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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

2/23/2018



Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Feds certify D.C.'s transit-rail safety oversight program


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The District of Columbia has obtained federal certification for its transit-rail State Safety Oversight (SSO) program, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced yesterday.

Under the the district's SSO program, the D.C. Fire and Emergency Management Services is responsible for providing safety oversight of the D.C. Streetcar system.

"The District of Columbia is among the first in the nation to achieve SSO Program certification to strengthen rail transit passenger and worker safety," said FTA Deputy Administrator K. Jane Williams in a press release. "FTA is doing all we can to help states certify their safety oversight programs so transit agencies can continue to receive federal funding for the safe movement of millions of people every day."

Thirty states with transit-rail systems must obtain certification of their SSO programs by the federal deadline of April 15, 2019. The FTA is prohibited by law from awarding new federal transit funds to transit agencies within states that miss the deadline. Under federal law, the deadline cannot be extended.

Currently, five states — Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee — still require state legislative or executive action prior to FTA certification.

Separately, the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland are expected to jointly submit to the FTA an SSO certification application for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's Metrorail system, which will be overseen by the Metrorail Safety Commission.

The FTA is working with the jurisdictions as they seek to achieve SSO certification and the resumption of state oversight of Metrorail, FTA officials said.

To achieve certification, an SSO program must meet federal requirements including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the transit-rail agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that the SSO agency adopts and enforces federal and state safety laws; has investigatory authority; and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the transit-rail agencies in the state's jurisdiction.

Moreover, SSO agency personnel responsible for safety oversight must be appropriately trained.

Ohio, Minnesota and Utah also have had their SSOs certified.



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