The Community Transportation Safety and Security Accreditation (CTSSA) Program

This is a program designed to promote the safety and security of the customers of community and public transportation systems and also to promote the safety and security of the women and men who deliver these services and provide mobility for the riding public every day. CTAA is accomplishing this goal by working with member agencies, our board of directors, and experts in the field to determine standards for safety and security and by developing a program to assess an organization's achievement in meeting those standards.

Keeping employees, customers, and communities safe and secure is a top priority for all community transportation agencies. There are at least three reasons why this is true:

  • Establishing this priority is clearly consistent with the voluntary guidance and regulatory requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Transit Administration, and individual state departments of transportation.
  • Building transit system safety and security infrastructure historically has proven to be an extremely positive step in reducing agency liability and the cost of insurance.
  • Most importantly, it is a moral responsibility of a transit system and its leadership to do everything it can to protect the lives of people it employs and serves, and to respond effectively to community-wide emergencies as may be required.

CTAA offers the Certified Safety and Security Officer (CSSO) and the Community Transportation Safety and Security Accreditation (CTSSA) programs to provide transit systems with the comprehensive set of tools necessary to meet this critical safety, security, and emergency preparedness responsibility and to recognize individual and agency mission accomplishments.

As a partner to the Federal Transit Administration's Bus Safety and Security Memorandum of Understanding, CTAA has developed the CSSO and CTSSA programs as a two-part process to provide education, support, and recognition to individuals and transit organizations in the critical areas of safety and security.

What Is Accreditation?

For CTAA, accreditation is a process by which community and public transit systems, not individuals, are reviewed to determine whether they meet certain standards of quality. Accredited status is not permanent; it has to be renewed through periodic review on a three-year basis.

Accreditation is both a status and a process. As a status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency, in this instance CTAA. As a process, accreditation reflects the fact that in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, the institution is committed to self-assessment and external review not only to meet standards but also to continuously seek ways in which to enhance the safe and secure transportation services your customers expect and deserve.

Having the CTSSA seal of approval demonstrates your commitment to meeting these standards.

What Is a Standard?

Accreditation standards are statements that define and set expectations about fundamental essentials for quality. In this case the standards are specifically set to determine achievement in the area of safety and security.

Accreditation standards:

  • Provide a framework for more detailed work at agency and individual levels
  • Address operational issues associated with developing safety and security and with maintaining necessary protocols
  • Reflect the consensus of experts in the community and public transportation fields as to the most important ingredients in a comprehensive safety and security system.

Why Is This Accreditation Important?

This accreditation is important for several reasons:

  • It reflects the quality by which your organization conducts its business.
  • It speaks to a sense of public trust, as well as high professional standards.
  • It provides a publicly recognized badge signifying excellence in, and commitment to, the safety and security of your passengers.
  • Accreditation is an extremely positive step in reducing agency liability and the cost of insurance.
  • It provides impartial evaluation on a periodic basis by professional colleagues.
  • Accreditation provides assurance to your passengers and the general public that your transportation system is engaged in continuous quality review and improvement and that it meets the Federal Transit Administration-endorsed standards of their Bus Safety and Security Program.

The greatest value of accreditation lies in the process itself. It encourages self-evaluation and voluntary monitoring of your transit organization to ensure the highest quality in the areas of safety and security.

Steps to Accreditation

Each agency that seeks to be accredited must first have a CSSO (Certified Safety and Security Officer) on staff. This individual will begin the accreditation process by conducting a structured series of interviews and examinations, in the eight areas at the core of the CSSO training program.

The CSSO will then share the results within the organization. If the organization decides to proceed to accreditation, they will submit a summary report (also known as the reviewer accreditation checklist) to CTAA for review.

The Association will then conduct a "desk review" of the completed accreditation checklist. This review will consist of a thorough review of the application, including telephone and e-mail inquiries to clear up any questions and to ascertain the applicant's preparedness for the on-site review.

CTAA and the applicant organization will then arrange for an on-site review, which may take two to three days. The CTAA reviewer will inspect the facilities and vehicles of the applicant organization, interview relevant staff, board members, and other officials, and inspect related files and documents. The reviewer will prepare a written report on the findings of the on-site review and submit that to the applicant agency for review and comment before submission to the CTAA Accreditation Committee.

The CTAA Accreditation Committee will review this report. Assuming all eight areas meet the program's benchmarks, CTAA will then issue the organization a Community Transportation Safety and Security Certificate of Accreditation, valid for three years. Should the organization not meet the benchmarks in 1 or more areas, the CTAA accreditation panel will issue a report identifying any deficiencies and recommending steps to correct them. Once an organization has completed those steps, they may request another on-site inspection to achieve accreditation.

CTSSA accreditation is valid for three years and reaccreditation requires that all steps in the original application be repeated.

What Are the Fees Associated With the Accreditation Process?

The total cost of the accreditation process is $6,000. This can be broken down as follows:

  • There is an initial nonrefundable application fee of $1,500. This fee allows the organization access to both the online and printed versions of the application, consultation and a desk review with the CTAA accreditation team, plus access to the online accreditation community. The desk review is designed to ascertain the applicant's preparedness for an on-site review and will document any steps necessary to prepare for the on-site review.
  • Once the application has been reviewed and accepted, the applicant agency may seek full accreditation at an all-inclusive cost of $4,500. This process includes a two- to three-day on-site inspection of the applicant agency's facilities, vehicles, and records. This also includes entrance and exit interviews with the agency's chief executive officer, the agency's CSSO, and other relevant personnel. Following the on-site inspection, the applicant agency will receive a full report detailing the findings of the inspection.

Who Are the CSSOs and How Are They Qualified?

The CSSO personnel are critical to the success and integrity of this safety and security program. What is essential is that the reviewers are fully qualified and certified through a rigorous process modeled after the existing professional credentials that CTAA has designed for the community transit industry. The potential reviewer must meet the criteria outlined by the CSSO application, attend the two-day CSSO training workshop, and pass all sections of the qualifying examination.

Governance: Who Maintains the Program's Quality and Integrity?

There are three levels of oversight and program management to the Community Transportation Safety and Security Accreditation Program:

  • Day-to-day management and operation of the program is the responsibility of CTAA's Professional Development Services staff, specifically including Len Cahill and Stephanee Smith.
  • Our team of master reviewers carries out resource development and certified safety and security training functions. These are allied professionals with years of transit safety and security experience.
  • Professional standards and quality assurance are reviewed and approved by the CTAA National Certification Council.


All accreditation documents are to be submitted over the signature of the organization's chief executive officer and be accompanied by a resolution or similar document from the governing body of the organization endorsing the submission.

Confidentiality: All documents submitted to the CTAA National Certification Council shall be received, processed, and maintained as confidential.


Len Cahill
Professional Development Services
Telephone: 202.415.9653 or 800.891.0590 x705
Fax: 202.737.9197