Proposed Rule Would Increase State Safety Oversight of Rail Transit Systems

Proposed Rule Would Increase State Safety Oversight of Rail Transit Systems
Image: USDOT
February 24, 2015

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has announced a proposed rule that would increase oversight responsibilities of State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) by replacing the existing outdated regulatory framework with one designed to better evaluate the effectiveness of a rail transit agency's system safety program.

Reflecting new statutory safety authority established by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, the proposed rule, issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), would give states more resources to increase oversight over rail transit systems. USDOT says that the new rule would require adoption and enforcement of federal and state safety laws, and require SSOAs to be financially and legally independent of the rail transit systems they oversee.

"We must improve, modernize and transform rail transit safety oversight to provide the increased level of safety expected by the millions of passengers who use rail transit every day," said Secretary Foxx. "Rail transit is a safe travel option, but we have an obligation and opportunity to make it even safer."

"FTA appreciates the continued cooperation and engagement of our state and rail transit industry partners as we take this major step forward toward a new safety regulatory framework," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. "We drafted the proposed rule to ensure it allows for the flexibility and scalability needed to provide effective safety benefits for passengers and employees of transit agencies of all sizes and operating environments."

Public comments on the proposed new rule will be accepted for sixty days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Secretary Foxx announced the proposed rule at Washington's Union Station, the final stop on his four-day, five state 'GROW AMERICA Express ' bus tour highlighting the importance of investing in America's infrastructure and to encourage Congress to act on a long-term transportation bill.

On February 2, 2015, the Obama Administration announced a plan to address the nation's infrastructure deficit with a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The proposal builds on the GROW AMERICA Act, which the Administration first released last year. The plan makes critical investments in infrastructure needed to promote long-term economic growth, enhance safety and efficiency, and support jobs for the 21st century.