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The purpose of the Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) is to provide a platform for discussion of safety challenges and opportunities impacting public transportation providers in Florida. The quarterly meeting was hosted by Manatee County Area Transit in Bradenton, Florida at the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center, and called to order by Stephen Berry (CUTR). It began with introduction of the FTSON members and guests.
Positive Change – the Evolution of Florida Transit Safety and Operations Networks (FTSON)
Victor Wiley (FDOT) and Rob Gregg (CUTR) gave a brief overview of the Florida Transit Safety Network (FTSN) and the Florida Operations Network (FON), which are both nationally recognized programs. The FTSN and FON have been consolidated to form the Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON). The purpose of the FTSON and the activities of the network will ensure the successful implementation and maturity of the Safety Management System (SMS) framework within Florida’s transit community, melding all aspects of transit agency activity in the management system.
FTSON will provide a forum for discussion of transit operations and safety issues, including improvement opportunities, and a platform for initiatives to further statewide efficiencies and effectiveness. These issues include driver hiring, training and retainage, driver work assignments, labor relations, dispatching, supervisory oversight, scheduling, routing, and customer service. Initial operational focus topics will include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), human resources issues, emergency preparedness, and management. FTSON provides a forum to bridge industry functional networks including FTA’s Transit Asset Management, and a resource to FDOT for the identification of transit safety and operations issues, as well as a mechanism for collaborative stakeholder input for proposed modifications to Rule Chapter 14-90, Florida Administration Code. Urban transit agencies can discuss transit safety and operational issues, and successful methods used to address the issues. The FTSON will maintain a coordinated statewide front to address and adequately prepare for and respond to FTA/MAP-21 transit safety program requirements, and coordinate with other FDOT sponsored transit networks on those topics of shared interest. It will continue to identify transit safety and operational training needs.
Collaboration, Coordination and Interaction with Other FDOT Sponsored Transit Networks
Activities of the FTSON will further the activities and initiatives of other FDOT sponsored transit networks like the Maintenance consortium, the Marketing, and the Planning networks to improve transit safety and operations statewide. The Florida Public Transit Safety and Operations Compliance Support Program has been defined as a method of ensuring compliance with both state and Federal transit safety laws and programs, focusing on systems with demonstrated need, specifically rural transit providers, and complement the Statewide Transit Technical Assistance and Training Program. A clearinghouse or repository will include documents, model policies and practices, templates, or other tools to assist transit agencies.
Peer-to-Peer Transit Safety and Operations Compliance Support Program
Best practices and successful practices will be shared through a Peer-to-Peer Transit Safety and Operations Compliance Support Program of qualified transit agency personnel. They will be available for agency on-site services, and/or general workshop meetings, complementing the Florida Statewide Transit Technical Assistance and Training Program to ensure compliance with all areas defined by FDOT’s State Management Plan. Qualified CUTR project team members who coordinate with FDOT Project Managers to address areas of compliance concern. Rural public transit agencies may be prioritized to address those needs.
P2P experts recommended by FDOT personnel and identified through the expertise demonstrated through network leadership roles will work with agencies. P2P individual’s expertise, relevance, applicability of that expertise to the P2P program needs, social presentation, and geographical distribution will be considered. The FDOT Project Managers will make final selection of peer experts. Compliance support may be supplemented by CUTR project team members qualified to address areas of concern. Activities will be prioritized by the FDOT Project Managers and will reflect a concerted focus on public transit providers operating in rural areas.
Clearinghouse and Repository
The FTSON will function as a clearinghouse for documents established through these programs, as well newly designed and/or developed guidance documents, model policies, and templates that may be utilized by Florida’s transit agencies, regardless of system size or operating environment.
Listservs for operations and for safety/security will serve as platforms of discussion, inquiry, and the sharing of model practices. The CUTR project team will examine the content of the program to identify areas of common issue, model strategies (which may include training curriculum content/focus) that have been employed by Florida’s transit agencies to address various transit safety, and operational related issues. These selections may serve to identify areas of focus for the Network and its committees. Lisa (CUTR) encouraged everyone to join both listservs. If you are not a member of the listservs, she can enroll you on the today.
