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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FTA certifies rail safety oversight programs in Colorado, Virginia

In Colorado, the Public Utilities Commission will provide safety oversight of Denver's light- and commuter-rail networks.
Photo – Federal Transit Administration


Virginia and Colorado have obtained federal certification of their transit-rail state safety oversight (SSO) programs, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced late last week.

Federal law requires states with transit-rail systems in operation to obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by April 15, 2019. States with transit-rail systems in the engineering or construction phase also must get their SSO programs certified by the deadline.

To become certified, an SSO program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the transit agencies it oversees, FTA officials said in a press release.

In Virginia, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation is providing safety oversight of Hampton Roads Transit, which operates The Tide light-rail system in Norfolk. In Colorado, the Public Utilities Commission is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Regional Transportation District of Denver, which operates light- and commuter-rail networks.

States that fail to meet the April 2019 deadline risk losing federal funds. Under the law, the FTA can't award new federal transit funds to agencies until certification is obtained.

Thirty states must obtain FTA certification of their SSO programs by the deadline. Five states —  Ohio, Minnesota, Utah, Hawaii and Massachusetts — and the District of Columbia have already met the deadline.

Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia are expected to jointly submit a separate application to submit their SSO program for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's rail system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/9/2018