Obama administration to states: Get ready for more transit oversight

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The change LaHood was touting gives the federal government power, for the first time, to do more than tie safety requirements for public transportation systems in the United States to future funding. Previously, transit systems were primarily overseen by the local and state governments that appropriated their money for them.

Rogoff said having a national set of standards would make public transportation more safe for riders across the country.

“We are closing a loophole in how transit safety oversight is regulated and enforced that is long overdue,” Rogoff said. “For the first time FTA will be able to establish basic safety standards to better ensure the safety of tens of millions of passengers that ride public transportation each day.”

The increase in federal regulation of public transportation has particularly been sought by members of Congress who represent jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia that are served by the metro Washington, D.C.’s area’s Metrorail system.

A crash on the Metrorail system in 2009 killed nine people and greatly increased the attention paid in Congress to the lack of national regulation of public transportation.