FTA issues final rule to give state agencies more authority over rail safety

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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a final rule that aims to improve safety oversight in the U.S. rail industry.

The FTA unveiled the first safety regulation mandated under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, which aims to help create a comprehensive public transportation safety program to make the system safe for passengers and workers, building on the State Safety Oversight Program. This rule, the State Safety Oversight Program rule replaces current regulations and strengthens State Safety Oversight Agencies' (SSOAs) authority to take steps to prevent accidents on the rail transit system. Published on Wednesday in the Federal Register, the regulation goes into effect 30 days after publication.

For over two decades, SSOAs have provided the main oversight for fixed guideway public transportation rail systems in each state. During that time, SSOA leaders have reviewed and approved of various System Safety Program Plans. They also conduct triennial safety reviews and manage accident investigations and reports.

Unfortunately, SSOAs don’t have adequate enforcement authority. They also have limited financial resources, which made the agencies ineffective in guaranteeing worker and passenger safety in the transit system.



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