On August 24, 2016, FTA released a Safety Directive to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) requiring the transit agency to complete six actions to address the serious safety concern of rail vehicle securement in the Metrorail system. The Safety Directive is based on six significant findings set out in a Rail Vehicle Securement Investigation Report that was also released.
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.