Transit worker and rider safety is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Public transit is a safe form of transportation. Transit workers should expect a safe workplace and riders should expect a safe trip.
To help ensure the continued safety of our nation’s public transit systems, the Federal Transit Administration launched the Enhanced Transit Safety and Crime Prevention Initiative to provide information and resources to help transit agencies address and prevent crime on their systems and protect transit workers and riders.
FTA resources can be used by transit agencies to prevent and address crime in their systems and protect transit workers and riders. These resources also can be used for overtime pay for enhanced security personnel presence, mental health and crisis intervention specialists.
FTA has partnered with the National Transit Institute (NTI) to provide training for transit and bus operators on assault awareness and prevention. The
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the recommendation of $2.5 billion to advance the construction or completion of 25 rail, bus rapid transit (BRT) and streetcar projects in 12 states, as well as other projects that may become ready for funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. These projects, competitively funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program, will create hundreds of construction- and operations-related jobs and help communities expand transportation options that improve access and mobility for residents.
“Across the country, communities are seeking to expand public transit as a way to create economic opportunity, improve safety, advance equity, reduce congestion and pollution, and lower the cost of living for their residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These capital projects will improve life in 25 communities and are the start of what we hope will be a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize and expand public transit across the country.”
FTA’s FY 2022 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations includes $1.56 billion for 17 CIG projects with existing grant agreements, and $461.1 million for eight new CIG projects estimated to be ready for grants in FY 2022. An additional $427.2 million is recommended for other CIG and Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) Pilot Program projects that may become ready for funding during FY 2022.
“FTA is proud to work with communities across the country to bring more environmentally friendly public transportation options to residents,” said FTA Deputy Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “These investments support President Biden’s commitment to combat climate change while also improving safety, racial equity and quality of life for thousands of Americans whose lives will be touched by these projects.”
This announcement is consistent with President Joe Biden’s FY 2022 budget, which includes first-time funding recommendations for eight transit projects in five states. These include:
In Phoenix, Arizona, the Northwest Extension Phase II project would extend Valley Metro’s light rail system 1.5 miles from the existing end-of-line station in northwest Phoenix to the Metrocenter Mall, improving access to the region’s light rail system for residents in various communities in north and west Phoenix, Glendale and Peoria, and support transit-oriented land-use planning in the corridor, including the planned redevelopment of the Metrocenter Mall site.
In Minnesota, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The METRO Gold Line BRT project in St. Paul would better connect transit riders traveling along a 10.3-mile corridor on I-94 between downtown St. Paul and the suburban cities of Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury and, more broadly, connect the eastern part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area to the regional transit network via Union Depot in downtown St. Paul; and 2) The Rochester Rapid Transit BRT project in Rochester would bring BRT service to a 2.6-mile corridor that includes Downtown Rochester, Mayo Clinic campuses, commuter lots and residential neighborhoods.
In Austin, Texas, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The Expo Center BRT project would bring BRT service to residents along a 12-mile corridor, connecting East Austin to the University of Texas, downtown Austin and other major employment areas; and 2) The Pleasant Valley BRT project would bring BRT service to a 14-mile corridor connecting residents of the Mueller neighborhood in northeast Austin to the Goodnight Ranch neighborhood in southeast Austin, and other major employment areas such as Dell Children’s Medical Center and Austin Community College (ACC) Eastview.
In Washington state, two BRT projects are recommended for funding: 1) The RapidRide I Line BRT project in South King County would bring BRT service to suburban communities along a 17-mile corridor between the cities of Renton, Kent and Auburn; and 2) The Pacific Avenue/State Route 7 BRT project in Pierce County would bring BRT service to communities along a 14.3-mile corridor between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway, connecting residents to key destinations such as the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts/Pantages Center, the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, and the University of Washington Tacoma Campus.
