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Yesterday, the Federal Transit Administration (“FTA”) published in the Federal Register its final rule strengthening state safety oversight agencies’ (“SSOAs”) enforcement authority.  The new rule is designed to provide additional authority for SSOAs to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on rail transit systems to help ensure the safety of riders and workers.  For more than 20 years, SSOAs have served as the primary oversight agencies for rail public transportation systems within their state.  SSOAs are responsible for reviewing and approving safety plans, overseeing accident investigation and reporting and conducting triennial safety reviews.  The new rule requires each SSOA to have the enforcement authority, legal and financial independence from the agencies it oversees and the human resources necessary for overseeing the number, size and complexity of the rail transit agencies within its jurisdiction.  The new rule requires the FTA to review, approve and certify each state’s program and impose penalties on states with non-complaint safety programs through the withholding of FTA program funding.  States have three years to come into compliance.  FTA Acting Administrator, Therese McMillan, stated “FTA has delivered exactly what Congress authorized [in The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act – MAP-21]: a stronger, more robust state safety oversight program with increased enforcement tools.”

For a copy of the FTA rule, please click here.