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Will Obama set riders at ease?

<p>With two Green Line trolley crashes in 18 months and a scathing reportciting critical projects left unfunded by the MBTA, is the Obamaadministration's push to impose federal control over safety regulationson the nation's transit agencies the answer to T riders' concerns? <br /></p>

With two Green Line trolley crashes in 18 months and a scathing report citing critical projects left unfunded by the MBTA, is the Obama administration's push to impose federal control over safety regulations on the nation's transit agencies the answer to T riders' concerns?

While few details about the plan are available, local transportation officials have signaled a willingness to accept expanded oversight — though they stressed safety is already a “top priority.”

“We look forward to learning more about the Obama Adminstration’s proposal for federal oversight and welcome an additional partner for our ongoing efforts to strengthen and improve safety for transit riders. We have already put a plan in place at the MBTA that includes a comprehensive review of the backlog in safety and maintenance projects,” said MassDOT spokesman Colin Durrant.

Though the T has suffered two horrific Green Line trolley crashes since May 2008, other transit systems have also faced increased scrutiny following deadly accidents in California last year and in Washington D.C. in June.

Paul Regan, head of the MBTA Advisory Board, said creating federal safety standards is a step in the right direction. But Regan has also long advocated for more federal dollars to support the cash-strapped MBTA, and this is no different.

“I’d hate to see them mandate innovative safety techniques without at least helping to pay for some of them,” Regan said.