In Madison, Wisconsin, the Madison East-West BRT project would provide fast, reliable bus service for residents in a key 15.5-mile corridor running along East Washington Avenue, around the State Capitol building, through downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, and continuing west on University Avenue to the West Transfer Point or West Towne Mall.
The CIG Program is the federal government’s primary grant program for supporting transit capital projects that are locally planned, implemented and operated. It provides funding for investments such as new and expanded heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit and ferries, as well as corridor-based BRT investments that emulate the features of rail. The program includes funding for three categories of eligible projects, as defined by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: New Starts, Small Starts and Core Capacity.
FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2022 CIG Program, including links to individual project profiles, is available on FTA’s website.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) posted its 2021 drug and alcohol testing rates in the Federal Register Nov. 24. According to the notice, the minimum random drug testing rate will remain at 50%, while the random alcohol testing rate will remain at 10% for the year. The notice applies to employers subject to 49 CFR part 655. The rates are effective January 1, 2021.
Federal agencies have announced their random drug testing rates for the new calendar year.
In December, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a test rate increase from 25 percent to 50 percent of the average number of driver positions because of an increased number of positive test results in 2018.
In January, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that the minimum random drug testing rate will remain unchanged at 50 percent.
The Federal Railroad Administration’s minimum drug test rate remains at 25 percent for workers, excluding maintenance-of-way employees.
The random alcohol testing rate has been set for all three agencies at 10 percent.
Railroad maintenance-of-way employees are tested at a higher rate: 50 percent for drugs and 25 percent for alcohol.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced March 18 that the 31 State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs in 30 states have been certified in advance of the April 15, 2019, safety deadline.
“Safety is the department’s top priority, and we are pleased that all states have met certification requirements and are providing more rigorous state safety oversight of federally funded rail transit systems,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
Changes in federal public transportation law required states to strengthen the oversight of rail transit systems. The SSO Final Rule included a three-year compliance deadline and applied to federally funded rail fixed guideway public transportation systems such as heavy rail, light rail, monorail and streetcar systems.
“The hard work of state agencies and our shared commitment to improving the safety of our nation’s rail transit systems has been a driving force to establish stronger state safety oversight,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.
To assist states in meeting the enhanced safety provisions, federal law authorized a formula grant program. Since 2013, FTA has provided approximately $136.1 million to eligible states to develop and implement a SSO Program compliant with federal requirements.
To achieve FTA certification, a SSO program had to meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing a SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state had to ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority, and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities had to be appropriately trained.
If a state had failed to meet the deadline, FTA would have been prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification was achieved.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a total of $281 million in additional Fiscal Year 2018 federal funding allocations to five transit projects in Arizona, California, Minnesota and Texas. Funding will be provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.
“These significant investments in the public transit systems in five communities across the country will improve mobility for riders who depend upon public transit every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
FTA has advanced funding for 17 new CIG projects throughout the nation under this administration since January 20, 2017, totaling approximately $4.8 billion in funding commitments. The present administration will have executed 13 CIG funding agreements by Dec. 31, 2018, for $3.3 billion in CIG funding, compared to 10 projects for $1.08 billion during the corresponding period (Jan. 20, 2009 – Dec. 2010) for the previous administration. In addition, with the allocations announced today, the present administration is committing to execute an additional four agreements for $1.5 billion in CIG funding if those projects continue to meet the CIG program requirements.
The projects included as part of the announcement are the Tempe Streetcar project in Arizona; the Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 project and San Diego Mid-Coast Light Rail project in California; the Minneapolis Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Minnesota; and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions project in Texas.
FTA indicated its intent to fund the projects through an updated allocation notice for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 CIG funding appropriated by Congress. FTA is allocating approximately $281 million in appropriated FY 2018 CIG funding among the five projects, which either have a construction grant agreement or are nearing completion of all statutory and readiness requirements. All five projects have either completed or are in process of completing the rigorous CIG program steps as outlined in the law.
“FTA continues to evaluate and advance projects in the CIG program, considering each project on its individual merits while demonstrating good governance consistent with discretion afforded in federal law,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.
