Secretary Ray Lahood Remarks:Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety


09-09-10

Thank you, Peter.

Welcome, everyone, to this inaugural meeting of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety.

And on behalf of President Obama, thank you for lending your energy, experience, and expertise to this important group.

We’re all proud that transit remains among the safest modes of transportation.

Yet it’s experiencing a disturbing rise in the frequency of accidents like last June’s Washington DC Metro crash.

The simple fact is that the current system with 28 separate state safety organizations – is ill-suited to manage its increasing ridership and aging trains, tracks, and ties.

So, we’re working for legislative reform to ensure that transit’s 10 billion passengers a year are as safe as is humanly possible.

Ten months ago, the administration sent proposed legislation to the Hill.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t moved as far as we would have liked.

But we’re grateful for Senators Dodd, Shelby, Menendez, and others, who unanimously passed their own version of the administration’s bill out of the banking committee.

And, today, I am sending Senators Reid and McConnell a letter that urges them to bring this legislation – S. 3638 – to the floor.

We look forward to resuming our work with them soon and eventually to bringing a bill to the House.

But in the interim, we have a job to do here – and a big one at that.

Look around the room.

Some of you are safety experts.

Others are labor leaders.

Still others are executives and managers.

You hail from all across America.

Together, your charge is to draft the blueprint for the transit safety standards we will enact once Congress grants the authority.

It’s a crucially important role.

So, please share your ideas.

Tell us how we can foster a culture of safety that reaches from senior managers all the way to workers on the tracks.

I’ve said it over and over:

Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation.

Thank you again for your service in support of that mission.

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