U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff visited Miami-Dade County officials to highlight a legislative victory that will ensure that transit passengers in the United States who board a light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail or transit bus will for the first time travel on a system governed by robust federal safety oversight. While in Miami, Secretary LaHood was joined by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to announce $10 million in federal funding to modernize transit buses serving thousands of riders in Miami-Dade County.
"President Obama has called for an America built to last that is based on putting safety first across our nation's transportation systems," said Secretary LaHood. "Public transit is one of the safest ways to travel and our new federal safety oversight authority will help to ensure it remains that way."
The new safety regulatory authority comes from MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), the new two-year transportation authorization signed into law by President Obama on July 6. The law enables the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to establish new safety standards for the nation's rail and bus systems and to strengthen state safety oversight organizations that currently regulate local transit. Since 1964, FTA has been prohibited by law from implementing and enforcing basic safety standards for public rail and bus transit systems. The new law is a culmination of efforts by the FTA and DOT that began in December 2009, when Secretary LaHood formally transmitted to Congress a legislative proposal to establish and enforce minimum federal safety standards for rail transit systems.
"We are closing a loophole in how transit safety oversight is regulated and enforced that is long overdue," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. "This is great news for Miami-Dade transit riders, who will be able to confidently board Metrobus or Metromover, and know that both meet common-sense federal safety standards."
Secretary LaHood and Administrator Rogoff visited the soon-to-open Miami Intermodal Center at Miami International Airport to discuss the new safety authority and announce a $10 million grant for Miami-Dade County. The funding will be used to replace aging Metrobus diesel vehicles with new hybrid-electric buses that will reduce fuel costs, lower emissions, and provide a more comfortable, reliable ride in one of the most populated counties in the Southeastern United States. Altogether, Florida is receiving $50 million for 14 projects to upgrade and repair transit statewide.
The projects are among 255 projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico selected to receive a share of $787 million in funding through FTA's FY2012 State of Good Repair and Bus Livability programs. A map of this year's projects, along with a searchable table, can be found here: http://www.fta.dot.gov/about/12322_14741.html.