Rail Safety:

States' Reaction to Proposed Elimination of Inspection Funding

RCED-87-84FS: Published: Feb 6, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) elimination of support funds under its State Safety Participation Program would affect the number of state railroad safety inspectors.

GAO found that, of the 44 states that responded to its questionnaire: (1) most that received partial funding for state rail safety inspectors through the program believed they would have to decrease their railroad safety inspection activities if FRA eliminated the program; (2) 3 would cancel their inspection programs; (3) 18 had rail safety inspection programs prior to receiving FRA funds; (4) most participated in the program because they needed additional funds for their inspection activities; (5) most would continue to coordinate with FRA on inspection activities; (6) most were in the program because they felt that a coordinated national rail safety inspection program was important; (7) 16 were somewhat dissatisfied with FRA coordination with states to prevent duplication of inspection work, 7 were very dissatisfied, and 13 were somewhat satisfied; and (8) 4 of the program administrators said that their states are considering withdrawing from the program due to the FRA desire to eliminate it. GAO also found that: (1) 12 states obtained funding from railroad assessments, while 16 received funding from general tax revenues; (2) 18 would probably use railroad assessments to replace eliminated federal funds, while 10 would use general taxes; (3) 22 participate in the program because of a need for more precise rail safety standards; and (4) 7 did not participate in the program due to a lack of state funds.

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