Improve Safety or Else: U.S. Senators Tell Metro | NBC4 Washington

Improve Safety or Else: U.S. Senators Tell Metro

Safety Board to hear testimony from Metro officials today

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    WASHINGTON - JUNE 23: Investigators work at the site where two Red Line Metrorail trains collided with one another between the Fort Totten and Takoma Park stations during last evening's rush hour on June 23, 2009 in Washington, DC. At least nine people died and dozens were injured in the crash. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

    Four U.S. Senators are warning Metro of federal intervention if the transit agency doesn't make immediate safety improvements.

    In the letter to Metro board Chairman Peter Benjamin on Monday is signed by Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Richard Shelby of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana. The senators write that the transit agency has suffered "an institutional failure'' and they call for the board to make substantive reforms.

    Transit experts and officials have gathered in Washington for a federal hearing on last June's deadly Metro crash. The National Transportation Safety Board will hear testimony to determine the causes of that crash in a three-day public hearing starting Tuesday.

    Metro's outgoing general manager John Catoe is first up on the transit agency's witness list.

    Nine people were killed when two trains collided between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations on the Red Line. Dozens more were injured.

    Since that deadly crash, Metro has dealt with a public relations nightmare. Four other Metro employees and a subcontractor have been killed while working on the tracks. The transit agency also faces a $200 million budget shortfall.

    The NTSB is also expected to consider state and federal oversight issues for rail transit and passenger systems.

    A Metro spokeswoman says the agency will set up a meeting with the senators to explain how it is trying to improve safety.