Federal report finds Metro safety program ‘inadequate’

In May, Metro services were stalled after a third rail insulator "blew" between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom station. On Wednesday, the FTA released a report finding that WMATA's safety program is "inadequate." Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor
In May, Metro services were stalled after a third rail insulator “blew” between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom station. On Wednesday, the FTA released a report finding that WMATA’s safety program is “inadequate.” Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Updated: June 17, 2015 at 11:21 a.m.

A federal investigation found serious concerns in how the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority conducts safety programs.

The Federal Transit Administration released a 103-page report Wednesday calling for improvements to how employees inspect and repair Metro trains. The report comes months after a Metro car filled with smoke leaving the L’Enfant Plaza station, leaving one woman dead and more than 30 others hospitalized.

The report found that there were “organizational deficiencies and operational concerns” that limited WMATA in resolving safety issues. Metro received $50 million less in federal funding this year to make safety upgrades.

Sections of the report analyzed problems like the limited availability of training, lack of information management technology and inconsistent operational testing.

“In key areas, WMATA’s organization is not effectively balancing safety-critical operations and maintenance activities with the demand for passenger service,” the report found.

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a press release that while WMATA has made safety improvements since a deadly accident in 2009 at the Fort Totten station, the safety program itself has been “inadequate.”

“WMATA management, its board of directors and its state safety oversight agency must work together to address FTA’s required actions, because the safety of passengers and personnel must be the top priority,” he said in the release.

The FTA will observe WMATA as officials improve their safety program, according to the report.

On Tuesday, four Democratic senators, including alumnus Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., held a press conference to discuss safety measures on the Metro.

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