WASHINGTON — Metro has failed to deal with four important safety fixes the Federal Transit Administration says the agency was expected to have a plan to fix last month. Also, Metro’s plan to deal with a fifth serious FTA finding has been rejected.
The FTA said Friday afternoon that it has rejected Metro’s plan submitted last fall to address a cut in the amount of resources dedicated to walking track inspections.
Also, the FTA says Metro has not submitted plans that were due in January to improve its ability to detect the location of smoke in tunnels, to enhance investigations of rail incidents to find systemic deficiencies, and to address separate training troubles for both bus and rail employees.
Metro says in a statement to WTOP that it was working with FTA to “refine completion dates for outstanding items.”
“This week, FTA changed their website to use ‘original’ estimated completion dates, which in some cases are earlier than what both agencies had previously agreed. Metro remains committed to completing each of the corrective actions, and has already submitted 308 items for completion,” said Metro spokesman Richard Jordan in an email.
On Jan. 28, acting Chief Safety Officer Lou Brown told the Metro Board of Directors’ Safety and Security Committee that “all deliverables that have been submitted to the FTA in connection with the FTA [safety management inspection] are either on schedule or ahead of schedule.”
The inspection was the initial effort to identify issues that Metro needed to address — months before the FTA took over primary safety oversight because of the continued failure of the region to set up an oversight commission that is truly independent and has enforcement power.
Brown says that with 91 overarching issues identified, Metro is responsible for 732 actionable items. At the committee meeting, he said Metro had submitted 283 of those for FTA approval as of Jan. 22 and that everything was on time or ahead of schedule with the FTA.
The announcement comes the same week that a Metro train ran a red signal, coming to a stop only 150 feet from a train that was unloading passengers at the Smithsonian station.
Service and equipment failures have plagued Metro over the past year, including the L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident in January 2015 that led to one woman’s death. Also, there was a derailment in August that caused major delays, and a transformer fire in September at Stadium-Armory.