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Transportation Secretary Foxx says he has ‘greater confidence’ in future of Metro safety commission

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx says he’s optimistic that regional officials will make active moves in coming months toward establishing a Metro rail safety oversight office.

“I have greater confidence that they’re getting the message than I’ve had in a while,” Foxx told reporters at Department of Transportation headquarters Wednesday afternoon.

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Foxx’s tepidly positive words about the system’s federally-mandated oversight body was a marked departure from comments he’s made earlier this year, in which he criticized regional officials for not moving fast enough on legislation to create an independent office regulating Metro’s safety efforts, and warned that he didn’t want the Federal Transit Administration to “babysit” the transit agency in the long-term.

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Foxx also said that he had been briefed on Monday night’s emergency closure of Gallery Place station but declined to comment specifically on the issue until he had learned more about what happened.

“Our team is going to continue to drill down into the facts,” he said.

And though Foxx said that he’d seen first-hand how SafeTrack shutdowns and closures have mucked up commutes across all modes, he was pleased with Metro’s willingness to tackle maintenance problems head-on.

“Even though it’s painful going through this process of seeing delays happen and people frustrated because they can’t get places as quickly as they used to,” Foxx said, “we’re paying the price for the decades when this work should have been done, but it’s at least starting to get done.”