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CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Project Background and Objectives, 5 Technical Approach to the Project, 6 Report Organization, 6 7 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Literature Review, 7 Training Programs and Initiatives, 7 Technology Solutions, 9 Incentives and Other Safety Rewards, 11 12 CHAPTER THREE SURVEY RESULTS Survey Findings, 12 Survey Data Summary, 12 Survey Conclusions, 20 21 CHAPTER FOUR CASE EXAMPLES Charlotte Area Transit System (Charlotte, North Carolina), 22 City of Madison Metro Transit (Madison, Wisconsin), 24 Greater Bridgeport Transit (Bridgeport, Connecticut), 28 Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Cleveland, Ohio), 31 Jacksonville Transportation Authority (Jacksonville, Florida), 34 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (Kansas City, Missouri), 38 King County Metro (Seattle, Washington), 43 Lane Transit District (Springfield, Oregon), 46 Solano County TransitâOperated by National Express (Vallejo, California), 50 TriMet (Portland, Oregon), 54 Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, Utah), 59 64 CHAPTER FIVE SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES AND INITIATIVES FROM CASE EXAMPLES Charlotte Area Transit, 64 City of Madison Metro Transit, 64 Greater Bridgeport Transit, 65 Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, 65 Jacksonville Transportation Authority, 66 Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, 66 King County Metro, 67 Lane Transit District, 67 Solano County Transit, 68 TriMet, 68 Utah Transit Authority, 69 Common Threads, 69
71 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS Training, 71 Technology Solutions, 72 Constraints and Challenges, 72 Lessons Learned, 73 Summary, 74 Further Research, 74 75 GLOSSARY 76 ACRONYMS 78 REFERENCES Note: Many of the photographs, figures, and tables in this report have been converted from color to grayscale for printing. The electronic version of the report (posted on the web at www.trb.org) retains the color versions.
SUMMARY SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES AND TRAINING INITIATIVES TO REDUCE BUS ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS AT TRANSIT AGENCIES The purpose of this study is to document successful practices and training initiatives, includ- ing bus operator training and retraining programs, that have been effective in reducing acci- dents and incidents. Recognizing that safety does not occur in a vacuum and that mitigation measures are not strictly confined to the training of bus operators, the study also focuses on other system approaches that have been implemented to address safety hazards. These approaches include various technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and pro- grams and initiatives such as driver incentive programs and close call/near miss reporting. To effectively meet the primary objectives of the study, a literature review was conducted, a survey of selected transit agencies performed, and detailed case examples of 11 public transit agencies were conducted, from among the survey respondents on the basis of their responses to the survey or the authorsâ knowledge of successful safety programs implemented. The survey of select transit agencies was conducted through the use of a 28-question electronic survey instrument sent to 42 different transit agency representatives throughout the United States. The method used for selecting transit agencies ensured that there would be both regional and size variation in systems represented from across the nation, as well as an acceptable survey response rate. Thirty-seven of the transit agencies responded, yield- ing an 88% response rate. Among the agencies that responded to the survey, 92% track contributing factors of incidents. The most prevalent contributing factors to safety-related incidents reported by respondents are human factors. Distractions are also a common contributing factor. The agencies monitor and mitigate safety-related trends by collecting and analyzing transit safety data, reviewing accident reports, performing internal safety reviews, and through close call/near miss and other employee reporting, including the use of comment cards. Safety incidents are mitigated using methods such as expanded and issue-focused new operator training, targeted refresher training, remedial training, technology applications, safety campaigns and promotions, safety bulletins, and safety performance awards. A number of agencies provide training on safety issues identified through datacentric meth- ods, employee input, and other means. Post-incident safety training or remedial training is required in 94% of the agencies that responded to the survey. Five of the responding agencies offer simulator training and consider it to be an effective way of mitigating safety- related issues without the risks associated with errors behind the wheel. The survey respondents also reported the application of various technologies to reduce safety incidents, including vehicle tracking systems, driver monitoring systems (DMSs), security cameras, operator-activated panic buttons, stop announcements, and video data recorders. When asked about the effectiveness of the technology applications in use at their transit agency, 58% of respondents said they were effective. Many of the agencies that use a telemetry-based DMS value the ability to address likely incidents before their occurrence. The ability to monitor and track an operatorâs behavior while driving and then to target a coaching or counseling session with that operator on observed unsafe behaviors was viewed
2 as very important. A few agencies speculated that improved operator driving habits and the reduction of transit incidents were due simply to the operatorsâ awareness of the video record- ing and its ability to track, for example, aggressive driving and hard braking events. Survey respondents generally agreed that accountability at all levels of the transit agency is necessary to establish a comprehensive safety culture among all employees. Another theme that was present throughout the survey responses was the importance of trainingâincluding new operator training, refresher training, and remedial trainingâdescribed as the key to keeping operators informed and up to date on agency policies and on recent incidents, in an effort to combat the factors that contributed to such events. Survey responses were consistent in their view of safety, stating that safety must be addressed holistically and stressing that no one solution will prevent or reduce transit safety incidents or safety risks for transit agencies. The case examples included in this