The purpose of the FTSN is to provide a platform for discussion of safety challenges and opportunities impacting public transportation providers in Florida. The quarterly meeting was held in Tampa, Florida at the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North and was called to order by Lisa Staes (CUTR). The meeting began with the FTSN members and guests introducing themselves and describing their position with their respective agencies. Introductions were followed by FTSN committee reports.
Committee Reports and Discussion
Collisions Committee – Colin Mulloy, Chair (JTA)
Colin Malloy (JTA), chairperson of the Collisions committee reported that the committee met about a month ago. One of their major areas of focus is a statewide collision database. They discussed potential opportunities of working with the Florida Operations Network (FON) since there are crossover items of relevance, especially with the required implementation of SMS principles for transit. He further noted that it will be important to make sure the database meets the upcoming requirements of FTA.
He stressed the difficulty in getting comparative data, even within the state of Florida, due to the different standards, definitions, and metrics used by individual agencies. The committee indicated their wishes to harmonize information and tools utilized statewide by Florida transit agencies, and become more descriptive in nature of the different types of accidents/incidences that occur. The committee has begun working on a best practices guideline to assist agencies with being able to gather comparative data with each other and once again offered that the guidelines must be in accordance with the FTA’s pending mandates. It is not to be competitive or demonstrate one agency’s superiority over another, but to highlight similar features and the common issues that affect all agencies, small or large. It would also demonstrate the effectiveness of the safety programs currently being utilized.
Lisa attended the FPTA board meeting last month and said there is interest from the board to look at the data and information collected by Florida’s transit agencies. The board specifically asked that the FTSN help them with development of an incident database with corresponding definitions, descriptions of the metrics, etc.
The committee is looking at ways to incorporate near misses and close-call incidences into the database. The committee talked about some of the discrepancies between codes and classifications. They would like to see a unified, standardized codes and classifications list that can be used by all agencies throughout the state. Jim (MCAT) utilizes a list of codes that are very detailed with specific breakdowns of the incident. Colin (JTA) asked everyone to share information with the committee. The information will not be shared with the public, but instead used internally to help formulate a standardized list of codes and classifications. Paul (LeeTran) added that the information would be beneficial to recognize trends and develop antidotes for collision prevention. It will assist in preparing for gap analysis and defining goals and metrics that are attainable to make our state safer.
The committee discussed having a subcommittee to analyze the gathered database codes, making sure all agencies are included in the gathering of information. Additional focus areas include reviewing the impact of information and advertising placed on the rear of the bus.
Another topic that came up during the last committee meeting was the possibility of a joint venture with FDOT and FPTA in the development of a statewide safety awareness campaign that could lead to a federally funded demonstration project. Lisa Staes (CUTR) added there would be discussion on this topic later on during today’s meeting. She shared that Victor Wiley (FDOT) has already reached out to the Safety Office at USDOT and Lisa Bacot at FPTA regarding this opportunity. Several agencies reported they have public awareness safety campaigns as well as distracted driving campaigns directed to the public. Lisa S. also spoke with FTA about potential funding opportunities.
Colin (JTA) spoke about the new rear lighting design recently implemented by JTA, which was positively received by the operators. He gave a shout out to FDOT and LYNX for their contributions and assistance in getting the state statutes changed allowing for the new rear lighting designs. He emphasized how this is a prime example of how the unified voice of the safety network made a difference in getting things changed for the positive. JTA has already seen a reduction in rear end collisions, noting that it appears to have made a difference. Victor (FDOT) added that this change was the result of the agencies, the networks, and the research done by CUTR working together collectively to make legislative change. FTSN members should be proud to say that they do more than attend meetings; their voices do make a difference. The impact of this change can be seen in many ways from reduction in rear end collisions, to downtime, risk, maintenance repairs, and so on. This example is also a great way to encourage others, including the upper management to become involved with the network. Steve Berry (LYNX) noted they have also seen a steady reduction in rear end collisions, and Disney has made similar changes.
Lisa (CUTR) shared a story from the August FPTA Board meeting – recently a GM in that meeting had a near miss rear end collision with one of his own agency vehicles. The reason he gave for the near miss was due to the advertising on the back of the bus. Discussion at the recent FPTA board meeting, with many GMs attending, indicated that they were in the middle of contract negotiations with advertisers, and they would be taking into consideration the impact of advertisements on the rear end of buses when executing those advertising contracts. This is another demonstration of the impact the safety network is having with the safety of Florida’s public transit agencies. Lisa (CUTR) invited attendees of today’s meeting to join the Collisions Committee if they had interest.
