At its November 2015 meeting, the COG Board of Directors was briefed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan regarding U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx’s recent announcement directing the FTA to assume temporary safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system from the Tri-State Oversight Committee and urging the swift establishment of a new state safety oversight agency to provide long-term regulatory safety oversight for WMATA.
McMillan said that Secretary Foxx’s action resulted from a number of safety concerns, and she reiterated that WMATA is responsible for Metrorail daily operations, management, and safety. She added that the FTA’s temporary safety oversight role would focus on ensuring and verifying that WMATA implements all approved corrective actions, conducting on-the-ground inspections and leading event investigations, and exercising authority to direct use of federal funds received by WMATA.
In addition to pointing out FTA’s oversight activities, McMillan also noted COG’s role in supporting Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, to expedite the creation of a new State Safety Oversight Agency consistent with federal requirements. This independent “Metro Safety Commission”, a new legal entity currently under development, will have strong enforcement authority for safety oversight over Metrorail as called for in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
McMillan told area leaders at COG that their “role as a catalyst can move the transition effort forward” from the Tri-State Oversight Committee to the Metro Safety Commission. Officials thanked the administrator for her remarks and pledged to work across borders to advance legislation to establish the multi-state commission.