report were selected on the basis of their self-identi- fied and self-defined successes in instituting programs that demonstrated improved safety results, including the reduction of transit collisions and other incidents. Eleven case example sites were selected from among the survey respondents: â¢ Charlotte Area Transit (Charlotte, North Carolina) â¢ City of Madison Metro Transit (Madison, Wisconsin) â¢ Greater Bridgeport Transit (Bridgeport, Connecticut) â¢ Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Cleveland, Ohio) â¢ Jacksonville Transportation Authority (Jacksonville, Florida) â¢ Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (Kansas City, Missouri) â¢ King County Metro (Seattle, Washington) â¢ Lane Transit District (Springfield, Oregon) â¢ Solano County Transit (Vallejo, California) â¢ TriMet (Portland, Oregon) â¢ Utah Transit Authority (Salt Lake City, Utah). The following specific discussion points are reflected in the case example narratives: â¢ Areas of greatest concern, including issues for which initiatives were undertaken; â¢ Training programs and initiatives, including content, delivery methods, and duration; â¢ Technology solutions; â¢ Safety campaigns, incentives, and awards; â¢ Other policies and procedures that support comprehensive safety programs; and â¢ The role of the chief executive officer (CEO)/general manager (GM) in ensuring the success of safety programs. All case example agencies shared certain qualities and characteristics, including an across- the-agency philosophy recognizing the importance of employee participation and input. â¢ All case example agencies have adopted and enforce distracted driving/wireless dis- traction policies and procedures. The majority of the agencies have zero tolerance for these violations. â¢ All case example agencies applied multiple approaches to address areas of safety concern. â¢ All case example agencies work across teams to improve transit safety, and this pro- cess/culture is set and supported by the CEO/GM. â¢ All case example agencies conduct thorough accident and incident investigations and use audio/video recordings in their examination. Each agency has an accident review board or a body with similar function that includes representation from across teams. â¢ All agencies have a structured process for data collection, analysis, and review. â¢ All case example agencies provide regular, comprehensive refresher training for their bus operators. Each agency reported success in its safety improvement programs and identified training as a central element.
3 â¢ All agencies cited the value of using actual onboard video and audio recordings in refresher and remedial training, and in counseling sessions with specific bus operators. â¢ All agencies recognized the value of their employees to their organizations. Each provided bus operators with opportunities for input and engagement with transit agency leadership. â¢ The use of telemetric DMSs by four case example locations and their reported suc- cesses are noteworthy. The agencies discussed the value of these systems for modify- ing driver behavior and improving system safety. The case example agencies cited the actions of inattentive drivers in other vehicles as one of the most significant safety issues in the public transit industry. Distracted pedes- trians and cyclists were also cited as problematic. Although transit agencies have been successful with bus operator training, the application of various technologies, and internal safety promotion programs, they report that awareness education of the public is an ongo- ing challenge. A number of the case example agencies provided summaries of public out- reach and education programs that have been successful for them. The use of telemetry-based DMSs was reported as successful by the agencies that use these systems. However, in the interview with Jacksonville Transportation Authority, rep- resentatives said that these systems are expensive, which may be a limiting factor for small and rural transit providers. A similar comment was made by representatives from Lane Transit District (LTD), who said that because of the propriety nature of these systems, access to information gathered and video recordings could be cost-prohibitive. The literature review identified challenges associated with pedestrian detection sys- tems, such as balancing the cost and accuracy of different types of pedestrian scanners and public resistance to the additional cameras stationed in these areas, which raise concerns related to privacy issues (Burka et al. 2014). A reported challenge with audible retrofit safety packages implemented to reduce pedestrian and bicycle collisions is the high rate of false warnings resulting from global positioning system (GPS) and detector limitations (Valentine et al. 2014). For transit agencies in the literature review and those in the case examples, evaluat- ing the effectiveness of a specific mitigation measure is challenging. Without exception, the agencies report comprehensive and multifocused methods and strategies for managing safety, including the implementation of targeted mitigation measures. Unfortunately, these methods and strategies are often undertaken concurrently or within a time frame that does not allow agencies to establish with certainty that one method or strategy contributed more than another to improved safety. The programs examined and described in the case examples have been successful as a result of multipronged or multifaceted coordinated efforts to address transit safety. None of the representatives interviewed for the case examples identified a single method that led to improved safety in their agencies. Strategies such as increased or modified operator training, technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and safety campaigns and promotions were often implemented together. Thus, it was difficult to judge the success of any one strategy in reducing transit incidents. Lessons learned in reference to technology solutions to improve bus transit safety cover a broad spectrum of best practices. One commonality among all technology-based solu- tions available to improve transit bus safety is the way in which these systems support a more holistic approach to incident investigations. This factor was identified in the literature review and during case example interviews. Consensus exists that incidents are not typi- cally the result of one action or one design but rather a combination of causal or contribut- ing factors. Technology applications and the tools they provide have proved effective in promoting a better understanding of events that have occurred, as well as behaviors that could cause or contribute to future events.
