FTA Issues Two Final Safety-Related Rules

The Federal Transit Administration issued two final rules on July 18 that, according to an agency statement, aim to “strengthen the safety of public transportation systems.”

The first is the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan rule – which takes effect July 19, 2019, with full compliance expected within one year of that date – requires transit agencies to incorporate Safety Management System or SMS policies and procedures into their safety plans to better manage their safety risks. “Since no two transit systems are alike, the rule sets scalable and flexible requirements for safety plans by imposing the appropriate regulatory burden in achieving safety goals,” FTA said.

The agency noted that SMS is a “comprehensive and collaborative approach to safety” and is one “many transit agencies have not previously used.” In the coming months, FTA said it anticipates making guidance available to transit agencies that will assist in their development of safety plans and implementation of SMS.

The agency added that it is “deferring action on applicability of the rule for small and/or rural transit systems” in order to evaluate the safety risks posed by these systems and to determine the need for future regulatory action.

The second final rule issued by FTA establishes a Public Transportation Safety Training Certification Program which aims to formulate a “basic training curriculum” to enhance the technical competencies and capabilities of individuals responsible for the safety oversight of rail transit systems.

That rule takes effect on August 20 this year and FTA believes it will “reduce the burden” to the transit industry from the interim training requirements by eliminating a course requirement and allowing for “equivalency training credit.”

The agency added that in 2012 and again in 2015, Congress granted FTA significant new safety authorities that expanded its role from being primarily a “grant-making agency” to one that can also function as a “safety oversight regulatory body.”

“FTA has worked diligently to reach this important stage of completing the final regulatory framework of our National Public Transportation Safety Program,” noted FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams in a statement. “Through these rules, FTA will enter a new era of safety and we will continue to work with our state and industry partners to enhance public transit’s safety record.”

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