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Frequently Asked Questions

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Answer:

SMS is about risk management and ensuring that resources are allocated appropriately to manage risk commensurate with the size and complexity of the public transportation agency and its operations. The exact source of the risk is not limited by discipline to “safety” versus "security" versus "emergency preparedness." Instead risk in SMS is all-hazards in nature. All considerations that threaten the safety and well-being of passengers, employees, system equipment and infrastructure must be managed as part of the total risk profile of the organization.

Answer:

The SSO apportionment notice is an official announcement from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regarding the apportionment of FY 2013 and FY 2014 SSO Formula Grant Program funds. This notice responds to public comments on the May 13, 2013 SSO Illustrative Apportionment, describes the final formula used to apportion funds, and identifies grant requirements and next steps to apply for this grant program.
SSO Formula Grant Program funds must be used to develop or carry out SSO programs in accordance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Answer:

The transition to an SMS approach is a phased process that is organized to provide a manageable series of steps to follow, including the allocation of resources and management of the workload.
The experience of Transport Canada, as well as SMS Pilot Project Participants in the United States aviation industry, indicate phased implementation of a robust SMS takes approximately three to five years. One of the benefits of the pilot projects FTA will be undertaking is to determine realistic timelines.

Answer:

Other eligible activities may include office supplies; personal protective equipment; technical engineering and inspection tools; uniforms; vehicle operational expenses; furniture; course registration and fees; conferences, workshops, and seminars; and travel, per diem, mileage, and lodging. Please see Appendix B of 2 C.F.R. Part 225 (PDF) and consult with your FTA regional office.

Answer:

States that must continue to meet 49 CFR Part 659 requirements may use existing resources to do so. However, each State is responsible for identifying an independent local match in order to receive funding under FTA’s SSO Formula Grant Program, which cannot include funding received from the RTA. FTA will not award a grant until this match is identified and the SSO agency is no longer dependent upon funds received from the RTA.

Answer:

Based on SMS concepts and principles, FTA will develop a roadmap for carrying out the comprehensive Public Transportation Safety Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. 5329. Specific activities include the following:
FTA will first focus on establishing an SMS oversight framework through rulemakings, complemented by technical assistance and outreach.
As authorized by 49 U.S.C. 5329(e), FTA will award grants to eligible States to help them strengthen their rail transit safety oversight, attain certification for their State Safety Oversight (SSO) programs, and institute strong safety training programs for SSO staff, emphasizing the components of SMS.
For bus, FTA will work to ensure that bus operators receive the tools and technical assistance they need to apply SMS principles in ways that are cost-effective and add value for the millions of riders who depend on bus service every day.
FTA will enlist the support of the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), established by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, on several of the rulemakings and other safety initiatives under the Public Transportation Safety Program authorized by 49 U.S.C. 5329.
FTA will reach out to leaders in SMS, both in transportation and other fields, for support and assistance in bringing SMS to public transportation. The agency and its partners will pursue gap analyses, pilot projects, development of specific SMS programs, plans and guidelines, and training and technical assistance for staff and other designated personnel at SSOAs, public transportation agencies, and FTA.

Answer:

State funds or in-kind contributions from the State can count toward the State’s local match. At the time of application, you must certify that your State has funds or approved in-kind resources to serve as the local match. See FTA’s Annual Certifications and Assurances and the FTA Master Agreement that all applicants for grant funds must submit for details.
For States that oversee multi-State rail transit systems, funds spent by partner States may be used as part of the local share as long as those funds meet all requirements of the grant program. As part of the grant application and award process, these States will need to show evidence of agreement regarding how the local share will be met amongst the States.
Additionally, MAP-21 requires SSO Programs to be financially independent from the rail transit systems they oversee and restricts the type of funding that can be used as the State’s local match. As such, States that currently rely upon fees, assessments, or funding from rail transit systems in their jurisdictions will be unable to use those funds for any SSO Formula Grant Program activities. In addition, the State may not use other Federal funds as all or a part of its local match. FTA will work with each State on an individual basis to identify permissible local share sources.

Answer:

All training supported by the FTA grant must be related to developing or carrying out a State’s SSO program under MAP-21, and each State should clearly demonstrate how each training course proposed in its grant does this. FTA will approve the training activities through the grant application process.
FTA encourages each SSO Agency (SSOA) to develop and implement a training plan that identifies skill gaps and appropriate training to fill those gaps. In particular, FTA encourages States to focus training activities on Safety Management System (SMS) training, which will be offered by FTA, and technical training related to the operating conditions of the rail transit systems the State oversees.
Eligible training may be offered by the US Department of Transportation’s Transportation Safety Institute, the National Transit Institute, post-secondary institutions, non-profit organizations, industry organizations, or other third-party providers. The training program does not have a post-secondary degree-seeking purpose, and as noted above, all training funded through this grant must be related to developing or carrying out a State’s SSO program under MAP-21. Thus, FTA does not anticipate that such degrees will be a typical result of training funded by the grant.
FTA is developing an interim safety certification training program, as required under 49 U.S.C. 5329(c), that may provide further guidance on eligible training activities. Once established, this interim program will become the basis for determining eligible training activities in future funding years. FTA expects to publish a proposed interim program for comment in Spring 2014.

