217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org
Shuster & Comstock Respond to Metrorail Closure
For Immediate Release: March 15, 2016
Contact: Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
Washington, DC – House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Transportation Committee Member Barbara Comstock (R-VA) responded today to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announcement that it was closing Metrorail on Wednesday for emergency inspections.“This afternoon, we learned of WMATA’s decision to close Metrorail for emergency inspections, and are gathering additional information,” Shuster said.  “We support any necessary actions to ensure the safety of Metro riders.  These safety issues have been a long-standing concern.  Last year the Transportation Committee passed and the President signed the FAST Act, which included provisions to strengthen transit safety mechanisms and enforcement.  Congresswoman Comstock worked to include provisions targeted at improving safety oversight of WMATA.  We will closely monitor developments and assess the need for any additional steps, including a potential hearing.”

“My constituents rely on Metrorail for safe travel every single day,” said Comstock.  “I appreciate that General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s actions, while drastic, are being taken first and foremost to protect Metrorail riders’ safety.  At the same time this unprecedented action highlights the fundamental cultural change that needs to take place at Metro.  Instead of Metro riders being constantly inconvenienced and put in danger, Metro management throughout the entire system needs to be shaken to its core and be rid of its culture of incompetence.  New accountability measures must be put in place.”

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is the multi-year highway and transit legislation that was signed into law December 4, 2015.  FAST Act provisions focused on public transportation safety include:

  • Requires the Secretary of Transportation to undertake a review and evaluation of public transportation safety standards, and incorporate the recommendations in to the National Public Transportation Safety Plan
  • Provides the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) the statutory authority and funds to act as the safety oversight body when there is no suitably certified state safety oversight board, as is the case with WMATA
  • Clarifies and expands the enforcement actions FTA can take against unsafe public transportation systems
  • Reforms the appointment of the federal directors of WMATA to be appointed by the Secretary of Transportation