The Maryland has obtained certification from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for its rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program, in advance of an important safety deadline.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019.
“The FTA is pleased that Maryland has developed a safety oversight program that meets federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety in the state,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. "FTA is doing all we can to help states certify their safety oversight programs so transit agencies can continue to receive federal funding for the safe movement of millions of people every day."
The Maryland Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Maryland Transit Administration’s heavy- and light-rail systems in Baltimore.
Separate from the announcement, Maryland, together with Virginia and the District of Columbia, are expected to jointly submit to FTA an SSO Program certification application for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail system, which will be overseen by the Metrorail Safety Commission.
Thirty states must obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. With the Maryland announcement, 13 states have now achieved SSO Program certification. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended.
If a state fails to meet the deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved. A certification status table by state is available online.
To achieve FTA 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.