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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

FTA Announces Certification of the State Safety Oversight Programs for California and Oklahoma Ahead of Important Deadline

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

States must receive FTA certification by April 15, 2019 or new federal transit funds cannot be awarded


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced that California and Oklahoma have obtained federal certification of their rail transit State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs in advance of an important safety deadline.

Federal law requires states with rail transit systems to obtain FTA certification of their SSO Programs by April 15, 2019. By federal law, the deadline cannot be waived or extended. 

"FTA is pleased that California and Oklahoma have developed safety oversight programs that meet federal certification requirements and will strengthen rail transit safety," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams. "With certification, transit agencies in California and Oklahoma can continue to receive federal funding."

The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for providing safety oversight of the following rail transit agencies:

  • San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District heavy rail, light rail and automated guideway systems;
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency light rail, cable car and streetcar systems;  
  • Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail system;
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail system
  • San Diego Metropolitan Transportation System light rail system;
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority light rail and heavy rail systems; and
  • North County Transit District light rail (trolley) system.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for providing safety oversight of the Oklahoma City streetcar system.

By April 15, 2019, 30 states must obtain certification of 31 SSO Programs. With today’s announcement, 27 states have now achieved SSO Program certification.  A certification status table by state is available online.  

If a state fails to meet the deadline, FTA is prohibited by law from awarding any new federal transit funds to transit agencies within the state until certification is achieved.  

To achieve FTA certification, an SSO Program must meet several federal statutory requirements, including establishing an SSO agency that is financially and legally independent from the rail transit agencies it oversees. In addition, a state must ensure that its SSO agency adopts and enforces relevant federal and state safety laws, has investigatory authority, and has appropriate financial and human resources for the number, size and complexity of the rail transit systems within the state’s jurisdiction.  Furthermore, SSO agency personnel responsible for performing safety oversight activities must be appropriately trained.


Oklahoma City streetcar