OpinionEditorial MTA finally gives safety its props An MTA New York City Subway car arrives in a station. Photo Credit: Getty Images By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Updated February 26, 2014 6:24 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email The MTA seems to get it now. In the wake of December's deadly Metro-North derailment in the Bronx, the MTA has installed new speed control technology on 10 treacherous curves in the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road systems. And it has drawn up a new executive flow chart. Don't laugh -- this matters. The MTA has added the position of chief safety officer to its senior staff -- a key official who will report directly to MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast. And all safety supervisors throughout the MTA realm will now report directly to their presidents. These jobs demand sharp judgments, balancing risks and costs in a system that provides 7.4 million rides a day on city subways and buses alone. The elevation of safety officers in the pecking order should guarantee that urgent needs are addressed quickly and competently. But the greatest safety challenges the MTA faces could have less to do with signals, burdensome bureaucracy and speed controls -- and more to do with the human problem of complacency. The story of Metro-North's 2013 -- a disastrous year for the railroad -- should serve as a cautionary tale. The agency, created in 1983 from remnants of several struggling lines, swiftly morphed into one of the world's most admired railroads. It won prestigious prizes within the industry. Then last year it all came apart. There was the power outage near Mount Vernon that left 65,000 daily round-trippers to Grand Central in the lurch for days. There was the collision on the New Haven line that injured numerous passengers. And, of course, there was the horrific crash of that speeding train in the Bronx that killed four passengers and injured scores. What went wrong? Metro-North officials kept emphasizing that the system had worked fine for 30 years. Yes, but that ultimately didn't matter. Metro-North had been asleep at the switch. The MTA can't let that happen again. By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.