FTA Ready to Transfer WMATA Metrorail Safety Oversight to Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, Millions in Withheld Transit Funds Now Available

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on March 18 certified the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission’s (WMSC) State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program. With this certification, responsibility for direct safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system will transfer from the FTA to the WMSC at the close of Metrorail’s regular service hours on March 18.

In addition, approximately $48.5 million in FTA grant funding, withheld due to the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia missing a prior SSO program certification deadline, is now available to transit agencies across the three jurisdictions to invest in public transportation.

“FTA is certifying the WMSC to perform the direct safety oversight of WMATA Metrorail,” FTA Executive Director Matthew J. Welbes said. “FTA appreciates the diligent cooperation of the WMSC during the transition process, and especially the actions and resources of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, dedicated to reach this important safety milestone.”

The FTA-certified WMSC SSO program strengthens state safety oversight of Metrorail in several ways. It ensures that the program adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has the authority to investigate and enforce safety plans of WMATA Metrorail, is financially and legally independent from WMATA and has a well-trained staff.

FTA assumed temporary and direct safety oversight in October 2015 from the Tri‑State Oversight Committee, the previous SSO agency. Since then, FTA verified Metrorail has fully implemented 188 systemic safety improvements, and made progress on dozens of others, advancing a safer Metrorail system.

While FTA will no longer have direct day-to-day safety oversight responsibility for Metrorail, it maintains its general safety authority for all SSO agencies and rail transit agencies across the country.

This release originally appeared on the FTA website. You can view it here.