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FTA approves WMATA's safety improvement plan

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday approved the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) corrective action plan aimed at addressing previously identified safety management flaws.

The plan details the ways in which the D.C.-area agency will amend these flaws, which range from inadequate staffing and procedures at its Rail Operations Control Center to system-wide maintenance issues.

WMATA developed the plan in response to the FTA's safety directive in June that detailed 91 required actions to address safety concerns identified in an earlier inspection.

Of those actions, 78 actions are to be completed by WMATA's Metrorail system and the remainder by its Metrobus system.

Following that directive, WMATA had 90 days to submit to the FTA a corrective action plan, according to the FTA's letter of acceptance.

"It is critical that WMATA effectively implement its corrective action plan," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan in a statement. "And on a broader scale, to truly manage its safety risk on an ongoing basis, WMATA must demonstrate strong and consistent leadership, combined with a strong safety culture throughout its organization."

Under the approved plan, most of the 91 required actions will be completed during the 2015-17 time period, with a few actions extending into 2019, FTA officials said.

The FTA will monitor WMATA's implementation progress and will consult with the Tri-State Oversight Committee — which serves as WMATA's state safety oversight agency — before closing required actions to Metrorail.

The federal agency issued the safety directive after conducting a safety management inspection using the new safety oversight authorities established under the federal surface transportation legislation known as MAP-21, FTA officials said.

As a result of that inspection, the FTA identified a total of 54 safety findings, with 44 pertaining to WMATA's Metrorail and the remainder dealing with the Metrobus system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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