August 2, 2010
Employment opportunities in this week's classifieds include two CEO positions and several high-level technical posts!
NTSB Issues Recommendations on WMATA 2009 Rail Accident; Senators Propose DOT Legislation
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on July 27 cited a failure in track circuit modules for the June 22, 2009, incident in which one Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail train struck another on the Red Line. This failure caused the automatic train control system to lose detection of one train, allowing a second train to strike it from the rear.
The incident resulted in nine fatalities and numerous injuries.
As a result of this investigation, the board made recommendations to DOT, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), WMATA, Alstom Signaling, and public transit agencies in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
Topics included safety oversight, equipment inspection and maintenance guidelines and procedures, and targeted equipment removal and replacement. NTSB recommended that WMATA focus on its safety culture and on more effective safety oversight.
WMATA interim General Manager Richard Sarles pledged to carefully consider NTSB’s recommendations.
NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said, “Our hope is that the lessons learned from this accident will be not only a catalyst for change at WMATA, but also the cornerstone of a greater effort to establish a federal role in oversight and safety standards for rail transit systems across the nation.”
At the same time, Hersman noted that Washington’s rail system is far safer than the area’s roads. In the 34 years Metro has been running, 34 persons lost their lives, the same number killed every two weeks in automobile accidents on the area’s roads. More than 200 million passenger trips are taken per year on Metro.
A synopsis of the NTSB report is available online. The full report will be posted in a few weeks.
Last week, Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a bipartisan bill that would authorize the FTA to establish federal safety standards for transit systems. The legislation would give Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood new enforcement authority over public transit safety, require that systems establish safety plans, and improve state safety oversight agencies.
LaHood, in a statement, said: “We will continue to work closely with Congress to move transit safety legislation as quickly as possible.”
APTA has worked with the FTA and Senate committee staff on the legislation and it includes most of the principle recommendations that APTA has put forward. APTA will convene a panel of experts to review the NTSB’s recommendations once the final report is issued.