A new, independent oversight group that will enforce safety rules at WMATA appears – on paper – to be an improvement over the agency it will ultimately replace. But the nascent Metro Safety Commission may come with potential weaknesses or pitfalls, according to safety experts and former government officials who have closely followed the transit system’s record of safety incidents.
President Donald Trump has signed legislation wrapping up the years-long process to replace the toothless Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC) with a more effective safety organization. Now, local officials are aiming to complete their work by the end of the year, including appointing six commissioners – two from each of D.C., Maryland and Virginia – with supporting staff.
But attorney Larry Mann, who represented relatives of victims in the 2009 Fort Totten crash and co-authored the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, said the new commission could be weakened from the start because the legislation does not require its members to have railroad safety backgrounds.