State Safety Oversight
The PennDOT State Safety Oversight Division serves as the state safety oversight agency (SSOA) responsible for overseeing rail fixed guideway public transportation systems (RFGPTS) not subject to oversight by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The SSOA fulfills the federal mandate to implement a State Safety Oversight program for its covered rail transit systems. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) first published requirements for this program in 49 CFR Part 659, "Rail Fixed Guideway Systems; State Safety Oversight," on December 27, 1995. On April 29, 2005, FTA published a revised rule in the Federal Register to include further clarifications and specifications. On March 16, 2016, FTA issued the 49 CFR Part 674 final rule to replace 49 CFR Part 659. This rule directs eligible States to strengthen their authority to oversee and enforce safety requirements and to prevent and mitigate accidents and incidents on the RFGPTS in their jurisdictions.
These program requirements represent a dramatic increase in Federal expectations for State programs and for the public transportation industry. In recognition of the additional responsibilities these requirements place upon eligible States, 49 CFR Part 674 also establishes the SSO Formula Grant program, offering first-of-its-kind Federal funding for State Safety Oversight activities. Part 674 significantly changed how the Federal government and the States work together to keep RFGPTS safe. For the first time, FTA must certify each State's SSO program, determining whether the program meets Federal requirements of necessary enforcement authority, legal independence, and financial and human resources for overseeing the number, size, and complexity of rail transit systems within their jurisdictions.
In April 2018, Governor Tom Wolf received a letter from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approving and certifying Pennsylvania's State Safety Oversight Program.
The SSOA Program Standards describes the program and defines the respective roles and responsibilities of the SSOA, transit agencies, and the FTA in its implementation. The SSOA Procedures and Standards is reviewed and published annually. It establishes oversight authority and management and requirements for transit agency safety and security programs.
Covered Rail Transit Agencies and SSOA Activities
The systems overseen by the SSOA are Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT), and Cambria County Transportation Authority (CamTran). The image below shows the covered systems and modes.
Click to view image larger.
The SSOA establishes minimum safety standards for all three covered systems in the Commonwealth. In addition to this responsibility, the SSOA is required to oversee compliance and implementation of safety at the transit agencies. The SSOA primarily fulfills this requirement through independent audits of transit agencies; oversight of corrective action plans; engagement in internal transit agencies' safety activities; review and approval of transit agency Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP); and management of event investigations.
Every year, the SSOA publishes the Annual Safety and Security Report, as required by 49 CFR Part §674.13 (a)(7):
"At least once a year, the SSOA reports the status of the safety of each rail fixed guideway public transportation system to the Governor, the FTA, and the board of directors, or equivalent entity, of the rail fixed guideway public transportation system."
2022 Annual Safety and Security Report (PDF)