Fatigue Committee – Dave Kelsey, Co-chair (HART)
Dave (HART) co-chair of the Fatigue Committee reported that the committee met in August. Dave acknowledged that fatigue continues to be a hot topic for transportation in general. It is in the headlines and is a common factor of problems for public transit, noting the public must have confidence in the transit driver behind the wheel. Rule 14-90 is in place to provide guidelines addressing fatigue awareness. However, streetcars and rail are not included in Rule 14–90. HART recently had to address corrective action plans with their streetcar and paratransit services regarding extensive hours of service. They have added these services into Trapeze (operations management software) to correct this problem.
Dave addressed the importance of developing a blame free system so operators would be comfortable to report near-misses without the fear of discipline or termination. During accident preventability interviews with operators, one of the questions asked by HART is “how much sleep did you get last night?” The answer to this question may not change the outcome of the situation, but it does demonstrate the impact of fatigue on the operator’s performance.
Lisa (CUTR) shared that the FTA is doing a “close call” demo with the objective of having guidelines to assist in establishing a reporting process for close-calls. Dave (HART) mentioned that the on board recording systems encourages the operator to call their near misses in to dispatch, allowing them to be documented, and reviewed on video. Due to funding issues, ride-alongs had been done away with at HART. However, it is apparent that the ride-alongs are very beneficial and this practice is being revisited.
Dave (HART) talked about the Fatigue Awareness CBT offered through CUTR, and medical testing that addressing sleep apnea. He reminded the group to train their dispatchers and transit supervisors to be observant of operators going on duty to make sure they are fit for duty. Operators who appear to be fatigued should not be allowed to get behind the wheel; they should be sent home to rest. Roberta (CUTR) spoke about the training course she teaches entitled “Transit Dispatch and Supervisor Training.” The class does not specifically address fatigue but it does address how dispatch is often the only person who sees the operator as they are going on a route. She stated it is incumbent on the dispatch to make sure the operator is fit for duty (in uniform, eyes are clear, speech is not slurred). Lisa asked if the course could be modified to provide additional discussion on fatigue recognition. Roberta stated that she would add a section into the training addressing fatigue recognition and how dispatchers and supervisors can recognize the symptoms.
Colin (JTA) shared that they had also had a problem with their paratransit service driver fatigue. They have doubled up on their training to address this problem. Victor (FDOT) emphasized the importance of someone monitoring operators who are going on duty; it is a point of compliance. Lisa (CUTR) noted that staying within the rules of on-duty hours is sometimes a difficult task for rural operators when transporting patients for medical appointments. If a driver has to wait for the patient’s doctor visit, that time is added to the on-duty hours. This is an ongoing concern for the paratransit systems, especially in the rural areas.
Victor (FDOT) addressed the issue of how to handle an operator who reports to work and expresses to his supervisor that he is tired and fatigued. Dean (Citrus Connection) shared that she had to send an operator home this morning because he had reported for duty too fatigued to operate the vehicle. He shared with his supervisor that because of numerous personal and family issues, he had not been able to get sufficient rest. The supervisor sent him home without penalty. Victor (FDOT) responded that he understood the difficult position this scenario puts upon dispatch and supervisors, as he has previously been in similar situations. Sometimes it means the supervisor may have to get behind the wheel, but regardless – when you know a driver is too tired to drive, you cannot allow them to operate the vehicle. He stated that the responsibility of putting a fatigued driver behind the wheel is not only a legal decision, but is also something that the dispatcher/supervisor has to deal with internally knowing their decision may have put other lives in jeopardy.
Chester (HART) addressed the importance of questioning the fatigued driver about their activities prior to reporting for duty. For example, did the driver participate/attend a special function (i.e. football game) that kept him up late, or did he simply not get enough rest during his off time. Chester (HART) also reminded the group that fatigue affects other employees, such as dispatchers and maintenance personnel. Victor (FDOT) reminded the group that 14-90 specifies the minimum hours of service standards. FDOT is not asking the observing member to be a doctor or psychologist, but common sense and intuitiveness are highly suggested. Observation should include any physical appearance of “not being their normal self,” or acting/appearing different from usual. The effects of drugs and alcohol, or being sick can also impair the operator’s ability to drive safely. Victor (FDOT) said it boils down to just being observant. Colin (JTA) shared that they have actually sent drivers home, as they were emotionally distraught/too upset to get behind the wheel. An example of a distressed emotional state would be when someone has lost a loved one or going through a divorce.
