WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced approval of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) corrective action plan to improve the safety of its Metrorail and Metrobus systems as required by an FTA Safety Directive. FTA now calls on WMATA to provide unwavering focus and attention to effectively implement the plan and better provide the level of safety its passengers and workers deserve.
“WMATA must demonstrate a renewed commitment to set a higher standard of safety for its riders and employees,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “This plan is an opportunity for WMATA to make lasting changes and restore public confidence in its system.”
Using the new safety oversight authorities established under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012 (MAP-21), FTA conducted a Safety Management Inspection (SMI) in the spring of 2015 and evaluated WMATA’s operations and maintenance programs, safety management capabilities, and organizational structures to assess compliance with WMATA’s own procedures and rules, federal regulations and FTA Safety Advisories. The SMI revealed several areas of organizational deficiency and operational concerns and included 54 safety findings, 44 for Metrorail and 10 for Metrobus.
In June 2015, FTA issued a Safety Directive to WMATA detailing 91 required actions to address the safety concerns identified by the SMI, including 78 actions to be completed by Metrorail and 13 by Metrobus. The Safety Directive also directed WMATA to submit for FTA approval a corrective action plan to address each of the required actions.
“It is critical that WMATA effectively implement its corrective action plan,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “And on a broader scale, to truly manage its safety risk on an ongoing basis, WMATA must demonstrate strong and consistent leadership, combined with a strong safety culture throughout its organization.”
McMillan stressed that the WMATA board of directors and its management team must closely monitor the time and resources made available to carry out this corrective action plan, particularly for those items related to the Rail Operations Control Center, employee safety training, and system maintenance, including increasing track time for maintenance work.
The FTA will closely track and monitor WMATA’s implementation progress. A required action will be closed only after WMATA has met related performance measures and FTA can verify that WMATA has demonstrated its successful implementation. In addition, FTA will consult with WMATA’s State Safety Oversight Agency, the Tri-State Oversight Committee, before closing required actions related to Metrorail.
Under the approved plan submitted by WMATA, most of the 91 required actions will be completed during the 2015-2017 time period, with a few actions extending into 2019.