Earlier this month, President Obama signed the new surface transportation authorization known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21 ). The law grants the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) significant new authority to strengthen the safety of public transportation, which is vitally important for millions of transit riders throughout the United States.
Consistent with President Obama's transit safety proposal of2009 and MAP-21 , the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the States are partners in the endeavor to carry out the law's safety provisions.
The new law calls on FTA to certify State Safety Oversight (SSO) agencies and to establish requirements as to what authority and standards SSO agencies must have in place to adequately protect the traveling public. The law also provides grant money that FTA will direct to the States to comply with these new requirements. However, while the Administration initially proposed 100 percent Federal funding for this endeavor, MAP-21 requires a 20 percent non-Federal match for these grants. The law also adopts measures initially proposed by the Administration to ensure that SSO agencies are truly independent and not funded in a fashion that presents State regulators with a conflict of interest.
With our transit safety commitment entering a new era, I ask you to review your designated SSO agency to determine if they are the appropriate and legal entity to fulfill this role going forward. I also ask you to begin now to make whatever funding arrangements must be made at the State level to be prepared to match Federal grants and adequately fund this important new requirement.
The FTA 's goal is to advance transit safety through a performance-based safety management system approach that maximizes safety benefits while minimizing unnecessary bureaucracy. In 2010, I directed the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety, which includes State representatives, to help guide this initiative. I look forward to our partnership in this effort.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on this important endeavor.