Four states have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs ahead of an important safety deadline, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced.
The newest states to become compliant include Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin. So far, 21 states have achieved SSO Program certification.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to gain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. Federal law does not allow for the deadline to be waived or extended, FTA notes.
“FTA is pleased that Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin 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 these states can continue to receive federal funding.”
Thirty states must obtain certification of 31 SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. Should any states fail to meet the deadline, the FTA said it is prohibited by law from awarding new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the non-compliant state until certification is achieved.
To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal requirements, such as establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees, FTA said.
A state must also ensure its SSO agency enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority and has the appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state.
SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities also must be appropriately trained, FTA said.