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Transit chief seeks federal oversight

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's virtually no federal safety oversight of subways, light rail and other urban train systems and the Obama administration wants to change that, a transportation official said Tuesday.

Peter Rogoff, the new head of the Federal Transit Administration, said his agency is prohibited by law from establishing any national safety standards, conducting federal inspections or requiring specific operating practices for the local and regional transit agencies that provide more than 3 billion passenger trips by rail a year. Instead, the FTA's role is primarily to make grants.

Nor is there any other federal agency that sets standards or oversees safety at urban transit systems, Rogoff told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

"The new administration finds this unacceptable and we expect to propose reforms," Rogoff said.