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12 CHAPTER THREE SURVEY RESULTS SURVEY FINDINGS A survey of select transit agencies was conducted to obtain their perspective and experiences regarding successful practices and training initiatives aimed at reducing bus accidents and incidents. The 28-question survey (Appendix A) was sent to 42 transit agencies throughout the United States. The agencies were chosen on the basis of previous recognition of their success- ful training programs, as well as known technology applications in their systems aimed at reducing transit collisions. Other factors in choosing participants for the survey were geographic and size distribution, previous interest in the topic of transit collision reduction, and known reliable contacts within the agencies. This method ensured that there would be regional and size variation in the systems represented from across the nation, as well as an acceptable survey response rate. Thirty-seven of the transit agencies responded, yielding an 88% response rate. The survey was divided into the following sections: A. System Characteristics B. Accident Review and Risk Assessment C. Bus Operator Training D. Use of Technologies E. Other Agency Policies F. Model Practices. SURVEY DATA SUMMARY A summary of survey responses by section is presented here. System Characteristics This first section requested respondents to provide contact information, as well as general system characteristics, such as the number of operators by mode and full- or part-time status, and the number of vehicles in the fleet by size of vehicle. The survey participants included transit agencies in 23 states. California â¢ AlamedaâContra Costa Transit District â¢ Los Angeles Metro â¢ San Diego Metropolitan Transit System â¢ Solano County Transit Connecticut â¢ Greater Bridgeport Transit â¢ Norwalk Transit District District of Columbia â¢ Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Florida
13 â¢ Jacksonville Transportation Authority â¢ LYNX â¢ Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works Georgia â¢ Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Iowa â¢ CY Ride â¢ Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency Indiana â¢ IndyGo Missouri â¢ City Utilities of Springfield â¢ Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Montana â¢ Skyline North Carolina â¢ Charlotte Area Transit â¢ Go Triangle New Jersey â¢ New Jersey Transit New York â¢ Capital District Transportation Authority â¢ Metropolitan Transportation Authority Ohio â¢ Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority â¢ Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Oregon â¢ Lane Transit District â¢ Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon Pennsylvania â¢ Port Authority of Allegheny County South Carolina â¢ The COMET
14 South Dakota â¢ River Cities Public Transit Tennessee â¢ Memphis Area Transit Authority Texas â¢ Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The-T) â¢ Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County Utah â¢ Utah Transit Authority Washington â¢ Community Transit â¢ King County Metro West Virginia â¢ Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority Wisconsin â¢ City of Madison Metro Transit The survey respondents also represent a wide range of agency sizes, from three full-time bus operators in Montana to 11,500 full-time bus operators in New York City. Bus fleet sizes also vary, from fewer than 20 buses in operation to more than 5,700. Size classification of the case example agencies was determined using unlinked passenger trips (UPTs) from the National Transit Database 2014 data, where small agencies were defined as agencies that provided fewer than 10 million UPTs, medium agencies as those that provided between 10 million and 20 million UPTs, and large agencies as those that provided more than 20 million UPTs. Accident Review and Risk Assessment The accident review and risk assessment section of the survey inquired about the presence, makeup, and roles of the transit agenciesâ accident review boards (or bodies with a similar function). This section of the survey also asked about the agenciesâ incident investigation techniques and processes; the determination of causal or contributing factors to safety incidents; how the agencies identify, track, and mitigate safety-related issues; and whether the agencies find those mitigation techniques to be successful, either anecdotally or supported by data trends. Of the 37 transit agency survey respondents, 87% have an accident review board or use a similar process. The accident review boards vary from one person to eight people, and typically include a mix of operators, union representatives, manage- ment, and supervisors. The vast majority of responding agencies, 94%, task their accident review boards with preventability determinations. In some agencies the accident review board has additional responsibilities, such as reviewing and updating the agencyâs system safety program plan (SSPP), tracking and trending safety data, identifying areas of risk, and assigning employees to remedial training, as shown in Figure 1. Most agencies (92% of survey respondents) indicated that their agency examines and tracks causal or contributing factors in safety event investigations to determine preventability. Human error is the most prevalent contributing factor reported by survey respondents (78%), followed closely by distractions (73%), as shown in Figure 2. Also notable, not one respond- ing agency found substance abuse/misuse to be a contributing factor in its safety-related incidents. Some of the responses
15 reported in the âOtherâ category include misjudging distance; unsafe acts or behaviors; distracted motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists; mirror adjustments; and bus operator inexperience or complacency. FIGURE 1 Roles of the Accident Review Board. FIGURE 2 Most prevalent causal factors of preventable safety incidents. FIGURE 3 How safety-related issues are identified. Transit agencies identified safety-related issues in several ways, with the most common responses indicating that tracking data trends and reviewing accident reports are the preferred methods, as shown in Figure 3. The majority of survey respon- dents (83%) indicated that they use a database or electronic reporting system to track safety incidents.
