U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Oct. 11 that Minnesota has become the second of 30 states to receive Federal Transit Administration certification as required by law for its program to provide state safety oversight of rail transit operations.
Chao made the announcement during the annual meeting in Atlanta of the American Public Transportation Association. The FTA had said in August that Ohio became the first state to achieve certification of its rail safety oversight program.
She also reminded those attending that federal law requires all states with rail transit systems to establish an FTA-certified SSO program by April 15, 2019, or risk having their federal funds frozen for all public transportation agencies until certification is achieved.
That would include funds for rail, bus and other transit services in both urban and rural areas, the FTA said, adding that by law it cannot waive or extend the deadline.
“Public transit will continue to play an important role in the future of our nation’s infrastructure,” Chao said. “We are committed to keeping our nation’s transit systems safe, reliable and accessible.”
FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams also told the APTA audience that her agency is working with the remaining 28 states on the list to help them establish their oversight programs ahead of the 2019 deadline.
Williams said the “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.”
The FTA is also urging states to work quickly to enact any necessary legislation, particularly those states whose legislatures meet only part-time or every two years.
It said that five states – Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee – plus Puerto Rico still require legislative or executive action before the FTA can certify their oversight programs.
Its list of affected states and other jurisdictions shows that some are still in early stages of submitting program information to the FTA, while 11 have submitted all required documentation but are working to address comments or questions the FTA has raised.