Fact Sheet Public Transportation Safety Program
THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SAFETY PROGRAM ACT OF
End of Prohibition on Transit Safety Regulation
The Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009 requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish and enforce minimum Federal safety standards through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for rail transit systems that receive Federal transit assistance and are not already regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration. In so doing, the Act effectively eliminates the statutory prohibition against the imposition of such standards that has been in law since 1965. The Act also provides the Secretary the option to establish a safety program for public transportation bus systems that receive Federal transit assistance.
States May Serve as Federal Enforcement Authority or “Opt Out”
The Secretary would establish a safety certification program whereby a State that chooses to participate would be eligible for Federal transit assistance to carry out a Federally-approved Public Transportation Safety program. Participating States would be required to demonstrate to the Secretary’s satisfaction that the state agency has;
- an adequate number of fully-trained staff to enforce Federal regulations;
- been granted sufficient authority by their Governor and State Legislature to compel compliance by the transit systems they oversee; and
- sufficient financial independence from any transit systems under their purview.
Federal assistance to participating states would cover the salary and benefit costs, as well as the training, certification and travel costs of the state agency in overseeing and enforcing Federal transit safety regulations. The Secretary would establish a schedule of reimbursable costs to assist a State in defraying the costs of its safety program.
States would not be preempted from establishing more stringent safety standards than the Federal standards, if the standards meet certain criteria.
Federal Enforcement Responsibility
In all states where either the state agency has “opted out” of participation or where the Secretary has found the requesting state agency to be inadequate, the Secretary, acting through the FTA, will enforce all Federal safety regulations.
FTA and State agencies participating in Federal enforcement will be authorized to —
- conduct inspections, investigations, audits, examinations, and testing of a public transportation system’s equipment, facilities, rolling stock, operations, and persons engaged in the business of a public transportation system;
- issue reports, subpoenas, and discovery requests; and
- conduct research, development, testing and training.