Feds move to beef up transit safety oversight

Feds move to beef up transit safety oversight
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The Department of Transportation (DOT) is moving to boost safety on U.S. public transportation systems after recent deadly accidents on the Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway and New York Metro-North commuter rail systems.

Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Lyft sues New York over new driver minimum pay law Lyft confidentially files for IPO MORE said Friday that his agency is proposing new rules that would allow states to set up independent oversight agencies that would serve as watchdogs for local public transit systems. 

Foxx said the changes would reassure passengers after the recent spate of fatal public transportation accidents. 

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"The fact remains that transit rail is still one of the safest ways to travel in the U.S, but at U.S. DOT we feel we have an obligation to make safer, not just for the Yellow line here in Washington, but for everywhere across the country," he said, referencing a fatal Jan. 12 Metro smoke incident.  

The Metro accident was followed by a collision on the Metro-North commuter railway just outside of New York City that killed seven people.  

The Transportation Department's proposal calls for strengthening State Safety Oversight Agencies that were established in the infrastructure funding bill that was approved by Congress in 2012. The DOT is calling for making them "financially and legally independent of the rail transit systems they oversee." 

Acting Federal Transit Administration (FTA) chief Therese McMillan said the proposal would bring oversight of local public transit systems closer to where they are being operated. 

“FTA appreciates the continued cooperation and engagement of our state and rail transit industry partners as we take this major step forward toward a new safety regulatory framework,” McMillan said. “We drafted the proposed rule to ensure it allows for the flexibility and scalability needed to provide effective safety benefits for passengers and employees of transit agencies of all sizes and operating environments.”

The proposal was announced by Foxx during a visit to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station, which is served by Amtrak, D.C. Metro and commuter rail trains.