Dave (HART) stated that sleep disorders will be diagnosed by the medical doctor, and is not something that the dispatcher/supervisor should worry about knowledge to detect. Victor (FDOT) asked the group about agency sponsored wellness programs. Dave (HART) suggested that the Fatigue Committee assemble a checklist of signs and symptoms of fatigue that dispatchers and supervisors can utilize. It could be a guideline of fatigue indicators to watch for. Dave (HART) reminded the group that Victor (FDOT) is a member of the FTA’s TRAC. FTA is focusing on fatigue implications on transportation, and he is able to share first-hand information regarding fatigue research, findings, and regulations with the FTSN.
The Fatigue Committee recognizes these problems are overreaching into all facets of transit including maintenance. They recognize that by refusing to allow personnel to work additional hours, it may cause ill feelings from the employee. However, safety is number one and a fatigued employee is not a safe employee. Lisa (CUTR) said she would share with Ed Bart, Program Manager of the Transit Maintenance Analysis & Resource Center (TMAARC) at CUTR that the FTSN Fatigue Committee would like to collaborate on this topic.
Efforts will continue between FDOT, FON, and FTSN to address the best practices for all agencies, large and small, both fixed route and paratransit. The committee has identified the challenges, and suitable best practices are being developed for recommendations to the entire FTSN. They would like to develop a standardized fatigue awareness training in addition to CUTR’s current CBT. Approval of the curriculum must come from FDOT Central Office.
Additionally, the committee will concentrate on the impacts of sleep disorders and develop a standardized job description, featuring salient features of an operator’s job. These descriptions will be collected for analysis and review. The committee will establish fatigue performance measures that are currently being reviewed in conjunction with Rule 14-90 accident review. They will design a best practice program to provide continued support for all employees at rest for, or confirmed with, sleep disorders beyond the current fatigue management training. Emphasis on salient job functions will be determined in conjunction with the recommended job description. This will include time off, downtime, hours of service, consecutive days of driving, etc. in order to determine if fatigue was a casual factor. The committee will collect case studies related to at risk employees, or those confirmed with sleep disorders, in order to develop a best practice guidebook. This will be discussed in detail at the FPTA board meeting, with recommendations to develop a statewide database.
Bus Operator and Passenger Safety Committee – Stephen Berry, Chair (LYNX)
Steve (LYNX) reminded the group that for some time the FTSN has been discussing de-escalation. Because of those conversations, a computer-based training (CBT) and an instructor led training (ILT) are currently being developed. The intent of the courses is to train operators to adopt the “Jason Bourne” philosophy, which is centered in situational awareness and how to anticipate/plan how to handle/react effectively and safely. A preview of the de-escalation training is scheduled to be given during the FPTA annual conference in December. Steve also discussed a rollout of root cause analysis training to assist agencies in eliminating safety hazards. The committee would like to develop a public awareness campaign of “see and be seen.” They would like a potential joint project between the FDOT transit and safety offices and the FPTA.
The Operator and Passenger Safety committee would like to develop a best practices hiring technique for transit operators. The committee recommends that this project should be a priority. It is commonly agreed upon that Human Resources (HR) views potential employees/new hires in a different manner than what is required to be a transit operator. Some agencies utilize pre-hire personality and behavioral tendencies testing, as customer service is paramount for bus operators. Sarasota County (SCAT) and LYNX are utilizing Select Advantage online testing prior to interviews. They recognize that you can train for skill, but you cannot train for personality.
Citrus Connection is utilizing ride-alongs (on their worst routes) to introduce potential new hires to real world of being a bus operator. New hires often draw the worst hours and the worst routes, which can put them at a higher risk of incidence. With this in mind, it is important to hire the right person from the beginning. The committee is looking at improving/updating the job description. Chester (HART) is going to share his list of interview questions with the committee. It was also mentioned that in the upcoming years, the transit industry would not have a plethora of job candidates as the job market changes. There was discussion about root cause analysis regarding employee retention as well.
Distracted Driving Committee – Jim Egbert (MCAT)
Jim (MCAT) opened his committee report by saying that we have to change the culture of our operations. Often times we find that the decision-makers of a transit agency have not ridden a bus in years. There is a disconnect between the operations of the agency vs. the reality of what goes on in the daily happenings of the agency. Jim (MCAT), Colin (JTA), and Roberta (CUTR) have been collaborating on distracted driving issues, but are considering merging with the Collisions Committee, as there are many correlations between the two.
