Not a Good Sign, Deadline Missed for Metro Safety Panel

Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., will miss a February deadline for setting up an independent Metro safety oversight group. A realistic time frame for the panel’s launch is another six months, according to Virginia’s Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

As a result, the Federal Transit Administration has withheld $15.8 million from the two states and the district, reports the Washington Post. The commission launch has been held up by the search for an executive director and six commissioners. Virginia and Maryland have announced their commissioner picks, but D.C. Council has not.

“It’s taken a lot longer than we anticipated with our partners getting together their personnel, but it is what it is,” Layne said. “It’s similar to [Metro]. It’s dealing with different regional issues and the politics of doing that.”

Bacon’s bottom line: If Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. can’t work effectively on an issue as innocuous as Metro rail safety — a goal everyone shares — how will they ever come to agreement over how to fund and operate the Metro itself? There is no consensus on how much to charge passengers. There is no consensus on how to revamp the Metro’s union contract. While there is agreement that the ailing commuter rail system needs billions of dollars to pay for maintenance backlogs, there is no consensus on who should pay. What a mess.