The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that West Virginia has obtained federal certification of 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. In West Virginia, the Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system.

"FTA is pleased that West Virginia 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. "With this certification, West Virginia’s transit agencies can continue to receive federal funding."

Thirty states must obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. With this most recent announcement, 12 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.

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.

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