In regards to wireless communications at MCAT, visible cell phones are a violation. The phones must be turned off and out of sight. Each agency has a different penalty for violating the wireless communications rule (first offence at MCAT initiates a 5-day suspension). The committee would like to recommend a list of established penalties for violating 14-90, which could be used statewide by all public transit agencies.
It was noted that personal electronic devices (PEDs) are different from mobile data terminals (MDTs) which can also be distracting. Jim described a hypothetical situation where an agency might decide not to invest large sums of money on MDTs or various communication systems, choosing instead to communicate with their on-duty operators via PEDs. We need to make sure we are not being hypocritical in our regulation of the numerous mechanisms of distraction devices.
Jim (MCAT) also spoke about the issues some agencies are experiencing with passengers from alternative schools. Distractive and sometimes violent behavior (outbursts, fights, etc.) by riders is a major distraction for the operator. Colin (JTA), Dean (Citrus Connection), Mike (PSTA), and Steve (LYNX) stated their agencies are having issues with the alternative school passengers, and local law enforcement must be stationed at some bus stops. The committee is addressing the potential impact this has on operators and passengers. Ultimately, we need to broaden the scope of what causes distracted driving and look at a holistic approach to combat these factors. Jim (MCAT) is going to utilize the FTSN listserv to query the agencies about their individual policies and discipline procedures, and compare how far apart or close we are in how we deal with these common problems and concerns.
At Victor’s (FDOT) request, Roberta (CUTR) shared that the CBT “Curbing Transit Operator Distracted Driving” has been updated to address items/situations other than cellphones.
Rural Transit Agencies – Ed Clark, Chair (St. Johns COA)
Ed (SJCOA) shared that he is chairing a new committee recently formed to represent rural agencies, giving them a voice and making sure decisions made by the existing FTSN committees do not adversely impact the rural agencies. He emphasized that most rural agencies do not have a safety nor training department due to limited funding. The staff wears many hats all times, which makes their lives different from that of a larger agency.
This committee will focus on the requirements that are specific to small agencies and access technical assistance from the larger agencies, a practice which is already being done with policies and procedures sharing. The committee wants to work with FDOT on 14-90 rule modification in reference to things that impact rural agencies. The committee has identified some priorities for the coming year. They intend to form sub-committees within their Rural Committee to address items the larger FTSN committees are working on such as bus stop design. The rural agencies do not have an engineering department to design bus stops. Even though there are state guidelines to design bus stops, they are very generic. Rural agencies need assistance with tweaking the generic designs to make them suitable and safe for their customers. Lisa asked if there were transit agencies at the table who could help the rural with standardized plans or schematics. A number of agencies indicated their willingness to assist.
Another area is the SSPP for which St. John’s County uses the FDOT template, which includes training. However, many rural agencies must modify the template to make it applicable, and they need assistance to do so. In essence, the rural counties need something that they can “plug and play.” Rural agencies also need RTAP training instructors on a statewide basis to come to their properties, as it is difficult to send employees to off-site training opportunities due to the small nature of staff. It is cheaper for the agency to pay a trainer to come to the agency than it is to send one employee to a statewide training. David (Baker County COA) expressed that information shared in the FTSN meetings is quite helpful for their agency. An example he gave was regarding the Select Advantage (SA) pre-hire screening program, would assist the rural agencies with driver retention. Ben Pearl (SCAT) explained how the program works. He is going to share information regarding the SA program. David also talked about their problems with bus stop placement, engineering support, and maintenance department assistance that supported sentiments Ed has previously shared. Mike (Nassau County) also spoke to comments made regarding the small agencies challenges that are a part of their workplace.
Ed expressed appreciation on behalf of rural agencies for the assistance and technical support they receive from the larger agencies and from the FTSN. Rural agencies (41 within Florida) face the same challenges as a larger agency, just on a smaller scale. Steve (LYNX) asked about the likelihood of larger agencies partnering with rural agencies to point, guide, and assist them in the right direction, i.e. a large agency sponsor a rural agency. For instance, if LYNX sponsored three rural agencies, it would help the rural agencies achieve the federal state of good repair regulations that are forthcoming, and would not be a burden to LYNX.