4 Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority addressed the importance of working closely with members of the labor union in implementing new programs, procedures, and technology applications. The agency attributes much of its success using a DMS to the acceptance of the technology by bus operators, which was the result of constant communica- tion with the local Amalgamated Transit Union before, during, and after the implementation of the program. The critical importance of union engagement was also expressed by LTD representatives who participated in the interview process. For transit agencies considering the implementation of safety programs, including technology applications, LTD staff also strongly advised that if an agency is going to institute a program, communication with the union should begin sooner rather than later. They further emphasized the importance of giving the program a sufficient trial period, adopting a âbeing in it for the long runâ mental- ity, avoiding programs that are overly punitive, and consistently delivering a message that reminds employees âwhy weâre doing this and what the costs are if we donât.â LTD repre- sentatives also suggested that the agencyâs success was highly dependent on their human resources director, who meets regularly with union leadership, fostering relationships based on inclusiveness and transparency. Lessons learned in reference to incentive programs and rewards reveal that success depends on using them in conjunction with an existing safety program. As tools to improve transit bus safety, incentives can raise awareness of an agencyâs commitment to safety; although interviewees stressed that this commitment must be established in the safety man- agement plan prior to initiating any type of incentive program. When used in conjunction with a safety management plan, incentive programsâespecially those implemented with management supportâhave been successful in improving the safety of the system. They have also improved morale and employee-employer relationships by increasing the focus on positive behavior. A number of case example interviewees noted that the evolution of the safety manage- ment system (SMS) framework in the public transit industry will probably make it more difficult to evaluate the success of one mitigation strategy over others. System approaches to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of systemic safety failures will become the norm in this environment. Establishing the efficacy of individual strategies will likely require evaluations within controlled environments. Case example participants agreed that the progress toward a mature SMS framework in their agencies and across the country would lend itself to an overall reduction in transit safety risks. The minimal use or recent addition of simulators for bus transit operator training is reflected in the lack of quantitative data available for an analysis to determine their effec- tiveness in improving transit safety. Future longitudinal research, with more data points available for analysis, will likely produce statistically significant results on the effectiveness of simulator training (Reep et al. 2013). The actions of other drivers that result in collisions with transit buses are a critical point that must be addressed. Research could be conducted to evaluate public outreach programs and other strategies designed and implemented to increase the awareness of the public (driv- ers, pedestrians, and cyclists), cautioning them on the dangers of distraction and factors that contribute to collisions with transit buses. The use of telemetry-based DMSs continues to increase, and the tools available to agen- cies that have installed these systems are reported to be highly valuable in increasing overall transit safety through the reduction of safety risks. The availability of data on close calls and near misses, aggressive maneuvering and braking, and seatbelt use (coupled with the highly effective use of videos from these systems) was regarded as central to the success of the case example agencies that used DMSs. An independent assessment of telemetry-based DMSs would be valuable to evaluate the effectiveness of these systems in reducing safety risks and improving driving behavior.
