Norton, Edwards and Comstock Get PROMPT Act to Ensure WMATA Safety Included in House Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 22, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, said today she believes that the residents of the District of Columbia and the region will be relieved that the Protect Riders of Metrorail Public Transportation (PROMPT) Act of 2015 is assured of passage. The bipartisan bill implements direct federal safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) Metrorail, which Norton worked to achieve with Congresswomen Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA), both of whom also serve on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, was included in the Manager’s Amendment to the House Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act, which is being marked up by the full committee today. The bill’s inclusion in the six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, which is expected to pass, guarantees new, tougher safety oversight for Metro.

“Because the National Transportation Safety Board has flagged Metrorail safety oversight as an issue requiring immediate attention, we have worked to see that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assume immediate control of WMATA safety oversight responsibilities using its administrative authority,” Norton said. “I am deeply grateful to Congresswomen Edwards and Comstock not only for working so hard on our bill, but also for agreeing to the immediate safety oversight responsibility by FTA. Our last surface transportation bill gave states safety oversight responsibility for the first time following the tragic 2009 Metro accident that took the lives of nine D.C.-area residents. However, the bill also allows the federal government to step in. Because neither the states nor the federal government has had safety oversight of Metrorail before, only two states have set up their own safety oversight apparatuses. WMATA presents unique challenges because it is the only Metrorail that covers three jurisdictions. Our bill, by reinforcing the needed administrative action, sends a clear message to WMATA to increase its own attention to safety, and to riders that their safety has been our priority at the national level.”

The bill implements U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx’s actions earlier this month to assume federal safety oversight of activities for WMATA Metrorail by authorizing the DOT Secretary to administer state safety oversight activities for Metrorail until the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland develop a state safety oversight agency certified by the Secretary.

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