July 20, 2009
Nine major public transit positions available in this week's classified ads!
Transportation Officials Testify on Rail Transit Safety
On July 13, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an urgent recommendation to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which in turn sent a “Dear Colleague” letter advising all rail transit operators who use train control systems that are able to monitor movements to evaluate those systems to ensure their safety redundancy capability is both adequate and working. This recommendation coincided with another that NTSB issued to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) concerning the June 22 Metrorail accident.
On July 14, a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), held a hearing to discuss safety oversight of WMATA in the incident’s aftermath; NTSB is still investigating its cause.
At the hearing, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff told the subcommittee that U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood has established a multi-modal departmental committee, chaired by Deputy Secretary John Porcari, to consider ways to address “what we consider a gap in safety oversight.” He added: “The current State Safety Oversight (SSO) structure, with a few exceptions, lacks sufficient authority to provide for a uniform approach to transit system safety.”
APTA President William Millar testified on the rail transit industry’s efforts to ensure safe operations and the use of train control systems Millar described APTA’s Standards Development Program, which includes standards for rail transit, commuter rail, bus operations, procurement, intelligent communications interface, and security, adding that U.S. DOT has designated APTA as a Standards Development Organization (SDO).
With the help of other SDOs, he said, APTA has created and implemented 170 consensus-based standards specific to designing safe and efficient transit systems—and he specifically cited the Heavy Rail Crashworthiness Standard, developed over five years by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in collaboration with APTA.
Others testifying included former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-VA), who made clear his support for increased federal funding for WMATA; WMATA representatives John B. Catoe Jr., general manager, and Jim Graham, board chair; Mark V. Rosenker, acting chair of NTSB; and Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689.