The training component of the Florida Public Transit Safety and Operations Program will provide input to the Statewide Transit Technical Assistance and Training Program. FTSON members will assist in the identification of transportation training needs and serve as subject matter experts in training course development and delivery on various topics related to transit compliance, safety, and security. Victor (FDOT) shared the objective is helping each other. FTA knows we have great programs in Florida, and ask often about them. Training is the foundation, and Victor’s main focus. Training for compliance is important.
Lisa Staes (CUTR), Director of Transit Safety and Workforce Development Programs, will provide overall direction and guidance to CUTR staff and faculty throughout the scope of this project. She will maintain primary responsibility for the successful completion of each task associated with the scope of services. She will maintain close coordination and communicate with the FDOT Project Manager on a regular basis.
Other members of the team include Rob Gregg (Co-Project Manager and Senior Advisor on Transit Operations), Stephen Berry (CUTR), Roberta Yegidis (CUTR), Jodi Godfrey (CUTR), Mitch Spicer (CUTR), Stephanie Lewis (CUTR), and Molly Buffington (CUTR). Additional individual(s) may support the program upon the approval of the FDOT Program Manager. Subject matter experts (Diana Byrnes – Substance Abuse Program Compliance) and resources from FDOT sponsored programs may be utilized to ensure the most effective delivery of P2P technical assistance activities and training. FDOT Project Managers are Robert Westbrook (Transit Operations Administrator), Elizabeth Stutts (Grant Programs Administrator), and Victor Wiley (Transit Safety Programs Manager).
Let’s Hear from You
The floor was opened for discussion. Paul (LeeTran) shared his enthusiasm that the committees were joined together, stating the agenda shows movement in the right direction. Bill (CUTR) believes the management-training program is good and needs to continue. We need to bring the training up to train the people that will take our places when we retire. Ed (SJCOA) stated the smaller agencies do not have resources that larger agencies have. He truly appreciates the templates, training, policies, and procedures provided. Safety does not operate in a separate world from operations, and he welcomes the combination of the networks.
Yailis (HART) stated this is a great opportunity, as we have many people coming into transit without background or experience. Lenny (JTA) said we all have daily challenges, so we look forward to working with the group. Trish (PSTA) is grateful for solutions provided already. She said our best solutions are when we bring everyone together to solve the problems, and the FTSON is a perfect example. Karen (SCAT) is excited about the repository. Keith (PalmTran) said experiences with the network and CUTR have been invaluable. He is new to PalmTran with little transit experience. The opportunities for networking, resources, and training have been phenomenal, and the connections are invaluable. Someone mentioned the listserv has been tremendous. It has demonstrated that large agencies have some of the same issues as the smaller agencies. Jim (MCAT) commented that no other state has anything like our network. Resources are great for larger agencies. The network allows other agencies to benefit from their best practices, principles, forms, and gear it towards the smaller agency. Ultimately, with everyone sharing and working in unison, it is as if we are one big state agency – all we have to do is adjust the work to fit the agency.
FTSON Committees – Structure and Functions
There are nine FTSON Committees. Each committee has established preliminary goals and objectives, and utilizing survey methodology to gather pertinent information relevant to the objectives. They are:
- Bus Operator and Passenger Safety (Chair Benjamin Pearl, Co-Chair Jafari Bowden)
- Collisions (Chair Colin Mulloy, Co-Chair Tomika Monterville)
- Distracted Driving and Driver Fatigue (Chair Rosemary Bosby, Co-Chair Dave Kelsey)
- Emergency Management (Chair Jim Egbert, Co-Chair Theo Bakomihalis)
- Performance and Compliance Management (Chair Tom Stringer, Co-Chair Karen Roland)
- Rural Transit Agencies (Chair Ed Clark)
- Training (Chair Paul Goyette, Co-Chair Zerry Hogan)
- Workforce Sustainability (Co-Chair Trish Collins, Co-Chair Yailis Feliciano)
- Seniors and Persons With Disabilities Mobility Services – 5310 Grant Program/ADA (Chair Mike Hays)
FTSON Sponsored Training Updates
The results of a 2017 Florida Statewide Transit Training Needs Assessment Survey indicated that classroom instruction, train-the-trainer, and workshops are the preferred method of training. Cross-training agency personnel is recommended to ensure key functions are covered in the event of absences, and to enable growth within the agency.