Victor (FDOT) asked Mike (Nassau County) to give a description of the staffing structure of Nassau County COA. Mike said they were a group of 22 committed professionals – the transportation director, the chief of operations, a dispatcher, and the balance of employees are bus operators. The agency covers approximately 670 square miles. There are more dirt roads than there are paved roads. David (Baker County COA) talked about their agency and the fact that after a rainstorm, many (dirt) roads are washed out so that buses cannot get to their customer. Their staff is very dedicated and performs numerous tasks from janitorial to CTC functions. There is always something they are preparing for – from hurricanes to audits. Sometimes it is exhausting and requires dedicated people to keep things moving. Ed (SJCOA) added that rural agencies do not have 5307 monies, only 5310 or 5311 funding if they are lucky; their budgets are quite slim. The Rural Committee’s goal is to work with the other FTSN committees to find solutions to the common problems faced by all.
Safety Training Committee – Paul Goyette, Chair (LeeTran)
Paul noted how many of the topics discussed today weave together. He invited FTSN members to join the working committees. De-escalation (CBT) training development is currently underway as well as plans to develop an active shooter CBT training. LeeTran has been working with their local law enforcement and doing employee exercises at their property. He suggests all Florida’s transit agencies consider doing the same. He believes this may prove to be extra challenging at the state level, and will work better at small-scale agency levels.
Paul referenced the ongoing discussions related to the development of minimum standards for an operator training certificate program that would allow a bus operator to transfer some completed training experiences from one agency to another. It would be recommended to FDOT that standardized bus operator training curriculum be established. This could help to reduce training costs throughout the state. He asked the group for input and ideas.
LeeTran is utilizing electronic message board training to attend to systemic issues. He suggested other agencies consider these e-message boards as a way to communicate safety and other operational issues to the employees/operators. He also recommended a “message board” for the FTSN website.
LeeTran recently went through a federal SMS gap analysis review, which uncovered numerous items that have to be addressed. Fortunately, FTA has not put all the SMS requirements in place so agencies have time to learn the solutions to be in compliance.
The Training Committee is collaborating to develop a role-playing model for an instructor-led customer service training. They are recommending FDOT consider the development of a standardized training. Additionally, they will be focusing on a Best Practices of Worker’s Comp impact training, demonstrating how to mitigate Worker’s Compensation claims and costs, as well as a training to assist current employees in transitioning into a new position such as supervisor. The TSI Supervisor Certification course was recognized, but the training committee feels that we should develop something more applicable for Florida’s transit workforce.
Lisa (CUTR) thanked the committees for their reports and invited anyone who would like to work with a group to feel free to contact her to join the committee. She noted that most committee meetings are conducted via teleconference to best accommodate time and travel restrictions.
Program Modifications – Victor Wiley (FDOT Central Office/Tallahassee)
Victor (FDOT) shared that FON + FTSN = Synergy. Therefore, there will be a merger of the two networks. It will be called the Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network. Current training will continue seamlessly. Suggestions from both networks have been submitted and now they are working towards the best products and best training opportunities. There will be adjustments, and the transition could be difficult, but this is a great opportunity to work with the FON as so many of the issues at hand are crossovers. Victor encouraged everyone to be quick with their comments, and FDOT will be quick to listen.
A couple significant issues came to the forefront in the merger discussions including the possibility of merging some of the sub-committees since safety is across all realms of the networks’ focus. He added that Robert Westbrook (FDOT Central Office) is adamant that operations’ issues not be lost in the merger. Victor identified some of the items that will not change such as SMS implementation and the safety and operations training programs. Lisa (CUTR) shared that there has been great dialogue with members of both networks regarding the merger, and the benefits that can come from it.
Victor (FDOT) encouraged everyone at the meeting to make suggestions and/or comments as the merger occurs. He referenced the change in the way FDOT has changed the methodology and implementation of research being done for Florida’s transit agencies. A prime example of this is the recent research done by Rob Gregg’s team that resulted in legislative change for transit bus rear-end lighting placement. Victor wants to see the network advance to a higher level. Being a part of the network is not a resume builder; it is to contribute and make a difference in the industry. He is proud of the work demonstrated by the network, and encouraged the group to continue the great work moving on to the next level of influential accomplishment!
Rob Gregg (CUTR) gave a presentation highlighting how many members of the Safety network are members of the FON. Many of the faces of the FON are the same faces that came on board with the creation of the Safety network. Examples of the networks commonality are research, training, technical assistance and funding. 5310, 5311, and 5307 compliance issues should lead to priorities in training, research, and technical assistance.
To demonstrate how these areas are correlated, Rob created a word cloud – Data, Metrics, Templates, Operating Service, Hiring, Human Element, Training, Compliance (SMS), ADA, Gap Analysis, Customer Service, Workers’ Comp, Functions, Performance, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Succession Planning, Career Development, Recruitment, and Emergency Development. “It is impossible to see where Operations begins and Safety ends” when talking about these crossover areas of focus.
