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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday announced a proposed rule designed to increase state safety oversight of transit-rail agencies.The rule would increase responsibilities of state safety oversight agencies (SSOAs) by replacing the existing regulation framework with one that Foxx said would better evaluate the effectiveness of transit-rail systems. The secretary made the announcement during the final stop of his "GROW America" bus tour last week that highlighted President Barack Obama's proposal for a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.Reflecting new statutory safety authority established under the federal MAP-21 law, the proposed rule issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) would provide states more resources to oversee transit agencies. The rule would require adoption and enforcement of federal and state safety laws, and require SSOAs to be financially and legally independent of the transit-rail systems they oversee, FTA officials said in a press release."We must improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to provide the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day," said Foxx. "Rail transit is a safe travel option, but we have an obligation and opportunity to make it even safer."Also last week, the FTA announced it will publish a final interim safety certification training program designed to enhance technical competencies and capabilities of people responsible for direct safety oversight of transit-rail systems at agency, state and federal levels, and for people who audit those systems.
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