Tuesday, March 20, 2018

FTA certifies SSO Programs in Massachusetts and Hawaii

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FTA certifies SSO Programs in Massachusetts and Hawaii Federal Transit Administration

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has certified the rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs of Massachusetts and Hawaii.

The two states become the fifth and sixth states to obtain federal certification of their SSO Programs along with Utah, Minnesota, Ohio and the District of Columbia.

"FTA has been helping states develop safety oversight programs that meet Federal certification requirements so transit agencies can continue to receive federal funding for the safe movement of millions of people every day," said FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams. "Massachusetts and Hawaii are among the early first states to achieve SSO Program certification to strengthen oversight of rail transit passenger and worker safety for rail transit systems in those states."

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems in the engineering or construction phase of development or in operation to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Utilities is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). In Hawaii, the Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).

There are 30 states that must obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by the 2019 deadline. Should the deadline be missed, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved.

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.