The head of the U.S. Federal Transit Administration told a group of senators last Wednesday that his agency needed more authority to keep commuters safe when they ride buses, subways and light rail trains across the nation.
Recently confirmed FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff informed members of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development about increases in the rate of transit accidents and the deteriorating condition of equipment and safety controls. A Los Angeles Times report on Rogoff’s testimony quoted him as saying, “The new administration finds this unacceptable and we expect to propose reforms.”
The reforms Rogoff and other federal transportation are seeking include authorization from Congress to set and enforce rules for commuter rail and bus safety. Rogoff explained that most of this authority currently rests with state agencies such as Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board and with city governments, as is the case with HRT.
Rogoff cited such problems as the failure of the track alert system that contributed to June’s fatal DC Metro train collision and noted that much of the equipment used in transit systems is nearing or past its useful lifespan.
I’ve written recently on the importance of protecting passengers who use public transportation. Increased, coordinated and standardized regulations for inspecting and maintaining equipment and infrastructure could go some way toward meeting this responsibility.
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