National Academies Press: OpenBook

Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies (2021)

Chapter:Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26449.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26449.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26449.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26449.
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3   Introduction Background Required by FTA and FRA of transit agencies that receive federal funding, the safety manage- ment system (SMS) approach is one that is collaborative, comprehensive, top-down, and data driven. It is about managing risk and assuring effectiveness of safety risk mitigations. At its core, SMS is about bringing management and employees together to control safety risk better: detecting and correcting safety concerns earlier, sharing and analyzing safety data more effec- tively, and measuring safety performance more carefully. Risk management is the central element of SMS. Identifying, assessing, analyzing, mitigating, communicating, and documenting are all steps in an effective risk management program. This TCRP project was about one of these steps: safety risk assessment (SRA). One particular assessment methodology, Military Standard 882 (MIL-STD-882), stands out as the go-to, traditional approach. It is the approach used in examples in FTA and FRA guidance. The methodology is one that focuses on risk probability (or likelihood) and severity (or consequences). Matrices are used to give the user ranges of high, medium, and low risk. These outcomes guide the agency with decisions about mitigation. Benefits and challenges of MIL-STD-882 are discussed within this report. Other SRA methodologies, discovered during the literature review or through survey responses and interviews, are presented and described in this report as well. Some of these methodologies are seen as new and/or innovative. It is important for transit agencies to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different methodologies so staff can make decisions about assessing safety risk for the agency. Objective and Scope The objective of TCRP Synthesis Project J-07/Topic SA-51 was to identify SRA methodolo- gies and/or approaches that U.S. transit (bus and/or rail) systems are using and to explore the practices, benefits, and challenges of these methodologies. To accomplish this objective, the project included a review of literature to document the many SRA methodologies (including interviews with people working in risk outside of public transportation), a survey of transit agencies, and case example interviews with five agencies to understand more about their survey responses. The goal was to help the transit industry better understand current and new innova- tive state-of-the-practice SRA methodologies. Federal Regulations The adoption of an SMS approach as required by FTA under 49 CFR 673 means that certain states and operators of public transportation systems receiving federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 are required to develop and implement a Public Transportation Agency C H A P T E R 1

4 Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies Safety Plan (PTASP). A PTASP must document a transit agency’s programs, processes, and policies for safety hazard identification and for safety risk assessment and mitigation. Rail transit agencies in the FTA State Safety Oversight (SSO) program must address addi- tional safety requirements based on FTA’s SSO regulation, 49 CFR Part 674. The SSO program, administered by eligible states with rail transit systems in their jurisdiction, is a comprehensive oversight program in which SSO agency staff conduct inspections, investigate safety events, and approve and oversee corrective action plans. SSO agencies must also review and approve PTASPs and may impose additional requirements. FTA provides funding and technical assis- tance to states to help them comply with SSO program requirements (FTA, 2019b). FTA also audits states to assess their compliance with 49 CFR Part 674 requirements. The rail mode in this document refers to a public transit rail system. Definitions can be found on the National Transit Database website (FTA, 2020). 49 U.S.C. § 20103(a) establishes that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Rail- road Administration (FRA) has authority over every aspect of railroad safety. The definition of what constitutes a railroad and the general railroad system of transportation is defined in Appendix A to 49 CFR Part 209. By definition, commuter rail and inter-city passenger rail services operate over the general railroad system of transportation, as do operations classified as hybrid rail, as defined in the National Transit Database. 49 U.S.C. § 20102(2)(B) states that the definition of a railroad “does not include rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not connected to the general railroad system of transportation.” The latter definition encompasses most transit systems classified as light rail or heavy rail by the National Transit Database. FRA, in 49 CFR 270, requires agencies operating passenger rail service to develop a Rail System Safety Program Plan (Rail SSPP) to be implemented within three years of FRA approval. The deadline for the Rail SSPP submittal was March 2021. Details about safety hazard identifi- cation and safety risk assessment and mitigation, as well as change management, configuration management, documentation, communication, and safety certification, must be included in these plans. Each of these federally mandated programs was to be developed by the agencies based on the SMS foundational approach. In 2000, FTA and FRA issued a joint statement concerning shared use of the tracks of the general railroad system by conventional railroads and light rail transit systems. With the policy, FRA could issue waivers to allow rail transit agencies to operate over track or connections to the general railroad system, while still ensuring that the SSO agency maintained responsibility for safety oversight for the rail transit agency. The characteristic of a rail transit mode is a decisive factor determining the context of federal regulatory oversight. Rail transit services operating over the “general railroad system of trans- portation,” as defined in Appendix A to 49 CFR Part 209, are regulated by FRA. However, as specified in the joint statement, FRA may use its waiver process to direct a rail transit agency that operates over the general railroad system to remain in FTA’s SSO program. As a condition of the waiver, FRA also likely requires temporal separation between rail transit operations and FRA-regulated freight or commuter rail service. All FRA regulations apply unless the agency specifically requests a waiver from a regulation. Technical Approach to the Project The study was conducted in three main phases. Literature Review First, a review of relevant literature was conducted to identify previous research on transit SRA methodologies. As part of this literature review, the authors also identified U.S. and international

Introduction 5   transit agencies that use innovative state-of-the-practice methodologies for developing a robust and consistent SRA. Finally, the authors documented approaches to assess safety risk in industries outside of public transportation. To help identify agencies and industries that may be practicing innovative SRA approaches, the authors met with experts for ideas and contact information. The literature review is in Chapter 2. Survey of North American Transit Agencies Second, a list was developed of North American transit agencies believed to be using inno- vative state-of-the-practice methodologies for the SRA. Agencies on this list were recruited to participate in an online survey about their use of these methodologies. These agencies made up the targeted survey recruitment since the link was specific to the email recipient. A second non-targeted survey was developed for any person to participate; it was forwarded by panel members, associations, committee chairs, and organizations to transit agency contacts. Forty- three transit agencies completed the survey. Appendix A: Survey Instruments includes the complete targeted and non-targeted questionnaires. Appendix B: Surveyed Agencies and Key Characteristics provides the full list of surveyed transit agencies and their key characteristics; Figure 1 provides a map of the agencies that participated in the survey. Figure 1. Map of transit agencies that responded to the survey.

6 Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies A brief description of the survey is provided, including sections and important conditional logic, in Chapter 3. Case Examples Chapter 4 contains five case examples of transit agencies that were selected on the basis of their responses to the survey. Those agencies using innovative SRA methodologies were prioritized in the selection of case examples. The synthesis team contacted selected case example agencies and arranged interviews that were conducted by web conference. Some agencies also shared internal documentation related to their SRA methodologies. Meetings with transit agency staff are not directly attributed to specific individuals; the meetings are attributed to the transit agency and cited as such. Report Organization This report includes three main chapters and a conclusion. 1. Literature review to document typical SRA methodologies within and outside of transit and transportation. 2. Survey of U.S. and international transit agencies operating rail and/or bus systems. 3. Case examples to better understand practices, benefits, challenges, and costs of SRA methodologies.

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Risk management is the central element of the safety management system (SMS). Identifying, assessing, analyzing, mitigating, communicating, and documenting are all steps in an effective risk management program.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 157: Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies is designed to help the transit industry better understand current and new innovative state-of-the-practice methodologies in safety risk assessment (SRA), which is an important part of the system.

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