Posts Tagged ‘State Safety Oversight Program’

All state rail transit safety oversight programs have been certified by FTA

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.

Final three states receive FTA approval for rail safety oversight plans

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced last week that Florida, New Jersey and New York have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs.

The three states were the last of 30 to get the required approval before a mid-April federal deadline.

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019.

“FTA is pleased that Florida, New Jersey and New York have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

Read the full press release here.

California and Oklahoma have their state safety oversight plans approved by FTA

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.

For the full release from FTA, follow this link.

FTA certifies state safety oversight programs of N.C., Wash. & Puerto Rico

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.

FTA announces final rule strengthening state safety oversight of rail transit systems

FTAWASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced a final rule that significantly strengthens state safety oversight and enforcement authority to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on rail transit systems.

“With the more rigorous and effective state safety oversight required by this final rule and federal law, transit systems across the nation will receive greater safety oversight with the aim of improving safety for passengers and transit system employees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx “Greater investigatory and enforcement power combined with better training will give state safety oversight watchdogs sharper teeth to help rail transit agencies keep their systems safe.”

The final rule will officially be published in the Federal Register on March 16, 2016, and will take effect 30 days after publication. It applies to States where a rail transit system operates, and carries out several explicit Federal statutory requirements, including that a State must submit its State Safety Oversight (SSO) program to FTA for certification and that the designated SSO Agency must have financial and legal independence from the rail transit agencies it oversees.

In addition, the final rule requires that a State must ensure that the 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 its jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO Agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must have proper training and certification.

“FTA has delivered exactly what Congress authorized: a stronger, more robust state safety oversight program with increased enforcement tools,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “States should act swiftly to come into compliance to provide a higher level of safety for their rail transit system riders and workers.”

Within three years of the effective date of this final rule, States with an operating rail transit system must have a SSO program certified by FTA. FTA has already certified two of the affected 30 States as being compliant: California and Massachusetts. Most of the remaining 28 States have also already taken some actions toward compliance with these critical safety requirements.

To assist in this effort, Congress has authorized a stable source of funds to the States for their use in meeting these new safety oversight obligations. The existing Federal SSO program regulations will remain in effect during the transition period and then be rescinded.

If a State is non-compliant after the three-year period, FTA may withhold Federal funds until its SSO program is certified. If a State fails to establish an SSO program, FTA is prohibited by law from obligating any Federal financial assistance to any entity in that state otherwise eligible to receive FTA program funding.

Strengthening the existing State Safety Oversight Program is one of four components of a comprehensive public transportation safety program Congress required FTA to establish in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act in 2012 and reauthorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015.

FTA is actively moving forward on the other three components as well. Interim provisions for the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program have been in effect since May 2015 and FTA is now reviewing comments received on the proposed rule which would make the interim provisions permanent. The National Public Transportation Safety Plan and the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan were both recently released and comments will be accepted through April 5, 2016. All four, plus other related rulemaking actions, will collectively establish the regulatory framework needed to implement and strengthen new and existing FTA safety oversight and enforcement authorities.