WASHINGTON — “No more excuses,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Thursday about Metro’s continued safety problems.
In a statement, he announced three new federal Metro Board members with significant experience in investigations and safety.
“I met with each of the jurisdictions a year ago and urged them to stand up a new safety oversight office. They have not done so. Given the continued urgency, we will be forced to use every available lever at our discretion to force action as soon as possible to improve safety for the traveling public,” Foxx said in the statement.
The new members will join the board June 1 to help set policies aimed at helping General Manager Paul Wiedefeld turn around the troubled transit system.
Carol Carmody, former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and David Strickland, former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be the active directors, while Robert Lauby, chief safety officer of the Federal Railroad Administration, will be a new alternate director.
Former Board Chair Mort Downey, a transportation expert, Harriet Tregoning, a planner, and Anthony Giancola, an engineer, are being replaced. They, along with remaining federal member Anthony Costa, had been the four federal representatives on the 16-member board. Costa is an adviser to the General Services Administration.
Foxx says they helped guide Metro through “serious and complicated issues over the last few years,” but the new members will help provide “a laserlike focus on making the transit system of our nation’s capital as safe as possible.”
Maryland, Virginia and D.C. have four members each on the board as well.
The board sets policies for Metro that the staff and general manager are supposed to follow.
That includes the budgets for the system’s operations and capital spending for projects to improve safety or other issues.
The governance setup of the Metro system has been questioned nearly from the beginning since no single jurisdiction or elected leader has full responsibility. The federal members joined the board in 2010 as the federal government began regularly contributing capital funds for safety improvements.
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., introduced a bill this week, also backed by Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., that would require Metro Board appointees from the federal government, and eventually from the local governments, to be experts in transit, management or finance.
Today, the jurisdictions can appoint anyone they please.
Federal policy recently changed to give the Department of Transportation the authority to appoint the federal Metro Board members rather than the GSA. The changes to the Metro Compact to allow that take effect this summer.