U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced that Minnesota is the second of 30 states to receive Federal Transit Administration (FTA) certification for its State Safety Oversight (SSO) Program. Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to establish an FTA-certified SSO Program by April 15, 2019 or risk having federal funds to public transportation agencies throughout that state withheld until certification is achieved. Secretary Chao made the announcement during her remarks at the 2017 APTA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Atlanta on Wednesday.
"Safety is the top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration," said Secretary Chao. "Public transit will continue to play an important role in the future of our nation’s infrastructure. We are committed to keeping our nation’s transit systems safe, reliable, and accessible."
Minnesota is the second state to complete the process and have its SSO Program certified. In August, FTA announced that Ohio was the first state to be certified.
"FTA is working to partner with the remaining 28 states to help them establish their State Safety Oversight Program prior to the April 15, 2019 deadline," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, in her remarks to APTA attendees on Monday. "I want to emphasize, that FTA will do all we can to help each of the states meet the deadline so that they can continue to receive federal transit funding that contribute to making rail and bus services possible."
States that fail to establish an FTA-certified SSO Program by the deadline are at risk of having all transit dollars withheld until certification is achieved. That includes funds for rail, bus, and other transit services in urbanized and non-urbanized areas. FTA is urging states to work quickly to enact any necessary legislation, particularly those states whose legislatures meet only part-time or biennially. Currently, five states (Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) and Puerto Rico still require state legislative or executive action prior to FTA certification. By federal law, the April 15, 2019 deadline cannot be waived or extended.