Transportation bill authorizes federal safety oversight of transit systems

Washington – The multi-year transportation funding bill signed into law on July 6 by President Barack Obama will establish minimum federal safety standards on rail and bus transit systems for the first time.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (.pdf file) will require the Federal Transit Administration to establish safety oversight programs to ensure states’ rail and bus transit systems are compliant with federal minimum safety standards, such as emergency reporting and evacuation procedures.

Previously, individual states developed and oversaw their own transit system safety standards and did not need to adopt minimum federal standards.

Light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail and transit bus systems will be affected. The safety standards apply to both transit passengers and workers.

“This is an important win for the safety of tens of millions of Americans who use transit each day and for the well-being of transit workers on the front lines as conductors and track inspectors,” FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said in a Department of Transportation press release.

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