Cummings Urges Federal Transit Administration to Investigate Following the Release of Report Identifying Deficiencies in the MTA’s Metro Subway Operations

September 4, 2018
Press Release
Also requests information from the Maryland State Safety Oversight Program

Washington, D.C. (September 4, 2018) — Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent a letter to K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), urging the FTA to examine oversight by the Maryland State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program of both the deficiencies uncovered in the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) Metro Subway operations and of the MTA’s corrective actions.  Cummings also wrote to the Maryland SSO Program seeking information regarding the Program’s awareness of the deficiencies uncovered in the Metro Subway system as well as the Program’s plans for overseeing MTA’s actions to correct the operating deficiencies.

The Maryland State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program is responsible for safety oversight of the MTA’s heavy and light rail systems in Baltimore.  The deficiencies in the MTA’s Metro Subway operations were identified in a recently released Peer Review Report by the American Public Transportations Association (APTA) that was based on an assessment conducted in late April.

“It is unclear how long the deficiencies in the Metro Subway’s operations identified in April by the peer review panel have existed,” Cummings wrote. “However, just one month after the peer review that found these deficiencies was conducted, the Maryland SSO Program was certified by the FTA as compliant with the federal State Safety Oversight Program Rule.”

Among the many troubling observations found in the APTA peer review were the following:

  • “Slow Orders are currently being implemented verbally and in some cases are not adhered to at all by train operators;”
  • There is a “lack of in-department track engineering expertise as well as inadequate track inspection training and no track recertification;”
  • There is also a “lack of in-department signal and power engineering expertise and inadequate signal and power training with no periodic recertification;” and
  • Regarding signal and power systems, “relay testing is out of compliance in some places by more than two review cycles;” in some cases, “work orders were not completed;” and “[t]here is no policy in place for the reporting and recording of signal system anomalies.” 

“The deficiencies in the MTA’s operations identified by the APTA peer review panel are deeply disturbing and require immediate corrective action,” Cummings wrote. “It is critical that FTA confirm whether the Maryland SSO Program it has certified to oversee safety on Maryland’s fixed rail transit systems can fully and adequately ensure the safe operation of these systems, including overseeing the resolution of the many operational deficiencies identified in the APTA peer review study.”

Cummings urged the FTA to determine whether the Maryland SSO Program was aware of the deficiencies identified in the Peer Review Report, whether the SSO had issued any corrective action plans to address the deficiencies, and whether the SSO had sought to enforce compliance with any corrective action plans. 

Click here to read today’s letter to Williams and Shutt.