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OIG to audit FTA's oversight of Metrorail safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched an audit of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) Metrorail system and other new safety oversight responsibilities that FTA was granted under federal legislation.

The audit's objective is to assess the FTA's actions to assume and relinquish direct safety oversight of a transit agency, according to an OIG press release.

The FTA has had an evolving role in regulating the safety of transit-rail systems. Since 1991, the agency has overseen the state safety oversight (SSO) agencies that monitor transit-rail safety. The FTA's authority over such programs was enhanced under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which allowed the agency to assume SSO responsibilities in the absence of an effective SSO agency.

In October 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx determined that the FTA would assume oversight of Metrorail, following a string of safety-related incidents occurred on the rail system, including a fatal incident in January.

The FTA will assume safety oversight until Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia establish a fully functioning and capable SSO agency, according to the OIG.

The OIG's audit of the FTA's role is self initiated.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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