The CIG Program provides funding for major transit infrastructure capital investments nationwide. Projects accepted into the program must go through a multi-year, multi-step process according to requirements in law to be eligible for consideration to receive program funds.
New FY 2018 CIG Allocations
Tempe, AZ: Tempe Streetcar
The Tempe Streetcar is a three-mile streetcar with 14 stations and six vehicles that will connect downtown Tempe and Arizona State University. It also will connect with existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa and the airport. The total project cost is $201.9 million with $75 million in funding requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $25 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.
Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 Project
The Los Angeles Westside Purple Line Section 3 project is a 2.6-mile heavy rail extension from Century City to Westwood and the Veterans Affairs hospital that includes two stations and 16 vehicles. The total project cost is $3.7 billion with $1.3 billion in funding requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $100 million in FY 2018 CIG funds.
San Diego, CA: San Diego Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail Project
The San Diego Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail project is a 10.92-mile light rail extension from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area. The extension will improve access to employment hubs and numerous educational and medical facilities north of downtown. FTA announced a $1.04 billion grant agreement for the $2.17 billion project in September 2016. The project will receive an additional $80 million in FY 2018 CIG funds.
Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Orange Line BRT Project
The Minneapolis Orange Line BRT project is a 17-mile BRT along Interstate 35 linking job centers including downtown, Best Buy Headquarters, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Target Corporation, and Southtown Shopping Center. The total project cost is $150.7 million with $74.08 million requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $74.08 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.
Dallas, TX: Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions Project
The DART Red and Blue Line Platform Extensions project will extend and modify platforms along the existing Red and Blue Lines to accommodate three-car trains with level boarding. The total project cost is $128.7 million with $60.76 million requested through the CIG Program. Upon final FTA approval of a construction grant agreement, the project will receive $2 million in FY 2018 CIG funds to complete the CIG funding request.
To date, FTA has allocated $1.86 billion of the $2.62 billion in FY 2018 CIG funds appropriated for projects by Congress. FTA will continue to consider additional FY 2018 CIG allocations, based on the merits of individual projects.
As mandated by its drug and alcohol regulation, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will increase the minimum rate of random drug testing from 25 percent to 50 percent of covered employees for employers subject to FTA’s drug and alcohol regulation, effective January 1, 2019. This change is due to an increase in the industry’s ‘‘positive rate’’ as reflected in random drug test data for calendar year 2017.
The required minimum rate for random alcohol testing is unaffected by this change and will remain at 10 percent for 2019.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced Oct. 23 that California and Oklahoma have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.
Twenty-seven of 30 states have received approval of their plans.
“FTA is pleased that California and Oklahoma have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With certification, transit agencies in California and Oklahoma can continue to receive federal funding.”
The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for providing safety oversight of the following rail transit agencies:
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District heavy rail, light rail and automated guideway systems;
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light rail, cable car and streetcar systems;
Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail system;
Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail system
San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System light rail system;
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority light rail and heavy rail systems; and
North County Transit District light rail (trolley) system.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Oklahoma City streetcar system.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not addressed three congressional requirements for their grants programs contained in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).
According to the GAO, the FTA has not:
issued regulations regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, which are a category of eligible projects within the program;
established a program of interrelated projects designed to allow for the simultaneous development of more than one transit project within the Capital Investment Grants program; or
implemented a pilot program designed to create a fast-track approval process for transit projects that meet specific statutory criteria.
During the review, FTA told GAO that they do not have any immediate plans to address any of the three statutory provisions. The FTA cited an earlier budget proposal by President Trump to eliminate the Capital Investment Grant program, however, Congress provided the program with $2.6 billion in funding since that proposal and required FTA to continue to administer the program in doing so.
The GAO left the FTA with three recommendations for Executive Action:
The FTA administrator should initiate a rulemaking regarding the evaluation and rating process for Core Capacity Improvement projects, consistent with statutory provisions.
