During a board meeting Thursday, Metro’s board of directors is expected to pass its $2.5 billion operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2012 while it will also get an outside watchdog group’s assessment of where the transit authority stands on fixing its safety operation.
The Tri-State Oversight Committee, which monitors Metro, is expected to deliver a nearly 20-page report that details the transit agency’s efforts to improve its safety following the June 22, 2009 crash on the Red Line and a surge in worker deaths.
Metro has resolved more than 100 “corrective action items” from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Transit Administration and other outside groups. But it has roughly 200 procedural and administrative safety “action items” identified by the TOC, Metro’s internal audits, and the FTA.
Matt Bassett, the chair of the Tri-State Oversight Committee, said in an e-mail Thursday’s Metro board meeting, that Metro has done a better job on safety measures. Their efforts include:
• Adding supervisors to rail yards.
• Reviewing training.
• Holding more field visits to improve signage.
• Improving communication between Metro’s operations control center dispatchers and track maintenance personnel.
• Performing better internal safety audits.
• Giving the Tri-State Oversight group better notification when there are safety incidents.
But he cautioned that “the fact that they’re reporting and analyzing rule violation incidents is great, but the fact that they’re happening at all is clearly not so great.”
Bassett also noted that there’s an “administrative lag” in Metro documenting fixes that have occurred and reporting the information to the oversight agency.
Metro also needs to make improvements in ensuring that rail yards have consistent safety compliance, he said.
“Some yards have strong communication, smart enforcement practices and cooperation between various departments like quality assurance, supervision, safety and track maintenance,” Bassett wrote. “And some yards don’t.”
“The good ones need to document their processes more clearly; the weaker ones need to learn from the stronger ones.”
On a fiscal note, Metro faced a $66 million shortfall in its fiscal 2012 operating budget. The gap was filled when Maryland, Virginia, and the District pledged more money to fill the hole.
The agency is expected to pass a $1.5 billion operating budget and a $1 billion capital budget, which is used to pay for long-term improvements, during its board meeting Thursday.
Dr. Gridlock had details on the budgets earlier this week.
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