16 Bus Operator Training Once the safety-related issues are identified, the transit agencies use combinations of several methods to mitigate those issues. Because these agencies were chosen to participate in the survey at least partially owing to their known successful training initiatives and technology applications, it is no surprise that mitigation methods related to training have a high indication of use among the respondents, as shown in Figure 4. Refresher training was cited as the most successful mitigation method used to reduce prevalent safety issues in the transit agencies, with 97% of agencies reporting it as successful. Performance safety awards, while identified as a successful method, were identified by the fewest respondents (54%). FIGURE 4 Methods used to mitigate identified safety-related issues and success rates. FIGURE 5 Safety subjects covered in operator refresher training. Figure 5 illustrates the responses received related to the safety-related subjects covered in operator refresher training. Respondents were also given the opportunity to provide comments on this topic. The subjects included in refresher safety training vary by agency, although over 90% indicate that they cover safety policies and procedures and defensive driving. Security is the least reported topic that agencies cover in their operator refresher training. Some of the topics and approaches included in the âOtherâ category address pedestrian awareness, common unsafe behavior targets, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, new equipment review, railroad crossing safety, and safety roundtable sessions that address myriad topics. Additionally, 61% of the agencies indicated that new training opportunities have been offered specifically targeting
17 the reduction of incidents prevalent in their particular system. The agencies that use simulators commented that simulator training is primarily used to target areas of risk common to their agencies on the basis of safety trends. Telemetric systems and bus operator reporting software were identified as valuable tools for addressing not only agency-specific incidents but also operator-specific incidents or near-incidents. Agencies indicated that this technology provides opportunities to counsel bus operators with the ultimate goal of adjusting their driving techniques and behaviors before an incident occurs. Survey respondents found this proactive approach to be effective and successful. Pedestrian awareness was the most prevalent new targeted safety-related training reported by respondents. Transit agencies offer refresher training anywhere from monthly to once every 3 years; however, annual refresher train- ing is the most commonly reported frequency among the 37 transit agencies that responded to the survey (36%), as shown in Figure 6. The âOtherâ category includes agencies that reported the frequency of their refresher training to be monthly, semi- annually, periodically as needed, or less than annually. The delivery method for training varies among transit agencies. Onsite, instructor-led (classroom) safety training is the most common refresher training delivery method reported, with 87% of the agencies indicating an average of 2.7 onsite safety refresher trainings per year. Figure 7 shows the share of agencies that include each type of refresher training delivery method. Instructor-led annual refresher training is closely followed by behind-the-wheel training, which is required by 77% of agen- cies. Also notable, 16% of transit agencies indicated that they use a simulator in their annual refresher safety training. The average number of times per year a bus operator receives each type of refresher training is shown in Figure 8. Of the transit agencies that use a simulator in their refresher training, the average operator will use the simulator 1.2 times a year. Of the agencies that provide online refresher training, the average operator completes 1.7 annual online refresher trainings. FIGURE 6 Frequency of bus operator refresher training. FIGURE 7 Share of agencies that offer refresher training by delivery method.
18 Figure 8 Average number of times operator receives each type of refresher training. Use of Technologies The number of safety-enhancing technologies used by transit agencies varies from 2 to 12 of the 13 options listed in this survey question. Of the listed technologies, all responding agencies indicated the use of a vehicle tracking system, whereas only 5.6% indicated the use of collision-avoidance systems. Figure 9 displays the share of agencies that report the use of each safety technology. FIGURE 9 Share of technology use by type. The technology safety improvements have resulted in documented success in 58% of the 36 agencies. Of all the listed safety-enhancing technology applications, the majority of respondents (58%) indicated that video and operator monitoring programs have been the most successful; some respondents cited onboard video as the reason for a reduction in transit inci- dents. Figure 10 shows the breakdown of successful technology applications among the transit agency respondents. Other Agency Policies Some of the other agency policies covered in the survey include reporting requirements for outside employment and over- the-counter medication use, distracted driving policies, and operator hours-of-service policies. Figure 11 shows the share of agencies with each of these policies. The majority (71%) require their bus operators to report outside employment. Seven out of 10 agencies require their operators to report the use of over-the-counter medications. The majority of respondents (92%) indicated that their agencies have a distracted driving policy for bus operators. Most of the responding agencies (92%) follow a standard, rule, policy, or regulation related to operator hours of service.