Newly developed training entitled The Art of Defusing Conflict: De-escalation Techniques for Transit Operators will be introduced at the FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop in June. This course will be available in CBT and instructor-led classroom versions.
The following items are on the training calendar:
- April 28-29, 2017: 2017 Florida Triple Crown Bus Roadeo, Daytona, FL
- May 3-4, 2017: Managing For Performance – Safety, Customer Service, Conflict and Work Ethic: A Guide for Transit Operator Trainers, CUTR
- May 23-24, 2017: Transit Dispatch and Supervisor Training, HART
- June 5-7, 2017: 2017 FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop & Florida Transit Safety and Operations Summit, USF Embassy Suites
- November 6-7, 2017: National RTAP START (Safety Training and Rural Transit) Workshop, SJCOA
Bob (FDOT) and Bill (CUTR) gave an update on the TRIPS program, sharing the good news that contracts are in place. Bob expressed his appreciation to everyone for their patience and requested feedback as the committee focuses on rule development. He spoke about wheelchair/tie down positions, the paratransit cutaway design, and bus fire evacuation strategies. Engineering capabilities of paratransit vehicle manufacturers are subpar compared to the bigger bus companies. The new contract has specific language help reduce bus fires, with improvement on wheelchair securement. A major issue deals with securement based upon the size and balance capabilities of chairs (i.e. scooters, larger chairs.) Bob shared testing results conducted by FDOT, and it appears a bus will burn out in three to five minutes. He wants feedback from the agencies regarding equipment change, best practices for evacuation procedures, and if FDOT should mandate evacuation training. FDOT requests the input of the agencies to formulate an evacuation plan.
ITS Procurement (Rob Gregg and Brian Pessaro, CUTR)
Rob (CUTR) and Brian (CUTR) explained the program is expanding to come up with a procurement package for technology that accompanies vehicles procured through the TRIPS program. Smaller properties are having issues with technology procurement. Rob requested contact info for agency procurement reps. Brian (CUTR) has reached out to the agencies regarding the priorities/technology needs of the property. He anticipates face-to-face meetings later this year.
Update on FDOT Triennial Compliance Review Process
An update was provided on the FDOT Triennial review process. The teams have been established and trained. Serving on the team will be Roberta Yegidis, Stephen Berry, Dean Kirkland-McMillan, Gennaro Saliceto, and Kent Smith. A workbook has been created, and a mock review was conducted at LeeTran. The Triennial review report format has been proposed, and the team is ready to begin the compliance reviews. Liz (FDOT) reminded the network there are three levels of review, which are geared toward the agency’s funding (urban, rural).
Update on FDOT Triennial Compliance Review Process – 5310 Only Agencies
A guidance tool for 5310 only agency transit providers has been developed. Topics include a quick reference guide, templates, maintenance resources, a safety and security review workbook (used by reviewers), Workforce Development programs, and training courses/tools.
Steve (CUTR) provided the Summit topics, which include discussion on the evolution of the Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network, PSTA Accident and Incident Management System, an FTA Safety Research Demonstration Project from Pierce Transit, focus initiatives for 2017-18, and an overview of federal initiatives and directives. Victor (CUTR) also shared his passion for the Summit and encouraged everyone to attend, and to bring GMs and leadership teams along.
The meeting adjourned at 2:15pm. The group then traveled a short distance for a guided tour of the new Manatee County Area Transit facilities located at 2411 Tallevast Road in Sarasota.