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USDOT picks three new WMATA board members to tackle safety culture

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced the appointment of three new Federal representatives, each with considerable expertise in safety, to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) board of directors. 

The incoming appointees will bring to the board extensive backgrounds in transportation safety.  They include two new Principal Directors with voting authority: Carol Carmody, former Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and David Strickland, former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The incoming Alternate Director will be Robert Lauby, Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Anthony E. Costa, a Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), will remain an Alternate Director. The appointments will be effective June 1, 2016.  More information on these new board members is below.

“Building a safety culture is not easy and requires relentless focus at every level.  These three new Federal members will build on our promise to bring a laser-like focus on making the transit system of our nation’s capital as safe as possible.” said Secretary Foxx. “All three of the outgoing board members Mort Downey, Harriet Tregoning, and Anthony Giancola have provided excellent service on the WMATA board, and we thank them for bringing such great commitment to guiding WMATA through serious and complicated issues over the last few years.” 

Leaving the WMATA board in May, 2016 after distinguished service as Federal representatives are Mortimer L. Downey, a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation, who has served for six years, becoming the Chairman in January 2015, Harriet Tregoning, an expert in urban planning and smart growth, who has served since 2014, and Anthony R. Giancola, who served in the Civil Engineer Corps of the U.S. Navy for 20 years.

The Metro Board of Directors is composed of eight voting and eight alternate directors. Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and the federal government appoint two voting and two alternate directors each.

“The WMATA board plays a crucial role in setting the direction for the agency as it strives to address infrastructure challenges and establish a robust safety culture,”  said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “The temporary FTA WMATA Safety Oversight Office is on the job, but we are eager to see the local jurisdictions take responsibility and set up a permanent safety oversight agency.”

Secretary Foxx continues to call on the Governors, Mayor and legislative leaders to establish the new State Safety Oversight Agency to assume its responsibility for Metrorail. 

“I met with each of the jurisdictions a year ago and urged them to stand up a new safety oversight office. They have not done so. Given the continued urgency, we will be forced to use every available lever at our discretion to force action as soon as possible to improve safety for the traveling public,” Foxx said. “No more excuses.”

Incoming Board Members

Carol J. Carmody served for five years as a member of the NTSB and was appointed Vice Chairman by President Clinton.  She served twice as acting chairman of the NTSB, her role leading the initial investigation into the September 11, 2001 attacks; she oversaw NTSB efforts to assist the FBI and other agencies with recovery and identification of aircraft parts and victims. Following her government service,  Ms. Carmody joined the National Academy of Public Administration as Director of Transportation Initiatives before retiring. 

David Strickland served as the fourteenth NHTSA Administrator.  At NHTSA he oversaw a broad range of vehicle safety and policymaking programs, including setting vehicle safety standards, investigating possible safety defects, and tracking safety-related recalls.  In addition, Mr. Strickland brought national attention to child passenger safety issues and was a leader in the campaigns to fight impaired and distracted driving.

Robert Lauby is currently FRA Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer.  He has 35 years of railroad and rail transit experience involving safety, security, and accident investigation..  In this role, he provides regulatory oversight for freight, intercity and commuter railroad safety in the United States and oversees the development and enforcement of safety regulations and programs related to the railroad industry. 

The FAST Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December 2015, transferred the authority to appoint Federal representatives to the WMATA board from the head of the GSA to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. 
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