One thing the agency has done is try to be transparent about its efforts. As part of that, the FTA recently released a new tool that enables the public to understand what its inspectors are looking at and what they’re finding in their inspections of the 117-mile system. The table above will be updated monthly. The agency also maintains a table where the public can track “Corrective Action Plans” problems Metro must take to make its bus and rail systems safer.
FTA has conducted 192 inspections, including a multi-week “safety blitz” in which inspectors uncovered a variety of problems ranging from blocked emergency walkways to faulty track ties that could have caused trains to derail.
We know some translation might be required so we’ll do our best to help you understand what you’re looking at.
The “Discipline” column tells you what area inspectors are looking at. As you can see, much of their work has focused on the track system, followed by rail transportation (the train operators and their performance). Other categories that might need explaining: “Access” — refers to federal inspectors’ ability to gain access to Metro property. The 15 incidents listed in the chart refer to the number of times FTA officials were denied access to Metro work sites in order to conduct inspections. Included among those was the May 5 incident in which an insulator exploded at Federal Center SW, spewing debris onto the platform. The incident was caught in a widely-circulated video. FTA officials said they have raised concerns about Metro’s reluctance to allow them on site and such incidents have been significantly reduced.
The “Other” category includes observations from inspectors that don’t neatly fit into other categories, such as whether Metro conducted “safety standowns” following safety lapses identified by Metro inspectors.
The “Defect” column refers to instances where FTA inspectors found that Metro officials were not following their own standards, rules or procedures.
An “Infraction” is tied specifically to “Access” instances in which Metro denied FTA inspectors access to an area that they wanted to inspect.
Finally, “Remedial Actions” are instances where federal inspectors tell Metro officials to make specific fixes or repairs. It is FTA’s job to verify that Metro has made the requested fixes or repairs. FTA officials say they expect that many of the track-related remedial actions will be dealt with as part of the transit agency’s massive Safe Track maintenance program.