The FTA administrator should take steps, such as undertaking additional research or public outreach, to enable FTA to evaluate and rate projects in a program of interrelated projects, in a manner consistent with statutory provisions; and
The FTA administrator should take steps to describe the process project sponsors should follow to apply for consideration as a pilot project under the Expedited Project Delivery for Capital Investment Grants Pilot Program.
FTA stated to the GAO that it is reviewing the law and determining their next steps but did not indicate any specific plans or timeframes for addressing the three outstanding provisions. In their report, the GAO warned the FTA that “by not addressing those provisions, FTA runs the risk of failing to implement provisions of federal law.”
A pair of final regulations were issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in July that rounded out the National Public Transportation Safety Program’s regulatory framework.
The Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan rule, taking effect July 19, 2019, requires transit agencies to incorporate Safety Management System (SMS) policies and procedures in the development of safety plans. The rule sets scalable and flexible requirements for transit system safety plans by imposing the appropriate regulatory burden in achieving safety goals.
Compliance with the rule is required within a year, and FTA plans to offer guidance to assist large transit agencies in their development of safety plans and SMS implementation. FRA said application of the rule to small and/or rural transit systems will be deferred in order to evaluate the safety risks posed by these systems and to determine the need for future regulatory action.
The Public Transportation Safety Training Certification Program rule establishes a training curriculum for those who have safety oversight of rail transit systems. The rule goes into effect August 20, 2018.
“Through these rules, FTA will enter a new era of safety and we will continue to work with our state and industry partners to enhance public transit’s safety record,” acting FTA Administrator K. Jane Williams said in a July 18 release.
The authority for FTA to create a National Public Transportation Safety Program and to give it nationwide transit safety oversight was initially granted in 2012 by Congress and then enhanced by 2015’s FAST Act. Prior to that, FTA primarily was a grant-making agency.
States must receive FTA certification by April 15, 2019, or new federal transit funds cannot be awarded
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs, in advance of an important safety deadline.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.
“FTA is pleased that North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Washington have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With this certification, transit agencies in the three jurisdictions can continue to receive federal funding.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Charlotte Area Transit System light rail and streetcar systems.
The Puerto Rico Emergency and Disaster Management Bureau is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Tren Urbano heavy rail system.
The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Sound Transit light rail systems and City of Seattle street car and monorail systems.
By April 15, 2019, 30 states must obtain certification of 31 SSO programs. With today’s announcement, 17 states have now achieved SSO program certification.
If a state fails to meet the deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved. A certification status table by state is available online.
To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must be appropriately trained.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said at CES, an annual technology show in Las Vegas, that she plans to take steps toward creating policy guiding the development of self-driving transportation for trucks, buses, transit systems and trains. One of the steps that Chao plans to take toward creating this new policy is to deregulate these industries.
“I also want to take this opportunity to announce that the Department (DOT) will be seeking public input from across the transportation industry to identify existing barriers to innovation. This includes not only barriers that impact vehicles, but also impediments to innovations that can impact our highways, railroads, trains and motor carriers,” Chao said.
In response to Chao’s announcement, SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director John Risch wrote in an email, “This rush to autonomous vehicles of all kinds should worry all transportation workers.
“We have been working with Congress to limit legislation on self-driving vehicles to automobiles and to not include buses and trucks. So far our efforts on that front have been successful,” Risch said. “We will continue to work on this issue, but the times they are a-changing.”
As part of Chao’s efforts to deregulate the transportation industry, notices for public comment have appeared in the Federal Register on behalf of DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Click here to read the Request for Information on Integration of ADS into the Highway Transportation System as published by the Federal Register – to be published 01/18
Click here to read the Request for Comments on Automated Transit Buses Research Program as published in the Federal Register
Click here to read the Request for Comment on Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation
Click here to read the Request for Comment on Removing Regulatory Barriers for Automated Vehicles from the Federal Register