Bart Jansen, USA Today, May 10, 2016
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx threatened Tuesday to suspend the D.C. subway if the system fails to make immediate changes to fix dangerous safety lapses.
Foxx’s tough talk comes after Metro employees denied federal inspectors access to a metro tunnel on Thursday following an explosion of a third-rail insulator. The explosion significantly damaged the track and sprayed fiery metal and ceramic onto the platform at the Federal Center station.
“It’s scary,” Foxx said of video from the scene. “The culture of safety is not where we want to see it.”
The Federal Transit Authority responded Saturday with a directive, issued by acting FTA Administrator Carolyn Flowers, threatening to withhold funds or shut down the system if improvements aren’t made. She ordered Metro to mitigate fire and smoke hazards while improving emergency planning. The lapses in safety placed passengers and employees “at undue risk,” she said.
Smoke and fire in the tunnels is a long-running concern for the transit authority. A fire that filled a tunnel and the L’Enfant Plaza station with smoke in January 2015 killed one woman and sent 90 others to hospitals.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the fatal smoke incident from 2015, ruled May 3 that Metro ignored safety provisions for years.
[Editor’s Note: This 2012 Washington Times story detailed cronyism and racial favoritism at the DC Transit Authority. The metro has a “diversity” problem: almost no whites.]