"Before June's deadly subway crash, no federal agency stepped in to ensure that Metro found and fixed the electrical circuits now suspected of contributing to the worst accident in the system's history. That's because none is authorized to. Although the federal government regulates the safe operation of buses, Amtrak, airplanes and even ferries, it cedes primary oversight of subway safety to local panels - in the case of Metro, a little-known organization known as the Tri-State Oversight Committee. The committee has no direct regulatory authority over safety and cannot order Metro to make changes. It has no employees of its own and no dedicated office, phone or Web site. It borrows space for its monthly meetings, which officials said no member of the public has ever attended. 'No one knows we exist,' acknowledged vice chairman Matthew Bassett."