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Ohio First to Achieve Federal Certification of SSO Program

Associate Administrator, Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, FTA

In August 2017, FTA announced that Ohio had become the first of 30 states to receive FTA certification of its State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program. Robust SSO programs are crucial to the safety of our nation’s rail transit systems.Ohio’s accomplishment is a result of the state’s commitment to the certification process and demonstrates that the Ohio SSO Program has the authority, resources and expertise needed to oversee the rail transit systems in that state.

If a state fails to certify its SSO Program by April 15, 2019, FTA is prohibited by federal law from obligating any new federal transit funds to any public transportation agency (bus or rail) within that state until certification is achieved. The certification deadline ­cannot be waived or extended.

States must be proactive in their approach to attaining certification. FTA encourages states not to let hurdles, legislative or otherwise, hold up development of their SSO Program. For states that still require legislation or executive action from state leadership, SSO Program managers can develop a workload assessment, establish a staffing plan and continue to work with FTA to ensure that the individual components of their SSO Program would meet federal requirements.

Since 2013, FTA has been committed to assisting states throughout the certification process by providing approximately $90 million in grant funding and access to a certification toolkit that provides technical assistance.

State governors, legislatures and ­public transportation leaders are strongly encouraged to provide the necessary support to the certification process. SSO Program certification is not only important because of the financial hardship not meeting the deadline may cause, but also for the safety of public transportation riders and employees.

Over the past year, FTA has sent letters to governors and state legislatures, as well as state agencies responsible for rail transit safety oversight, to inform them of the impending deadline.

FTA recommends that states submit their certification applications by April 15, 2018, if at all possible, to allow time for FTA review and any necessary revisions related to that review to be made.

FTA has made a status table to track progress toward certification available on its website or here. The status table also identifies the FY 2019 grant funds FTA is ­projected to apportion to each state. These figures represent the minimum amount of funds that FTA would be unable to obligate if a state’s SSO Program has not obtained certification by April 15, 2019.

For more information, contact Patrick Nemons, acting director, Office of Safety Review.

APTA will offer a session on SSO certification and best practices Wednesday, Oct. 11, as part of the 2017 Annual Meeting & EXPO in Atlanta. For information, click here.


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