Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation

Commonwealth's Role in SSO

The General Assembly amended Section 33.1-391.5.16 of the Code of Virginia, designating DRPT as the State Oversight Agency responsible for rail transit safety oversight in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  DRPT oversees safety for the following rail transit systems: the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Metrorail and the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Tide Light Rail.

The WMATA Metrorail system operates in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  The two States and District could have chosen three different oversight agencies for the RTA.  In 1997, this separate oversight idea was not considered further and a partnership was established between the three jurisdictions forming a single oversight entity: the Tri State Oversight Committee (TOC).  This committee consists of the following jurisdictional agencies: the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and DRPTThe TOC consists of executive level officials, who are typically the state secretaries of transportation, and staff members who conduct the day-to-day technical activities of safety oversight.  Each agency designates two staff members to serve, as well as alternate members to fill in as needed.  While all jurisdictions of the TOC have equal authority, a Chair is appointed who serves as a point of contact for outside parties.  The Chair rotates every two years between jurisdictions.  Currently as of 2014, DDOT holds the Chair and DRPT holds the Vice Chair.  The TOC also retains specialized technical skills from an experienced on-call consultant.

The HRT Tide Light Rail operates 7.4 miles of track with 11 stations going from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center through downtown to Newtown Road within Norfolk, Virginia.  DRPT is the state agency designated to oversee this system’s safety.  DRPT began its oversight of the HRT’s Tide in 2008 while the system was still under construction.  DRPT also retains specialized technical skills from an experienced on-call consultant.

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