On the problem with unfunded federal safety mandates

Over the years, I’ve mentioned the ways in which the federal government overreacts when it comes to rail safety. High-profile train accidents are so few and far between that the feds seem to deem them great failures that require immediate legislative responses. If only our representatives were so attuned to the problems of pedestrian safety.

Anyway, a few years ago, a train accident in California that caused the deaths of 25 passengers set off a flurry of action. Investigators determined that the train operator was texting while driving and failed to stop at a red light. The solution: Require all rail roads to implement Positive Train Control, a costly technology that doesn’t really even exist in a form usable by the most heavily trafficked commuter lines. Amtrak has spent an exorbitant amount of money on it and likely will not meet the federally-mandated 2015 deadline. The MTA is struggling with the unfunded mandate as well, The Post reported.

Jennifer Fermino had more:

A federally mandated safety program that will cost at least $750 million has forced the MTA to put off upgrades that would benefit millions of riders on the LIRR and Metro-North, The Post has learned. The improvements would have eased crowded train cars, reduced delays and increased parking spots, sources said. But instead, the MTA is being forced to spend money on a system called Positive Train Control, which must be installed by 2015.