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FTA to get oversight over rail safety

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(AP, ABC7) - Metro's red line crash three years ago that killed nine people is leading to greater federal oversight of public transit systems.

The nation's first federal safety standards for transit agencies are included in a transportation bill that was approved Friday in Congress.

The Federal Transit Administration will get oversight authority to set minimum standards for rail safety and training programs.

Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin championed the legislation sought by the Obama administration.

It was the June 22, 2009, Metro crash that focused Capitol Hill's attention on transit safety.

The new oversight will apply to all public transportation systems. Subways are the only transportation systems that currently aren't subject to federal safety standards.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says the transit agency welcomes the oversight.

Opinion of riders

Every day, to get to her job here at the Ilori Eyeglass store at Friendship Heights Metro station, Julia Fuentes takes public transit.

But she admits that safety is always a concern since the deadly June 2009 crash that left 70 red line riders injured and nine dead.

Even though daily rider Sue Garton thinks WMATA does a relatively good job, considering its the nation’s second busiest transit system, she likes the idea of more federal oversight.

But Gloria Seelig says for her, it's not her safety on Metro she's concerned about. It's getting to her job as a museum volunteer on time that's a bigger concern.

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