The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that recommends the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) strengthen its safety oversight by improving guidance the agency provided to states.
Specifically, GAO suggests the FTA create a plan for developing risk-based inspection guidance for state safety agencies as well as develop and communicate a method for how FTA will monitor whether state safety agencies' enforcement practices are effective.
The FTA’s approach to rail transit safety oversight largely relies on state safety agencies to monitor and enforce rail transit safety, as established by federal statute. Key characteristics of the program includes safety regulations, inspections and other oversight activities, and enforcement procedures to ensure that safety needs are addressed.
GAO reports that FTA has not provided all the necessary guidance and support to states' safety agencies to ensure they develop appropriate and effective rail transit safety inspection programs. GAO notes that in particular, FTA has not provided states with guidance on how to develop and implement risk-based inspection programs. Though FTA has said that it will develop such guidance, it does not have a plan or timeline to do so.
Federal law requires states with rail transit systems in the engineering or construction phase of development or in operation to obtain FTA certification of their State Safety Oversight (SSO) Programs by April 15, 2019. Those that do not meet the deadline, which cannot be extended, will not be able to receive federal funds. To date, eight of the 30 states required to obtain SSO certification have done so.
Source: RT&S online