Audit of FTA Oversight Announced

The audit's objective is to assess FTA's actions to assume and relinquish direct safety oversight of a transit agency.

The inspector general's office of the U.S. Department of Transportation is beginning an audit of the Federal Transit Administration's safety oversight of Metrorail, the Washington, D.C., rail transit system, and other new responsibility that FTA was granted by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. The State Safety Oversight (SSO) program was created in 1991, and FTA oversees the SSO agencies that monitor the safety of rail transit agencies. But the act increased the agency's role -- it allows FTA to assume SSO responsibilities if there is no effective agency in place. The Metrorail responsibility was added in October 2015 by the secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, until Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia establish a fully functioning and capable agency.

The audit's objective is to assess FTA's actions to assume and relinquish direct safety oversight of a transit agency. "Recent accidents have demonstrated weaknesses in the safety performance and oversight of some rail transit systems," according to the OIG's office. It cites a January 2015 incident on a Metrorail train in which one passenger died and 86 passengers were treated at medical facilities.

The audit is to begin immediately.

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