DC Council Looks To Form Metro Oversight Board Amid Safety Lapses

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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In the wake of repeated safety failures, the D.C. Council is proposing a new Metro oversight board to ensure workers are observing safety protocols.

The proposal would create an oversight body with representatives from the District, Virginia and Maryland to address growing concerns over the relaxed safety culture at the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA).

Numerous reports from federal investigators have repeatedly shown employees violating safety rules throughout the system. The Council will hear testimony on the proposed reform Tuesday, reports WJLA.

A federal transportation law passed in 2012 requires officials with the D.C. Metro to bolster their safety oversight of the transit system, which is currently conducted by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Previous safety boards faced criticisms over their failure to enforce rules and penalize workers who violated protocols.

If the proposal is approved by the D.C. Council, it will still need to be voted on in Virginia and Maryland. Proponents are hopeful that all three jurisdictions will pass the agreement by early 2017. The proposal comes amid reports of squabbling on the D.C. Metro board of directors.

Metro Board Chairman and Council member Jack Evans derided the 16-member board that oversees the system in late September for being unwieldy and lacking a sense of urgency to fix the deteriorating transit system. In his view, the board members fail to appreciate the bigger picture of the problems facing the struggling Metro service and act in the self interests of their individual jurisdictions.

“Here we are in the death spiral, and everybody is acting the same way,” Evans told The Washington Post. “It just drives me nuts.”

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