Administrator Peter Rogoff Delivers Remarks at WMATA Memorial Service - Washington, DC


06-22-10

My name is Peter Rogoff, and I am President Obama’s Federal Transit Administrator. 

To the families, I want to express the condolences, not just of me and my family, but that of President Obama, Secretary Ray LaHood and the entire Department of Transportation family.
 
To the first responders we cannot say enough about the heroic response a year ago today but importantly it mirrors the heroic response that we get from them every day to keep us safe.

Each day, knowing that tens of millions of Americans are boarding our nation’s buses and trains to go to work, to go to church, to go to school, I awake with the hope that it will be a safe day for our riders—a day free of injury, a day free of fear.

Tragically, for Washington’s Red Line commuters, one year ago it was anything but.

To the families, I want to say, please know that we know there are days when you wake up that you can barely catch your breath knowing that your mother, your lover, your baby is not going to wake up with you.

Please know that we know. I want to assure you in the face of this tragedy that we are taking action.  The President, the Secretary, the entire Department of Transportation is taking action. 

I also want to say to the young Mr. McMillan , if it were not for your mother’s heroic acts one tent would not be enough for this ceremony.  We would need three tents, four tents, five tents to take in all of the victims’ families, all of the people that want to grieve with them.

You can’t say enough and we can’t say enough about the heroic act of your mother and all of the family that supported her up until that moment.

The Administration is working with Congress, including members sitting right here on the dais to implement a bill calling for national rail transit safety standards—safety standards to prevent the kind of tragedy that we experienced a year ago today from ever happening again.

When President Obama transmitted this bill to Congress back in December, it was the first time a president, any president of any party, ever formally transmitted a bill to Congress solely about public transportation. 

And appropriately, this first-ever initiative was about establishing national safety standards, which currently, and astonishingly, do not exist for public transit.
We all want to have a safe and worry-free commute when we travel to work, to school, to church, to the grocery store, to the doctor, to wherever we want to go.
 
And, importantly, we want to make sure that the workers on the front lines—our conductors, our right-of-way workers, and others—are safe as they deliver us to where we want to go and as they deliver us back home.  
   
We all share these common goals. And if we are to truly honor those who were lost or injured—if we are truly to honor those who never came home—we must work together to bring about a safer system and a safer world. 

I assure you that, at the Federal Transit Administration, we will work as hard as we can to make sure that we do not have to replicate this beautiful memorial plaque here in the Washington metro area or anywhere in the country.

We can always do better.  The President is demanding that we do better, and we must do better and we will do it together.

Thank you and God bless you.