FTA OKs three SSO Programs

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, Editor, Railway Track & Structures; and Engineering Editor, Railway Age
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Photo: Wikipedia/Scott Ehardt

Three more states won't have to worry about the Federal Transit Administration withholding transportation funding.

Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania have obtained FTA certification of their State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs for transit operations.

The certifications bring to 11 the number states that have obtained FTA certification of their SSO Programs ahead of the April 15, 2019 deadline. An additional six states have their SSO Program into the FTA for review leaving 14 state certifications outstanding. Without certification, the FTA would be prohibited from distributing any new federal funds to those states until certification is obtained.

“FTA is pleased that Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety in their states,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. “With this certification, these three states’ transit agencies can continue to receive federal funding.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Valley Metro light-rail system and Tucson streetcar.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transit Authority (MARTA) heavy rail system and Atlanta streetcar.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) heavy rail, light rail and trolley lines; the Port Authority of Allegheny County light-rail system, and the Cambria County Transit Authority incline.

The FTA explains that to achieve certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must be appropriately trained.

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