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FTA SSO Deadline Nears

Acting Administrator
Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) deadline for State Safety Oversight (SSO) program certification is just over a year away. Many states have made significant progress toward certification, yet as of February 2018, 26 states are still working to cross the certification finish line.

I know firsthand that establishing an SSO agency is not a simple task, so I want to emphasize FTA’s commitment to supporting states through the certification process and remind everyone of some key upcoming dates.

In March 2016, FTA issued a final rule to strengthen and enhance states’ authority to oversee the safety of their rail transit systems. The SSO rule requires states with FTA-funded rail transit to establish and obtain FTA certification of an SSO program by April 15, 2019.

If a state fails to meet the certification deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to public transportation agencies in that state until certification is achieved. This includes bus, rail and other transit services in urbanized and non-urbanized areas across the state.

Because the deadline cannot be waived or extended, FTA strongly encourages states to submit certification applications by April 15, 2018—a full year in advance—to allow ample time for evaluation and certification. Further, if a state applies for certification after Sept. 30, 2018, FTA cannot guarantee the state will be certified before the April 15, 2019, deadline.

Thirty states must meet the SSO requirements. As of February 2018, FTA has certified four SSO programs: Ohio, Minnesota, Utah and the District of Columbia. Currently, five states (Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee) still require state legislative or executive action prior to FTA certification.

Since the final rule was published in March 2016, FTA has been in regular communication with SSO program managers and staff, including one-on-one monthly calls, quarterly conference calls and semi-annual stakeholder meetings. We have conducted training workshops, webinars and distributed guidance to SSO program managers regarding requirements of the certification process. I have reached out to governors, legislative leadership, state DOTs and rail transit agency CEOs to emphasize the importance of meeting this deadline.

FTA’s SSO certification web page includes a complete list of affected states, their certification status and the estimated funding at risk if a state fails to obtain certification by the deadline. For specific information regarding a state’s progress, please contact that state’s designated SSO manager.

FTA will continue to work with the remaining states to support them in meeting the April 15, 2019, deadline so they can continue to receive grants that make rail and bus services possible. We remain committed to partnering with our stakeholders to improve and strengthen SSO programs across the nation.

For more information about the SSO program, click here.

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