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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FTA proposes new safety program rules for transit industry

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) late last week unveiled a proposed rule to establish a public transportation safety program that would create a framework for the agency to monitor, oversee and enforce safety in the public transit industry.

Based on the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems (SMS), the proposed rule would implement FTA's authority to inspect, audit and examine public transit agencies for safety; test their equipment, facilities, rolling stock and operations; and take appropriate enforcement actions. Enforcement could include directing the use or withholding of federal funds and issuing directives and advisories, FTA officials said in a press release.

The proposed rule establishes SMS as the foundation for the FTA safety program, which focuses on organization-wide policy and accountability, proactive hazard identification, and risk-based decision-making, officials said. SMS is a comprehensive approach in which management and labor come together to address transit systems’ safety problems.

The FTA is implementing its new safety oversight authority, which was established under the federal legislation known as MAP-21.

"Every day, millions of Americans take public transportation to get to work, school, medical appointments, and other important destinations," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This new program will help us ensure that transit continues to be a safe way to get around, and a safe place to work."

The proposed rule also defines the contents of a National Public Transportation Safety Plan, which the FTA anticipates publishing in a separate Federal Register notice for public review and comment in the next several months. The plan will include safety performance criteria for all public transportation modes, safety performance standards for transit vehicles, the definition of "state of good repair," and a safety certification training program.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/17/2015