Virginia appoints commissioners to new Metro safety organization

Virginia appoints commissioners to new Metro safety organization

Metro’s Gallery Place-Chinatown station (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has appointed the first two members of the Metro Safety Commission — the latest step in the lengthy process to turn the newly minted transit oversight agency into a reality.

The appointees are Greg Hull, former vice president at the American Public Transportation Association, and Mark V. Rosenker, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The selections for the panel were announced Friday by McAuliffe’s office. The District and Maryland have yet to appoint their commissioners to the six-person panel.

The Metro Safety Commission was officially established by law in August, after the new safety oversight agency received approval from the D.C. Council, the Virginia and Maryland state legislatures, Congress and President Trump.

The panel is tasked with overseeing safety at Metro, performing inspections of the system, conducting investigations into dangerous practices or close-call incidents, and providing recommendations or mandates for safety improvements.

Once the organization is officially in operation, it will take over responsibilities from the Federal Transit Administration, which has spent the past two years closely monitoring safety at Metro after federal officials determined that the Tri-State Oversight Committee was under-resourced and ineffectual at catching critical safety issues.

In the meantime, the FTA has been withholding millions of dollars in federal grant money for public transportation projects throughout the District, Maryland and Virginia, part of an effort to pressure local leaders to take the steps necessary to fully launch the commission.

But even after all six commissioners are appointed — along with an executive director and a staff — there’s still more work that must be done before the Metro Safety Commission is given official approval by the FTA to take over oversight responsibilities. In a statement Friday, an FTA spokesman reiterated that the newly erected agency must go through every step of the process to become federally certified.

“As part of FTA’s review and prior to certification, the [Metro Safety Commission] must successfully complete transition activities, demonstrating its capability to perform all federally required safety oversight responsibilities,” the statement said. “Upon the successful completion of the transition, the FTA will certify the [commission] and relinquish temporary federal safety oversight of Metrorail.”

Until those steps are all completed, the region won’t be getting back its withheld funding.

[DMV Congress members to federal transportation officials: We’re fixing Metro. Now give us our money back.]

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