Transit Safety Bill Clears U.S. Senate Panel

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(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation, Washington, DC) Transit systems across the country would have to abide by a common set of safety standards under a bill that cleared a Senate panel this week.

The bill forces public transit systems receiving federal money to adopt new minimum safety standards created at the Department of Transportation. The agency could conduct ad-hoc safety reviews, and it also gets new powers to conduct safety investigations and issue subpoenas after transit accidents.

The bill was approved by the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee earlier this week. It was largely motivated by the last year’s Metro crash in Washington, DC that killed 9 people.

It’s one of several transit safety bills circulating in Congress now. Another beefs up funding and clout at the National Transportation Safety Board.

Meanwhile, the Homeland Security Department is trying to give rail safety a boost. DHS Sec.Janet Napolitano was in New York’s Penn Thursday morning launching a new safety campaign for Amtrak.The campaign is based on the “See Something, Say Something” message familiar to New York City subway riders.

Newly-minted Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole was sworn in at the same event, according to DHS.

Napolitano was scheduled to make “whistle-stop” visits to Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC on Thursday.