TRANSIT: D.C. Metro smoke incident raising questions in Congress

Lawmakers speaking with NTSB this week about deadly accident that killed one, hospitalized dozens

January 19, 2015

Members of Congress are scheduled to speak with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) this week about its investigation into the deadly smoke release in a Washington, D.C. Metro tunnel last week that killed one passenger and hospitalized dozens more. The incident has raised questions about the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (WMATA) emergency-response procedures.

NTSB has already begun its investigation into what caused thick smoke to be released into the L’Enfant Metro subway station the afternoon of Jan. 12. According to various reports, passengers were trapped in the station for approximately 40 minutes before being evacuated. No protocol violations have been reported, but WMATA officials are expected to be called before Congress and the D.C. Council to explain what went wrong.

The Metro system has faced similar scrutiny in recent years but received a $1.5 billion package in 2008, to be distributed over 10 years, for safety improvements under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.