DOT chief to meet with DC-area officials about Metro safety

DOT chief to meet with DC-area officials about Metro safety
© file photo

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 is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with officials from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia about safety issues on the Washington Metrorail subway system. 

The meeting, at the transportation department’s headquarters in Washington, is scheduled to be added by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R), according to a scheduled released Tuesday by the mayor’s office. 

Foxx has raised questions about Metro’s commitment to safety after a passenger was killed on a train that filled with smoke experiencing after an electrical malfunction in January. 

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The transportation department released a report in June that identified 78 fixes for the agency that operates the capital area subway system, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). 

“These are serious findings that strongly indicate that, despite gains made since the Fort Totten accident, WMATA’s safety program is inadequate,” Foxx said in a statement about the report, which was conducted by the DOT’s Federal Transit Administration. 

“WMATA management, its board of directors and its state safety oversight agency must work together to address FTA’s required actions, because the safety of passengers and personnel must be the top priority,” he continued. 

Metro leaders have come under fire for their handling of the January incident and their finances as local leaders have questioned the agency’s management of resources it receives from the federal and state governments and local municipalities. 

Investigators have attributed the problem with the train, which was heading toward Northern Virginia on Metro's Yellow Line, was caused by faulty insulator on the subway tracks that was generating too much heat, trapping passengers underground in smoke-filled cars.

The incident resulted in Metro’s first passenger fatality since a high-profile crash on the Red Line in 2009 that killed nine people and led to widespread changes at the capital-area transit agency.

The meeting with Foxx on Tuesday comes as the capital area transit agency is in the midst of a search for a new general manager after its former chief, Richard Sarles, resigned shortly before the January smoke incident. 

The agency’s search for a new leader has produced disagreement among the jurisdictions the subway operates in about the qualifications the agency should be looking for in its next chief. 

Foxx will likely to try mediate some of those disagreements during Tuesday’s meeting.