Bill backs fed­eral over­sight of Metro

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - BY FREDRICK KUN­KLE fredrick.kun­kle@wash­post.com

The Dis­trict’s con­gres­sional del­e­gate and two mem­bers of Congress from Mary­land and Vir­ginia are push­ing a mea­sure that would give leg­isla­tive back­ing to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s over­sight of Metro.

Reps. Donna F. Ed­wards (D-Md.) and Bar­bara Com­stock (R-Va.), along with D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Nor­ton (D), plan to sub­mit a mea­sure that would im­ple­ment a de­ci­sion by U.S. Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary An­thony Foxx to take charge of safety over­sight for Metro.

The leg­is­la­tion would au­tho­rize Foxx to con­tinue to over­see Metro’s rail op­er­a­tions un­til the Dis­trict, Mary­land and Vir­ginia de­velop a state safety-over­sight agency that would be cer­ti­fied by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

This month, Foxx stepped in at the urg­ing of the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board af­ter a se­ries of crit­i­cal safety lapses, in­clud­ing an in­ci­dent in Jan­uary that en­gulfed a train in smoke and sick­ened dozens of pas­sen­gers, one of whom died.

The mea­sure — the Pro­tect Rid­ers of Metro­rail Pub­lic Trans­porta­tion Act of 2015, or the PROMPT Act — tracks the Mov­ing Ahead for Progress (MAP-21) Act al­low­ing the fed­eral agency to as­sume safety over­sight of rail op­er­a­tions. The bill also per­mits Foxx to use ex­ist­ing funds set aside for rail safety.

“My col­leagues from the three ju­ris­dic­tions that use Metro­rail and I were able to work to­gether on a bi­par­ti­san ba­sis to in­tro­duce this bill, which re­in­forces U.S. DOT’s author­ity to per­form di­rect safety over­sight of WMATA,” Nor­ton said in a state­ment.

The mea­sure will be of­fered as an amend­ment to the House Sur­face Trans­porta­tion Reau­tho­riza­tion and Re­form Act.

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