What should the public know when an accident calls into question the safety of a rail system that moves 700,000 of the region’s residents every day? Does reliable information really need to take years?
The Open Government Coalition has been monitoring transparency of related agencies — transit (WMATA, operated by an independent organization governed by all three jurisdictions involved, and without any statutory information release policies in place), D.C. government (where FOIA is ill-suited to breaking news), and federal investigators (tight-lipped engineers, typically staying mum for months in all safety investigations, as legal liability can rest on findings) — in the wake of the tunnel fire and related train evacuation at the L’Enfant Plaza rail station on January 12, 2015. The accident led to one death and great public concern over basic transit operations, especially maintenance, of the aging rail system that started service forty years ago in 1976.
The Coalition’s annual Open Government Summit, held in D.C. on March 17, featured a panel on WMATA transparency questions (see "Metro's Secrecy Highlight of Summit"). Earlier OGC blog posts on the issues include this one. Continue>>>