Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Less than a year left for states to certify SSO Programs

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Less than a year left for states to certify SSO Programs Federal Transit Administration

With just under a year left for states to certify their State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs, the Federal Transit Administration is reminding those affected what is at stake should the deadline not be met: Billons in federal funds.

"Safety is our top priority and FTA is committed to working with states to help them fulfill their safety responsibilities," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. "These Safety Oversight Programs will make our rail transit systems safer for the millions of Americans relying on them each day."

There are 30 states with rail transit systems, which require FTA certification by the April 15, 2019, deadline. FTA is prohibited by law from awarding new federal transit funds to any transit provider in a state that fails to meet the deadline, until certification is achieved. This includes all FTA formula and competitive grant programs, such as the Capital Investment Grant program. By law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.

Progress toward certification has been made. In March 2018, only four states had obtained certification and five states required state legislative or executive action to occur prior to FTA certification. As of April 16, eight states had received certification, another seven have their applications under review, with the remainder at various stages of the process. Should the remaining states not obtain certification of their SSO Programs, an estimated $6.3 billion in FTA formula funds would be withheld until certification is obtained.

At a press conference on April 16, Acting Administrator Williams said FTA has the resources to deal with certifying all remaining SSO Programs, but prefaced it with strong recommendation that states not wait to submit applications. FTA explains that states should not assume that applications submitted after Sept. 30, 2018, would be certified by the deadline.

FTA reiterated that it is working closely with states to ensure the deadline is met, but also encouraged states still working on SSO Program applications to reach out to those states that have obtained certification.

Since 2013, FTA has provided approximately $112.4 million in grant funds to eligible states to develop and implement a SSO Program that is compliant with federal requirements.