Mikulski Metro Bill Passes Committee
U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski announced on Oct. 7 that new legislation to help improve safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) has been passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
The legislation, introduced on Sept. 29, would alter the way members of the Metro Board of Directors are appointed.
“I will not rest until Metro produces safety results,” said Senator Mikulski, who fought to get the first-ever federal rail transit safety standards passed into law. “Enough is enough. I have demanded new leadership and a new culture of safety at Metro. This legislation gives the U.S. Transportation Secretary the authority to name federal representatives to the Metro Board. We need strong leadership on the Board to attract strong leadership at Metro.”
The bill was also cosponsored by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
“It’s time we shake things up at Metro and make sure the right people are in charge of making the right decisions that impact safety and reliability,” said Senator Cardin. “The federal government invests a great deal of money and time into Metro for good reason: our people rely on it, along with passengers, tourists, workers, students and others from across the National Capital Region. I am a strong supporter of Metro, which is why I support making real changes that will make a real difference in how WMATA functions daily and for the long-term.”
“It’s clear that Metro needs a shake-up that starts at the top, and strong federal oversight is key to that effort,” said Senator Warner. “Allowing the federal government’s top transit experts to select the federal nominees to the Metro board may appear to be a relatively minor step, but it clearly is a commonsense reform.”
According to a news release, the legislation would change the way individuals are selected to fill federal appointments to the Metro Board of Directors. Currently, the federal government’s two principal directors and two alternate directors on the Board are selected by the General Services Administration (GSA), an agency with no transportation mandate. This legislation would transfer this authority from GSA to DOT in order to ensure that experts in transportation policy will be responsible for choosing who will represent the federal government on the Metro Board.