June 22, 2015
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently published the final reports from its Safety Management Inspection of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), as well as the State Safety Oversight Program Audit of the TOC. TOC actively participated with FTA in all review areas, and we are in the process of digesting the findings and recommendations from both reports. TOC looks forward to working with FTA and WMATA to address the findings and recommendations identified in both reports. TOC is committed to its partnership with FTA to enhance its own safety program as we work toward TOC’s shared goal of the continued improvement of the safety and security of the Metrorail system.
The TOC has been, and remains, actively engaged in overseeing WMATA’s implementation of its safety program. The TOC often works cooperatively and collaboratively with WMATA towards the implementation of safety program requirements, and we believe this has resulted in benefits to the TOC program effectiveness given the structure and design of our program. In response to inquiries regarding the actions of the TOC in the wake of the issues identified by FTA, we are pleased to provide the following broad overview of TOC’s recent and ongoing program activities and initiatives:
Audits and inspections. TOC began the current cycle of “triennial” safety and security audits of WMATA in 2013. Starting with the current cycle, TOC began performing these required audits on an ongoing basis, with the current cycle scheduled to conclude later this year. TOC safety program audits completed as part of the current audit cycle include:
WMATA System Safety Program
Roadway Worker Protection
Shop Safety/Facility & Equipment Inspections
Stations Maintenance and Inspections
Elevator/Escalator Maintenance and Inspections
Subway Tunnel Emergency Egress and Equipment
Automatic Train Control
Radio and Communications System Maintenance and Inspections
All of the above audits have resulted in detailed reports describing findings and recommendations. These reports are published on the TOC website as they are finalized. TOC works closely with WMATA through the Corrective Action Plan (CAP) process to track and monitor WMATA’s responses to each finding and recommendation.
In addition to the above audits, which are part of the regularly-scheduled audit cycle, TOC also completed several special studies and audits in response to specific safety concerns, including fatigue management, yard safety, escalator barrier compliance, public address system checks in stations and on-board railcars, and an evaluation of the rule compliance and enforcement program.
The audits and inspections performed by the TOC are designed to serve as independent oversight of WMATA’s process implementation. That is, the TOC works to ensure that WMATA has appropriate plans, policies, and procedures in place to support the safety of the rail system, and that they are implementing the processes described therein. While TOC has a regular schedule of audits, and will conduct special audits in response to specific safety concerns, TOC audits and inspections are not intended to replace the routine maintenance, audit, and inspection programs that WMATA must implement as part of the overall operation and maintenance of the second-busiest rail transit system in the U.S.
Oversight of Accident Investigations and Hazard Management. As the State Safety Oversight Agency (SSOA), TOC is responsible for ensuring the investigation of accidents and incidents. While most SSOAs use the baseline requirements contained in current Federal rules, TOC’s investigation requirements go significantly above and beyond the minimum requirements. For example, unlike most SSOAs, TOC requires WMATA report the following accidents and incidents, which we feel warrant serious attention:
Derailments in rail yards
Red signal violations and overruns
Wrong-side door openings
Door openings while trains are in motion
Employee electrical shock exceeding 200 volts
Other WMATA employee injuries while on the job
TOC adopts WMATA’s investigation reports as its own, the TOC holds WMATA to a high standard, and all WMATA reports are subject to an iterative review and revision process. The TOC also reserves the authority to require WMATA to investigate hazards in response to specific safety concerns or deficiencies, and we have done so on multiple occasions since 2010. TOC believes that addressing hazards proactively helps prevent small occurrences that may appear innocuous individually from becoming major safety problems.
Corrective Action Plan (CAP) Tracking and Monitoring. The TOC holds monthly meetings with WMATA to discuss the status of open CAPs, which are developed by WMATA to correct deficiencies identified in TOC reviews, WMATA internal audits, accident and hazard investigations, and other sources. These monthly in-person meetings go significantly above and beyond baseline requirements under existing federal rules. The meetings allow TOC to interface directly with WMATA subject matter experts to understand the status and progress made on all CAPs, as well as obstacles and deficiencies preventing timely implementation. Due to the numerous audits and investigations that have taken place, there are many open CAPs. As with investigation reports, TOC holds WMATA to a high standard with regard to the appropriateness of the proposed actions, the analyses involved, and the proof required to demonstrate that each CAP has been fully implemented.
Regular reports to the WMATA Board of Directors. TOC gives a quarterly presentation to the WMATA Board of Directors Safety and Security Committee. TOC is one of the only SSOAs to provide such reports at this level, and is TOC’s opportunity to ensure that the Board members are aware of TOC activities and concerns.
Oversight of Major Capital Projects. TOC has been closely engaged with WMATA on major projects such as the Silver Line Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction and the procurement of the 7000-series railcars. TOC’s responsibility is to oversee the “safety and security certification” process for both Phase 1 and Phase 2 and the railcars, which WMATA must use to ensure that they have identified and addressed potential safety hazards before carrying any passengers. TOC regularly attends project working meetings, reviews key project documents, and performed detailed reviews to gauge the readiness of these projects to operate safely and securely.
Establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WMATA. No other SSOA has a MOU with a transit system. TOC developed this MOU as part of the process to strengthen its oversight relationship with WMATA, and to better define the protocols for interfacing with WMATA leadership in cases where we are unable to reach agreement on key safety program activities at the staff level.
