By: Allan M. Siegel
recently blogged, Metro’s rail system is currently overseen by the Federal Transit
Administration (“FTA”), an agency within the U.S. Department
of Transportation (“DOT”). To fix Metro’s endemic safety
problems on its rail system, the National Transportation Safety Board
recommended that Metro’s rail system be reclassified under federal
law as a railroad, so that oversight power would transfer from the FTA
to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Days later, on October 9, the Secretary of the DOT instead chose a more
conservative approach. The Secretary, Anthony Foxx, decided that transferring
oversight away from the FTA would create bureaucratic confusion and slow
down efforts to improve safety. Instead, Secretary Foxx has adopted a
more conservative proposal, that will add greater oversight power to the
FTA. In effect, safety on Metro’s rail system is now a federal responsibility,
enforced by the FTA. Day-to-day operations will remain a Metro responsibility,
but the FTA will be able to conduct surprise inspections and issue directives
to Metro to immediately address safety problems in the rail system.
This is not as radical a plan as the National Transportation Safety Board’s
proposal, but hopefully greater federal control will save Metro riders
from the dysfunction of the current system – and prevent future
injuries and deaths. In any event, of course, lawsuits and the judicial
system will remain an important tool to ensure that Metro is held accountable
for accidents, and has an incentive to avoid them.
If you or anyone you know has been injured in a
Metro accident, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel,
P.C., for a free consultation.