA is also conducting on-the-ground inspections, leading accident investigation, and performing audits and safety blitzes, which may result in additional required actions. FTA is also exercising its authority to direct the use of federal funding received by WMATA to ensure that federal dollars are improving Metrorail safety.
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.