Answer:

A State can receive funds once the grant is awarded. States will work with the FTA regional offices to develop their grant applications. Please refer to FTA’s cash management procedures in the most recent version of FTA Circular 5010.1 or consult your FTA regional office for additional information.

Answer:

The grant application is currently available electronically through FTA’s TEAM system. States must coordinate with their Regional Office representative to register in TEAM. States must have their CWPs approved by FTA before they can complete the grant application in TEAM. The CWP template, a sample completed CWP, and technical assistance documents are available on the SSO program page.

Answer:

SMS has worked well in other transportation industries facing challenges similar to our own including aviation, maritime and railroads, around the world, and at large and small agencies alike. SMS is scalable and effective across a broad range of organizations and applications. SMS is also now the safety policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and it is endorsed by the Transit Rail Advisory Committee on Safety (TRACS) and major public transportation industry associations.
SMS is now required in the U.S. aviation industry (http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/sms/). It is also used in the maritime industry to address accidents and hazards caused by human factors (http://www.imo.org/OurWork/HumanElement/safetymanagement/Pages/Default.aspx, and by the U.S. Coast Guard in their application of International Maritime Organization (IMO) principles, codes and standards to the domestic maritime shipping industry (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/1994/n2-94.pdf and http://www.uscg.mil), and by Transport Canada to support safety for passenger and freight railroad operations (http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/sms-menu-618.htm.). Both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Safety Council (NSC) endorse the principles of SMS. See the NTSB document at https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/mwl/Pages/mwl-3.aspx and the NSC documents at http://www.nsc.org.

Answer:

States with a rail fixed guideway public transportation system (rail transit system) that is not regulated by the FRA, or any such system in the engineering or construction phase of development, are eligible to receive funding.

Answer:

As of June 19, 2017, there were nine states that still require legislative action prior to FTA certification: Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Answer:

Transportation Safety Institute, U.S. DOT
National Transportation Institute, Rutgers University
Johns Hopkins University
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
All have skilled professional training course development staff.

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Usually from a cadre of gifted and dedicated transit industry professionals who volunteer their time to better the industry.

Answer:

Recognizing the need for immediate assistance with the development of the transit safety oversight workforce, MAP-21 requires FTA to move forward with developing interim provisions for training and certifying this workforce in advance of the rulemaking process. Therefore, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 5329(c)(2), FTA has developed interim provisions for the certification and training of designated Federal, State, and other designated personnel who conduct safety audits and examinations and transit system personnel with direct safety oversight responsibility.

Answer:

Because personalized, face-to-face training is very effective. And thus helps the transit industry improve in safety, security and operational areas.

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SMS enables agencies to address any cultural and organizational problems that lead to safety hazards, identifying system-wide trends in safety, and managing emerging hazards before they result in incidents or accidents. SMS will help public transportation agencies, the States, and industry associations better prepare for and manage conditions that cause accidents.
MAP-21 provides the opportunity to incorporate SMS principles into the safety regulatory framework used by FTA for the public transportation industry and the States providing safety oversight for the rail transit industry and rural and small urban community transportation providers.
FTA and the transit industry have been presented with a rare opportunity to implement a modern regulatory framework that will help this vital industry flourish for generations. In the past, the conversation between regulators and industry has revolved around one central notion: compliance. As we stand up the first major safety regulatory system of the 21st century we have to seize this opportunity to change that conversation to address risk as well as compliance. SMS is the language that will allow this new conversation to occur.
Adopting SMS principles will further deepen the industry’s commitment to the safety of its passengers, employees, equipment and facilities and will strengthen its core competencies in accident investigation, hazard management, safety data acquisition and analysis, and internal auditing. Most significantly, SMS offers the promise of a stronger culture for employees and managers to work together to solve safety problems.

Answer:

While travel by transit is the safest form of travel among all surface transportation modes, the potential for catastrophic events remains. Over the last decade, the public transportation industry has experienced several high-profile accidents that revealed significant gaps in the programs developed by FTA and the States to oversee public safety. Further, over the last decade, rates of fatalities and injury in public transportation have largely remained stagnant, while almost all other surface transportation modes have experienced significant reductions.

Answer:

FTA is proposing this general directive to address unsafe conditions and practices that lead to stop signal overruns and the risks of death, injury and property damage. We are encouraging rail transit agencies and the State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOA) that oversee them to provide comments on the proposed general directive. Comments must be received by March 20, 2017. Following a summary and analysis of the public comments, FTA will issue a final General Directive to the transit industry.

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