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Feds want to run the Subways

November 16, 2009

This is really just too good to pass up.  FoxNews  quotes a Washington Post article yesterday:

In the wake of last summer’s deadly Metro crash in Washington, D.C., the Obama administration reportedly plans to propose that subway and light-rail systems across the country fall under federal oversight.

What’s this all about?  Two Metro trains crashed on June 22nd, killing nine people.  Here’s an AP story on the crash.  The current Washington Post story quotes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as saying:

After the train crash, we were all sitting around here scratching our heads, saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do something about this’,” LaHood said. “And we discovered that there’s not much we could do, because the law wouldn’t allow us to do it.

What to do?  Pity the poor Transportation Secretary, hamstrung by the law.   Think, think, think.  I know!  Let’s have federal oversight of all mass transit systems.  That’s the ticket!

The Federal Transit Administration would assume direct oversight for states that opt out of safety monitoring. The agency also would take over for state organizations that the administration determined to be inadequate.

This would, of course, be accompanied by the usual unfunded mandates, federal regulations and threats of said take-overs–at the sole discretion of the feds, no doubt.  I’m sure Gov Ritter will be chomping at the bit to have the Obama administration take over the Denver light rail system–just as soon as they tell him about the plan.

Those pesky states can’t do anything right.  The Big Boys from Washington always know better.  Look how they manage Amtrak, after all.


Amtrak Crash Mar 15, 1999

This well-known crash killed 11 and injured 155 in Illinois.  But, hey, they’ve gotten better: this year, a crash near Detroit on Jul 9 killed only 5 people and another in LaSalle County, Illinois on Jul 14 killed only three.  Yes, these were both after the June 22nd Metro crash when one would have expected heightened awareness, but it takes time to get the word out.  You know, it’s a big government organization.

The federal oversight proposal took almost five months to come out–pretty slow for this activist, big government, socialist administration.  I guess the moral of the story is: Never waste a crisis, no matter how slow or inappropriate the response.

  1. David Gunn permalink
    November 23, 2009 10:00 am

    All of the crashes you pint to involved railroad crossing trespassers. When one looks at Amtrak’s safety record in terms of things that it can control, it is very good. It’s most famous wrecks – in MD, LA, and AZ, are all the result of external causes. LaHood’s point is that the safety culture at the local metro level needs to be better, and there is an ample, documented record of an effective safety culture within the FAA and the airlines and the FRA and Amtrak.

  2. November 23, 2009 11:47 am

    Fair enough. But the question remains: is that accident sufficient justification for the Federal government to expand it’s control to include all state & local mass transit systems?

    I agree that there is a case to be made for cooperation, knowledge transfer, and even in the case of the DC Metro–given the district’s status and the interstate nature of it’s system–more Federal involvement.

    But the bill LaHood proposes is a power grab by an activist administration looking for any excuse to increase it’s power.

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