November 6, 2014
Safety Message from the FTA Administrator
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is working diligently to stand up the National Public Transportation Safety Program under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). We take our commitment to developing an effective regulatory safety oversight program for the transit industry extremely seriously, and we are equally committed to keeping our stakeholders informed every step of the way.
Posted to FTA’s public website is an informative update from FTA’s Associate Administrator for Transit Safety and Oversight, Thomas Littleton, providing an overview of the safety-related initiatives that we will develop and announce in the months ahead—and how these may affect you and our industry.
Let me emphasize some key points to keep in mind as you digest this information.
First, while MAP-21 requires a number of safety-related rulemakings, a great deal of our vital work in safety will not entail rulemaking. It will take the form of policy, program guidance, technical assistance, and training for our colleagues in the industry. In April of this year, for example, we took a significant step by issuing proposed interim provisions for the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program required by MAP-21, which includes, in part, some required coursework in safety management systems (SMS) for State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOA) staff who conduct audits and examinations of public transportation systems.
Second, we remain committed to pursuing a flexible, performance-based SMS approach in order to help a safe industry become even safer, by fostering sound safety policy, more efficient practices for risk management and safety assurance, and a strong safety culture at every transit system, whatever its size or mode of operation. A strong SMS approach is a collaboration among the leadership and employees of a transit agency, and between a transit agency and its many constituencies. (You may wish to refer to our prior Dear Colleague letter on this topic.) Our rulemakings will adhere to a minimalist, strategic approach that consistently reflects the principles of SMS.
Third, we recognize—as we have said in the past—that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suited to the diverse characteristics of public transportation, and we will endeavor to be sensitive to each agency’s need to implement SMS, and other safety measures, in a way that best fits resource and capacity constraints. We understand the need for flexibility among agencies that own or operate public transportation.
Finally, please know that we will pursue an open and transparent process in the years ahead as we set clear, specific safety performance criteria for all modes of public transportation.
I want to assure you that Thomas Littleton and I will continue to keep you informed going forward, through communications like this as well as webinars, trainings, and through other forms of assistance.
Therese W. McMillan