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Senate passes bill to create transit standards

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Transportation,Kytja Weir

The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday that would establish the first federal safety standards for transit agencies such as Metro.

Prompted by the 2009 Metro crash near Fort Totten, the legislation would allow the secretary of Transportation to set up safety standards based on recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board. Currently the safety board can make recommendations but has no teeth to be able to force systems like Metro to fix the problems.

“The Senate’s passage of this legislation is an important step in ensuring Metro is safe for the people who work on it and the people who ride on it,” said a key booster for it, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. “We have federal safety standards for planes, trains and automobiles. We need them for transit systems like Washington’s Metro.”

The language creating the federal oversight was part of a broader transportation funding bill that has been caught up in delays.

The legislation is not a done deal, as the House still has to pass a version of the larger transportation bill. But it’s the first time such legislation has gotten so far.

Similar language was first introduced in 2009 in response to the deadly Fort Totten crash that killed nine and injured dozens more. 

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