5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION In Bus Operator SafetyâCritical Issues Examination and Model Practices, a study by the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR), bus operator failure to perform or implied failure to react was cited as a contributing factor in many of the transit safety-related events studied (Staes et al. 2014). A survey of U.S. transit systems was conducted as part of the NCTR study. In general, the survey found that safety training is being conducted by transit agencies, even though the causal factor identified for many transit incidents is some variation of âhuman error/not following policy or procedure.â The majority of survey respondents who cited failure to follow agency policies and procedures as a primary causal factor also said that they include safety policies and procedures in their refresher training. Staes et al. (2014) questioned whether the apparent ineffec- tiveness of the training was a function of the quality of the curriculum, the delivery method used, or other factors. The study made a specific recommendation to further examine and document existing bus operator training programs and report on their effectiveness in reducing the frequency and severity of transit bus collisions and other incidents. PROJECT BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES For this synthesis, the definition of safety is adopted from the Transit Safety Management and Performance Measurement: âThe state in which the risk of injury to persons or damage to property is reduced to, and maintained at or below, an acceptable level through a continuing process of hazard identification and risk managementâ (Ahmed 2011). The nationâs public transit systems are operating under an evolving regulatory narrative that has its basis in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act and continues under the Fixing Americaâs Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Of the various and expanded authorities provided to FTA through both pieces of legislation, two have specific relevance to this study: (1) the safety management system (SMS) framework, which has been adopted by and will be enforced by FTA through its safety oversight responsibilities, and (2) the Public Transportation Safety Certification Training Program (PTSCP). Along with the definition of safety used in this report, the institution of the SMS framework is central to the safety cultures examined in this study. With a focus on safety policy, formal hazard identification methods, continuous safety risk assess- ment, effective safety reporting systems, and targeted safety training, SMS provides the necessary organizational structures, accountabilities, policies, and procedures to optimally manage safety. The SMS structure is based on four functional compo- nents for improved organizationwide safety performance: safety policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion. Put simply, the goal of SMS is to ensure that public transit agencies have a strategic decision-making process to proactively identify, prioritize, and control emerging safety risks before those risks become critical system failures. Mature SMS structures and associated activities do not occur in a vacuum, and risk and the associated mitigation measures include myriad strategies; for example, risks associated with transit collisions are not strictly confined to the training of bus operators. SMS establishes that system approaches must be implemented to address safety hazards, including those that result in or can result in transit incidents or other systemic safety failures. The transit industry has undertaken a number of strategies to address system risks; for example, various technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and other programs and initiatives, such as operator incentive programs and close call/near miss reporting. These strategies are reflected in the case examples and other elements of this report. The PTSCP is mandatory for state safety oversight agencies (SSOAs) but voluntary for public transit bus systems. Although this report is targeted specifically to bus transit systems, the technical competencies included in the PTSCP are reflected in many of the training programs and associated content used by the case example sites, in the literature review, and in the survey responses. The FAST Act (the successor to MAP-21) was passed in December 2015 and further strengthens FTAâs oversight of public transit safety. The act directs the development and adoption of transit safety standards, including those related to training and
6 employee certification programs, and those designed to address incidents occurring on transit systems, such as bus operator assaults and collisions. Recognizing the proactive nature of many of the nationâs transit agencies, including the case example agencies selected for this study, any locally adopted or observed standards related to training, collision avoidance, or the reduction of bus operator assaults that were discussed during the interviews or subsequent communication are identified in this report. The primary objective of this synthesis is to document public transit agency bus operator training programs and other strategies that have been successful in reducing accidents and incidents, resulting in safer transit systems for the communi- ties they serve. This study reports on the current climate of transit safety-related training, how training is offered, how it is received, and its frequency and duration. Technology applications and other internal operational and personnel related poli- cies and procedures are also examined. The synthesis shows, through the advanced safety programs demonstrated by case example agencies, how transit agencies are progressing in the adoption and maturation of SMSs within their organizations. TECHNICAL APPROACH TO THE PROJECT This synthesis explores the strategies instituted to reduce transit incidents, including training programs, technology applica- tions, incentive programs, and others. A literature review, survey of 42 selected transit agencies, and 11 detailed case examples were conducted to report on the state-of-the-practice. In an effort to prepare other transit agencies that may be considering instituting any of the strategies described, the report presents lessons learned and other guidance provided by case example agencies on overcoming barriers and difficulties. REPORT ORGANIZATION Chapter two presents a summary of the literature review, designed and focused on the elements of safety culture, the fre- quency and duration of new and refresher bus operator training, the use of remedial training, various technology applications that are being used to reduce safety risks in the system, and infrastructure modifications and other strategies that have been implemented to improve transit safety, specifically to reduce transit incidents. Chapter three summarizes the results of a survey that was submitted to 42 public transit agencies and completed by 37 of those agencies (an 88% response rate). Chapter four provides a narrative of the information gathered from 11 case example agencies that were selected from the pool of survey respondents. Chapter five provides a summary of the successful practices identified in the literature review and through the case studies. These practices include training programs and initiatives that have been undertaken in an effort to reduce transit incidents, such as new bus operator training, annual refresher training, remedial and post-accident training, and the use of transit simula- tors. In addition, an examination of the ways in which technology solutions are being implemented to reduce transit incidents is included. Applications and programs discussed in this section include pedestrian and audible warning devices that are used to reduce collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as camera-based systems, intersection modifications, bus stop and pull-out bay improvements, and rear lighting configurations that have been implemented to reduce transit collisions with other vehicles. Agency-designed and -deployed incentive and safety award programs that have been implemented to improve bus safety are also discussed in this chapter. Chapter six summarizes the major findings from the synthesis project and identifies the primary issues, constraints, and challenges identified by survey respondents and case example interviewees. Successes achieved through various safety- related applications and programs are described, along with lessons learned. The chapter concludes with comments and sug- gestions for further research.