U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to investigate the safety practices of the Washington, D.C., mass transit system.

Investigation of Washington, D.C. Metro Rail Safety Sought

Maryland's senior senator, Democrat Barbara Mikulski, asked DOT to examine whether Tri-State Oversight Committee safety monitors are not being granted access to the transit system's subway tracks.

Maryland's senior senator, Democrat Barbara Mikulski, sent a letter Nov. 9 asking U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to investigate the safety practices of the Washington, D.C., mass transit system in light of recent problems, including the collision of two trains on June 22 that prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to request increased redundancy on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s train control systems.

"Time after time after time, we hear about safety practices at Metro that give us pause. If Metro is found to be out of compliance and does not allow monitors to observe Metro safety procedures while its trains are in normal service, then rest assured I will be looking at how WMATA uses its federal funding," Mikulski said. "The people who rely on Metro every day can't pause from their jobs, or from school, or from taking care of their families. And they shouldn't have to pause, worrying about their safety when they get on the Metro. That's why I've introduced the National Metro Safety Act and fought for a dedicated source of funding for Metro. Metro has to do its utmost to protect the safety of its riders and employees. Anything less is unacceptable," she added in a statement posted on her official Web site.

Mikulski is a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee that funds WMATA. Her bill directs the DOT secretary, in consultation with NTSB, to develop safety standards for all metropolitan rail transit systems; Mikulski noted NTSB has identified several areas that could be improved, including minimum crashworthiness standards, improved evacuation and rescue features on rail transit cars, data recorders, and hours of service limits for operators.

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