Link: Congress considering federal oversight for subwaysBy
When it comes to the nation’s rail networks, many transit advocates insist — and generally rightly so — that federal oversight is holding us back. The FRA imposes crash-test regulations that lead to train cars that are unnecessarily heavy and operations unnecessarily slowed down. Thus, train travel cannot achieve speeds and efficiencies it otherwise should.
It is, then, somewhat alarming that we now learn Congress is considering federal oversight for subway systems. Basically because subways are under local rule and Congress grew concerned over a spate of crashes in its own backyard involving the WMATA, the country’s federal legislative body is now toying with the idea of bringing every subway system’s safety regulations under federal control. “We have federal safety standards for planes, trains and automobiles. It’s shocking we don’t have them for the 7 million Americans who rely on metro systems every day,” Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) said to The Washington Post.
As we sit here in New York, though, we shouldn’t embrace this idea. Already our subway cars are generally heavier than they need to be. We also don’t have the same troubled history with safety regulations as the WMATA does. If Congress is truly concerned with that bi-state (and one district) subway authority, it should exercise its oversight powers there. Otherwise, federal oversight of New York City subways will likely lead to onerous regulations and unfunded mandates that will slow down service and rob us of our efficiencies. It’s just not necessary.