WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

LaHood Calls For Increased Federal Oversight On Transportation

Play associated audio
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says federal oversight could increase safety on Metro and transit systems like it.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says federal oversight could increase safety on Metro and transit systems like it.

The Federal Aviation Administration is in charge of laying down safety regulations for airlines. The federal government also controls highways in the U.S. The same is not the case for the nation's transit systems. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is trying to change that.

"The terrible crash that occurred here in Washington where people were actually killed I think was a wakeup call for everybody in transit and the public," said LaHood.

The Metro crash that left nine people dead in 2009 reminded investigators of what they say is an outdated provision in U.S. law. A law remains on the books from the '60s that restricts the U.S. Transportation Department from having authority over the safety standards at local transit authorities.

LaHood is pressuring Congress to repeal that, as lawmakers negotiate changes to a sweeping transportation bill, but he's getting resistance from House Republicans who want to keep local officials in charge of transit safety.

"Particularly in communities all over America that now have stepped up transit and where people get on buses and light rail and the Metro system here in Washington every day, never really thinking about safety, we believe there ought to be some agency," says LaHood. "We think it ought to be the Department of Transportation and so did the Senate."

House Republicans are skeptical of granting more power to a federal agency after their party has consistently fought to unwind federal regulations this year. Next week, House and Senate negotiators are scheduled to meet publicly for the first time to hammer out their differences on the transportation bill.


Pack These Pages: Three Must-Reads For Summer

Harriet Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio, recommends a graphic novel about trash, a George Eliot classic and a children's book about a bear pianist.

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

The stripped-down look of exposed brick, poured cement floors, and Edison light bulbs is popular in restaurants across America. One reporter dares to ask, "Seriously, why?"

Obama: Globalization Is 'Here' And 'Done'

Warning against withdrawing from trade deals, the president acknowledged a legitimate gripe with globalization, but says focusing only on local markets is the wrong medicine.

Facebook Shakes Up News Feed, But We Still Don't Know Exactly How It Works

It will now prioritize posts from friends and family — potentially bad news for media companies relying on Facebook for traffic. The company has been under pressure to defend its political neutrality.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.