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Feds Want Control of Light-rail Safety
Wednesday, December 09, 2009 3:21 PM


Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, testifying before CongressLast June's deadly train crash in the Washington metro area was a wake-up call, said the nation's top transportation official.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified before Congress yesterday, calling on lawmakers to pass the Public Transportation Safety Program of 2009, which would replace assorted state-run safety organizations that now oversee the safety of subways and light-rail systems, according to The Washington Post.

"Everyone in this region woke up the day after that crash and said, ‘Who's responsible for safety?' And there was no one," LaHood told Congress.

The proposed bill would allow existing state agencies to enforce the new regulations, but they would be required to meet federal standards and obtain federal approval.  

The proposal would also give federal officials the power to file lawsuits and seek criminal charges.

Click here to read more on the bill from the Federal Transit Administration.  

On Monday, KUHF-FM aired an interview with METRO's President & CEO Frank J. Wilson, asking him how federal oversight could affect the Houston agency.

Wilson said safety has always been a top priority at METRO. He said his concern about federal oversight would be unfunded mandates, adding that he hopes transit agencies would have sufficient time to implement expensive safety solutions before agencies are penalized.  

Click here to read a transcript of KUHF's report.


DominicMazoch said:

Each LRT is custom built.  From self contained siesel type of Island Transit, to ours, to the interurban look of DART.  How could the Feds regulate such systems?  Only thing whcih could work on many platforms is the PTS stop system being developed for the freight railroads.

# December 9, 2009 6:13 PM

Mike Harrington said:

The Feds should look at pedestrians' and bicyclists' risk of getting injured or killed by automobiles.  All the federal legislation since Nader wrote Unsafe At Any Speed has been for protecting automobile passengers with no concern for protecting those most at risk: the people on the the streets.

The rate of injuries per million passenger miles of light rail is negligible.   Motorists are literally getting away with murder while the feds have blown up a few rail incidents completely out of proportion.  The safest place to be on Houston's streets is in a 50-ton light rail car.  

# December 10, 2009 1:21 PM

DominicMazoch said:

BTW, a LRT car is about as heave as an Amtrak Superliner.  "Light" comes from the rail structure, not car weight!

# December 12, 2009 10:53 PM

don y said:

I agree with Mike H. that pedestrian safety is overlooked. The big problem is that 99.99% of  Houstonians never walk further than from their garage to the back door so they have no idea of what it's like to walk. Even when a pedestrian clearly has the right of way most cars will not yield so even one little mistake will get you killed. I was recently in Las Vegas and it's even worse than Houston if that's possible. The problem there is that most streets are wider and cars are faster so you really take your life in your own hands at every intersection.

# December 14, 2009 7:31 AM

HoustonHater said:

@don y

That's faticism....

# December 15, 2009 7:18 AM

DominicMazoch said:

don y:

Ever crossed Westheimer......@ Post Oak?

# December 17, 2009 6:34 PM

don y said:

I tried it once. After that I cross in the middle of the block at the book store like most others do.

# December 19, 2009 11:13 AM
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