By Sara Sciammacco
The head of the Fedearl Transit Administration says the safety of Metrorail riders will continue to be in jeopardy if Congress does not empower federal officials to issue and enforce national safety standards.
A new audit found that the Metro continues to suffer from inadequate staffing, expertise and communication. At a House committee hearing, Administrator Peter Rogoff says federal officials do not have the authority to compel Metro to fix its problems, or make new changes.
"Just a few weeks ago, Secretary LaHood, for example, used his authority to prohibit texting while driving nationwide for commercial truck and bus drivers," he says. "But even a simple common sense safety measure like that cannot automatically apply to employees on systems like Metro until Congress changes the law."
Virginia Democrat Gerry Connelly says the system, which faces a $189 million budget shortfall, will need more money.
A Republican at the hearing called for less Washington bureaucracy and argued rail transit systems perform better when in local and state control.