19 FIGURE 10 Documented success of technology applications. FIGURE 11 Other agency policies. Model Practices The key trends among the agencies that reported model practices were regular refresher training and organizationwide accountability. Although some agencies cited annual training as the key to reducing safety incidents, several agencies rec- ommended requiring bus operators to participate in quarterly safety training meetings. The respondents also said that it is important that training materials are updated regularly for correctness and to address any new trends that have been identified within the agency. Another common theme was the importance of collaboration, especially between the operations and safety offices. As mentioned previously, FTA has adopted the safety management system (SMS) framework as the managing principle for tran- sit safety. SMS emphasizes the need for an accountable executive to ensure a consistent safety culture throughout the agency. The safety culture of the agency depends on support from everyone, from the general manager to operations, maintenance, administration, and safety. Respondents noted that agencies with labor unions must ensure that union members are at the table and that safety is an area of focus in collective bargaining agreements. The theme of accountability was echoed as a necessary element at all levels of the transit agency, from management to bus operators. One of the central pillars of the SMS is the ability not only to evaluate existing trends and react to those trends but also to identify areas of risk for which events have not yet occurred. This is where the telemetry-based DMSs demonstrate their usefulness and success, as reported by survey respondents. Respondents highly valued the ability to monitor and track an operatorâs driving behavior and to target coaching or counseling sessions with that operator on observed unsafe behaviors. A few agencies speculated that the operatorsâ cognizance of video recording and ability to track aggressive driving and hard braking events by itself improved driving habits and reduced transit incidents.
20 SURVEY CONCLUSIONS The survey responses show how various-sized transit agencies throughout the United States have improved their safety cultures. Nearly nine of every 10 agencies have accident review boards or similar committees, of which the most common role reported is preventability determinations. Some accident review boards also direct remedial training, handle discipline, monitor trending data, identify areas of risk, or update their agencyâs SSPP. Contributing factors of incidents are tracked in 92% of the agencies that responded to the survey. The most prevalent contributing factors are human-related factors, such as not following agency policies and procedures and inadequate or infrequent training. Distractions are another significant factor in transit safety incidents. The agencies monitor and mitigate safety-related trends by collecting and analyzing transit safety data, reviewing accident reports, performing internal safety reviews, and using close call/near miss or other employee reporting, including comment cards. Eight of 10 transit agencies use a database or electronic reporting system to track safety-related incidents. 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 perfor- mance awards. All types of training are generally reported as most effective, followed by safety campaigns/promotions and technology applications. Safety bulletins and safety performance awards were both rated as marginally successful, with fewer than 60% of survey respondents identifying these methods as effective. All transit agencies offer new bus operator and refresher training. Refresher training is most commonly offered on an annual basis, and 61% of respondents said their agency tailors new training to mitigate prevalent safety incidents. Additional refresher training generally covers safety policies and procedures, defensive driving, distracted driving, and customer rela- tions. Many agencies also offer topics such as wheelchair securement, fatigue and wellness, emergency management, and security. A number of agencies provide training on safety issues identified through datacentric methods, employee input, or other means. Post-incident safety training or remedial training is required in 94% of the agencies that responded to the survey. The delivery methods for training vary, with onsite, instructor-led classroom training the most common, followed by behind-the-wheel training. Five of the 37 respondent 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. However, some employees have motion sickness sensitivities while in the simulator, so time on the simulator must be minimized for them. The survey respondents reported the application of various technologies to reduce safety incidents in the agency. Every transit agency indicated the use of vehicle tracking systems. The other most common technologies in use are security cam- eras, operator-activated panic buttons, stop announcements, and video recorders. When asked about the effectiveness of the technology applications in use at their transit agency, 58% of the respondents said they were effective. Some policy-related responses indicated that 71% of respondent agencies require their bus operators to report outside employment, 69% require operators to report the use of over-the-counter medications, 92% have a distracted driving policy, and 92% follow a standard, policy, rule, or regulation related to bus operator hours of service. Responses in the model practices section of the survey indicated that accountability at all levels of the organization is necessary to establish a comprehensive safety culture among employees. Another theme that was present throughout the survey responses was the importance of training, including new operator training, refresher training, and remedial training. Training is key to keeping operators informed and up to date on all policies and prevalent incidents in an effort to combat the contributing factors to collisions and other incidents. Telemetric systems were also considered as an effective tool in the survey responses, indicating their usefulness in targeting the most risky bus operators and enabling agencies to focus training on the areas that are most challenging to their bus operators. The survey responses suggest that safety must be addressed in a multifaceted, holistic manner and that there is not one particular solution that will prevent or reduce transit safety incidents or reduce safety risks for transit agencies.