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FTA Issues Final Rule on Rail Transit Safety

FTA announced on March 15 the State Safety Oversight Program final rule (SSO rule), which strengthens a State Safety Oversight Agency’s (SSOA) authority to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on rail transit systems.

The final rule, which replaces existing regulations, requires each SSOA to have enforcement authority, legal and financial independence from the agencies it oversees and staffing necessary for overseeing the rail transit agencies in its jurisdiction.

It also requires SSOAs to train and certify personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities and will continue to conduct triennial audits of safety programs.

“Under the SSO rule, FTA will review, approve and certify each state’s SSO program and impose financial penalties on states with non-existent or non-compliant safety oversight programs through the withholding of FTA program funding,” stated Acting Administrator Therese McMillan on DOT’s Fast Lane blog.

“There are also new requirements for rail transit agencies to notify its SSOA of accidents and incidents that meet the reportable threshold laid out in the final rule,” she said.

She added that FTA made changes to the final rule based on comments received from public transit agencies to provide greater clarity and focus regarding notification, reporting and investigation requirements.

The rule was published in the Federal Register on March 16; it will take effect 30 days later. States have three years from the effective date of the final rule to implement an approved SSO program, but FTA said it expects SSOAs to reach full compliance before that date. FTA will host webinars and provide resources to help SSOAs and the public transportation industry implement the rule. For details, click here.

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