I am writing to share important information about the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) most recent action to advance our ongoing efforts to strengthen transit safety. On August 14, 2015, the FTA published its Public Transportation Safety Program’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) which would create the overall framework for the FTA to monitor, oversee, and enforce safety in the public transit industry.
With transit ridership at its highest levels in generations, and our Nation’s transit agencies facing increased pressure to meet the demand for service, we must continue to ensure that safety remains the top priority. This rulemaking is a major step forward in establishing FTA’s safety regulatory framework, as all future safety-related rules, regulations, and guidance will be informed by the Public Transportation Safety Program.
The proposed rule would formally establish the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the foundation of FTA’s new safety oversight authority. The SMS is a top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risks and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk mitigation. It focuses on organization-wide safety policy and accountability, proactive hazard identification, and risk informed decision-making.
The proposed rule would also set procedures for the FTA to exercise its authority to conduct inspections, audits, examinations, investigations, and testing of equipment, facilities, rolling stock, and the operations of a public transit system. In addition, it would set procedures for the FTA to take appropriate enforcement actions, including directing the use or withholding of Federal funds and issuing directives and advisories. The proposed rule also would establish the administrative process for notification of FTA’s actions, whether they pertain to one public transportation provider, or the entire transit industry.
Furthermore, the proposed rule commits the FTA to develop and implement a National Public Transportation Safety Plan (NPTSP), which would include safety performance criteria for all modes of public transportation, minimum safety performance standards for transit vehicles used in revenue operations, the definition of “state of good repair,” information about the Safety Certification Training Program, and other content determined by FTA. The FTA expects to publish its first proposed NPTSP in a separate Federal Register Notice later this year for public review and comment.
The public comment period for the proposed Public Transportation Safety Program extends through October 13, 2015, and I encourage you to tell us what you think. Your comments are critically important in the development of this rule and how it may impact the transit industry. Throughout every step in the development of our safety regulatory framework, I pledge to keep you informed. Together, we can keep transit workers and passengers safe. If you have any questions or concerns on FTA’s safety oversight responsibilities, please feel free to contact Thomas Littleton, Associate Administrator for Transit Safety and Oversight, at (202) 366-9239 or via email at Thomas.Littleton@dot.gov.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of public transportation in the United States.
Therese W. McMillan