Millions in State Transit Funding Hinge on Safety Deadline: FTA

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By Shaun Courtney

Thirty states with rail transit systems have two years to create state safety oversight (SSO) programs and receive federal approval or risk losing millions of dollars in transportation funding, the Federal Transportation Administration advised June 19.

The goal of the SSO programs is to prevent accidents and reduce the seriousness of such incidents on public transportation systems through a central oversight body in each state. The SSO rule took effect last April and gave the states three years to implement it; the deadline is April 15, 2019.

“States need to realize timely action is critical. By law, the April 2019 deadline cannot be waived or extended, and the FTA cannot obligate federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state without a certified SSO Program after that date,” FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes said in a statement.

Funding at Risk

Each state’s progress toward certification is available in an online status table. The FTA also published its calculations of how much the agency would be forced to withhold if a state failed to meet the certification deadline.

The FTA’s advisory warns that of 30 states affected by the SSO rule, nine still require state legislative action to allow the creation of a new safety oversight program. No states have had their program approved, though five states, the District of Columbia and the Metro Safety Commission (D.C., Md. and Va.) are in the last stage of review before certification.

The FTA reminded states that federal funding for state transit agencies is at risk. New York, which is in the first stage and still requires state legislative action, stands to lose nearly $1.5 billion in federal transit funds.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at scourtney@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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