The Senate Tuesday night confirmed by voice vote President Trump's appointments of Raymond Martinez as head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Ronald L. Batory as head of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the rail safety agency. Both are sub-agencies of the Department of Transportation.
A lawyer by training, Martinez served for eight years as chairman and chief safety administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. From 2000 to 2005, he was commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
Batory is former president and CEO of Conrail, the Northeast railroad system that in 1999 was acquired jointly by eastern railroads CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp., and its assets divided between the two.
The Senate's actions end months of waiting for the nominations to move through the process. Martinez was nominated in September, and Batory in July.
Martinez assumes the FMCSA post as the agency begins to deepen its implementation of its electronic logging device (ELD) mandate requiring virtually all trucks built after the year 2000 to be equipped with electronic logging equipment. The mandate took effect Dec. 18, and state safety inspectors will begin writing out-of-service orders April 1 for fleets and drivers found to be in non-compliance.
Batory takes over at FRA amid a spate of recent derailments, and will shepherd the agency through the initiative requiring railroads to implement "positive train control" (PTC) technology designed to automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur. PTC is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive train speed, and train movements through misaligned track switches.
Under a 2008 law, Class I freight railroads were required to have PTCs installed on their main lines by the end of 2015. The deadline has since been pushed back to Dec. 31, 2018. Railroads had complained earlier that the law amounted to an expensive unfunded mandate whose safety benefits had not been fully proven.