Compliance with MAP-21. Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act in 2012. MAP-21 included new provisions for public transportation safety, including SSOAs. In late 2013, FTA determined that the TOC was not compliant with MAP-21, along with almost every other SSOA (only two SSOAs nationwide were considered compliant). To reach compliance, the TOC and its three constituent jurisdictions (the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) have committed to establish a new, independent oversight agency, the Metro Safety Commission (MSC). The MSC is a long-term project described in TOC’s Certification Work Plan, which FTA approved in May 2014. Work towards the development of the MSC has advanced in collaboration of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Each jurisdiction must adopt and pass enabling legislation to create the MSC, and that legislation must grant the MSC the increased oversight authority required by MAP-21. Such authority is needed to be able to compel the transit agency to take action in response to safety deficiencies. The jurisdictions will take up such legislation as soon as FTA releases all relevant Final Rules regarding SSOA program requirements, and other rules regarding rail transit safety that are still forthcoming. SSOAs like the TOC will have three years following the release of the Final Rules to fully comply with MAP-21. In the interim period until the MSC is established, the TOC must continue to operate under its current structure. However, we are the process of making enhancements to the program to meet MAP-21 targets, including codifying new authorities in TOC’s key program documents. These enhancements will be directly transferrable to the MSC once it is created.
TOC response to January 12, 2015 Smoke Incident at L’Enfant Plaza. TOC was notified of the January 12th incident within two hours of occurrence, and TOC members responded to the scene to join the investigation at once. TOC became a formal party to the investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and TOC members become actively engaged in the investigation activities. TOC is committed to working with the NTSB to address investigation findings and recommendations to help ensure that an incident of this kind does not happen again.
June 10, 2015
The TOC is aware of WMATA's decision to remove the 4000-Series Metrorail cars from service to investigate recent door problems while in service.
The TOC is concerned about the frequency of these occurrences and, under its authority in the TOC Program Standard and Procedures, has requested that WMATA perform a formal hazard investigation to identify root and contributing causes, findings and recommendations, and corrective actions.
The TOC is committed to working with WMATA to ensure the continued safety and security of the Metrorail system.
April 6, 2015
For the last several weeks, TOC has participated in the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Safety Management Inspection (SMI) of WMATA. Thus far, TOC has participated in FTA's reviews of Metrorail operations, the Rail Operations Control Center, rail vehicle maintenance, track, signals and communications, capital programs, elevators and escalators, and other Metrorail disciplines. TOC has been in constant communication with FTA regarding review activities and observations. This is yet another activity undertaken by TOC's comprehensive approach to system safety of the Metrorail system. TOC looks forward to its continued coordination with FTA and all of the other Federal stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure Metrorail system for the riding public.
For more information on the FTA SMI, please visit FTA's website at http://fta.dot.gov.
February 25, 2015
Over the last several weeks, TOC has continued its activities for its Safety Readiness Review of the WMATA 7000-Series Railcars. TOC continues to work with WMATA to ensure that the 7000-Series Railcars will be safe and secure for passenger revenue service.
The TOC also has continued its scheduled Three-Year Safety and Security Review schedule of selected WMATA Metrorail Elements. Within the last four weeks, TOC performed reviews of Automatic Train Control/Signals Maintenance and Radio Communications. TOC believes that these recent reviews have gone well and helps TOC in working with WMATA toward a shared goal of continuous safety improvement in the Metrorail System.
January 30, 2015
The Tri-State Oversight Committee recently posted the most recent reports from its ongoing safety and security review and audit program. These reports include the following:
These reports and others are available in the Program Documents section of the TOC website.
Some of the information in these reports is considered Security Sensitive Information (SSI) under Section 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Parts 15 and 1520 and thus prohibited from public release.
January 13, 2015
The TOC is a party to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation of the fatal smoke incident that occurred Monday near L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail Station. Due to the NTSB investigation, the TOC is prohibited from commenting on the incident or circumstances related to the situation. Please contact the NTSB Public Affairs Office for any inquiries regarding the incident. As always the TOC will continue to accept information and will respond regarding any other safety issues as we continue to work on our ongoing mission of Metrorail safety oversight.
December 19, 2014
On Friday, December 19, 2014, the TOC continued its Safety and Readiness Review of the WMATA 7000-Series railcars. This review is intended to ensure that the 7000-Series railcars are safe and secure for passenger service.
The TOC is working closely with WMATA to facilitate a review that enables WMATA to continue its efforts in readying the cars for revenue service while also ensuring that safety- and security-related items are properly addressed.
The TOC will continue to closely monitor WMATA’s safety and security certification efforts on the 7000-series railcars as WMATA completes the necessary steps for preparing the cars for safe and secure passenger service.
December 8, 2014
On Friday December 5th, representatives from TOC and WMATA met to discuss the TOC’s concerns regarding flaws in the process used to ensure that the 7000-series railcars will be safe to carry passengers. TOC had publicly expressed these concerns at the November 20th WMATA Board of Directors Safety and Security Committee Meeting.
Pursuant to discussions with WMATA, TOC has received additional clarification intended to help address TOC’s concerns. TOC believes that, working closely with WMATA, we have identified a path forward that allows WMATA to better ensure that the new railcars will be safe.
TOC will continue to closely monitor WMATA’s certification process, and will perform a readiness review to ensure that WMATA has finished all of the necessary steps to ready the cars for safe and secure passenger service.
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