Some functional areas of the FON priorities that will be folded into the newly merged group are key performance indicators, succession planning/career development/recruitment, and emergency management. It was noted that metrics and key performance indicators show where we are excelling or failing, and show how we can find solutions to our challenges. When it comes to measures vs. standards, how we define the key performance measure can affect the results. Safety performance measures are critical and the safety programs will have to address this area. Lisa (CUTR) reminded the group that federal standards are forthcoming for all agencies and it is good to be pro-active. Communications to the public and to our stakeholders will be a vital point to success (i.e. on-time performance). Rob (CUTR) also presented other common points that affect operations and safety, using images of JTA’s KPI graphs and charts, which demonstrate numerous cross-functional aspects.
Lisa (CUTR) noted that it is critical to begin thinking about performance measures and indicators when discussing safety. The Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) will require monitoring, tracking, and corrective action plans across all aspects of public transportation.
Paul (LeeTran) said we need to apply all these things to all aspects, and noted how everything ties to the SMS concept. Victor (FDOT) acknowledged that many agencies are already doing all these things. Agencies should continue to do three things, 1) look at things holistically, 2) do not put operations nor safety in a small box, and 3) heightened focus on operational aspect. We need to think of how our role will continue with 5307 agencies as we implement SMS. As we move forward, invitations will be sent to the FON and the FTSN networks for the merged committee from this point forward.
Steve (LYNX) noted that root cause analysis conversations comes to mind with safety as the umbrella of all operational output. There should be a safety healthy checks and balance criteria for all aspects of an agency’s operations, vetted through each department. If safety is first, this transition should be normal and natural on a holistic basis.
Colin (JTA) shared that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) caused headaches. It will be important for the agencies to support each other as these SMS is implemented, and share peer-to-peer information. The group needs to speak intelligently on measurements and required actions. Victor (FDOT) added that the peer-to-peer portion of this contract would address “big brother” assistance. Chester (HART) spoke of how KPIs affect the hazard analysis procedure. When compared to the cause and affects, it may impact the decisions of a KPI’s acceptable level.
Stache (RTS City of Gainesville) expressed that hiring process affects every challenge we face. Workforce development feeds into training priorities, programing, and professional development. Emergency management (EM) will be a perfect place to meld safety with operations.
Steve (LYNX) encouraged the network to keep emergency management to the forefront of topics to address. He spoke about the recent emergency situations (the shooting of a Pop singer, the Pulse nightclub shooting, and a fatal alligator attack at Disney World) and that had occurred in Orlando within a few days of each other. These events deeply affected their system in numerous ways including route changing. LYNX activated an emergency management status immediately but it was clear that some employees were lost /overwhelmed when it came time to respond. He said many of us think of hurricanes as the emergency we will face, but hurricanes are “easy” emergencies as we have timely warnings of their approaching path. However, will agencies be prepared when faced with the unexpected emergencies like The Pulse shooting?
Jim (MCAT) agreed and shared that he works hard to have his agency prepared with a tight, robust system ready for the expected and the unknown emergencies. He stated we have the supplies (i.e. body bags), equipment, and resources for the emergencies, but agencies are not prepared on how to respond. NIMS training and tabletop drills should be utilized, even in the small areas, and phone lists of employees, (especially drivers, supervisors, and dispatch) willing to work during emergency events should be maintained. Several people shared how the work with their local EOC and law enforcement agencies to clarify the roles transit plays during an emergency as well as the behind the scenes requirements the transit agency must have in order to contribute to effective emergency response. Dean (Citrus Connection) shared that their agency participated in an EM weeklong drill in Tallahassee touching on hurricanes and active shooter scenarios. It is amazing how many lawmakers do not realize what actually occurs within the agencies.
Colin (JTA) said that when it comes to actually rolling out competent implementation, people draw a blank. He noted that JTA has 400 operators but only eight volunteered to work during a recent emergency status.
Roberta (CUTR) shared in some states, transit agencies will implement an agreement with the EOC and the Red Cross to shelter the transit employee’s family, which allows the transit employee peace of mind so they are more willing to help during a crisis. Agencies should also prioritized their bus fleet and prioritize needed places that will need to be evacuated (including assisted living/elderly homes, schools, etc.)
Steve (LYNX) reminded the group that “we” are the ones being trained for these situations. Staffing is not wide and deep during emergencies, and a timekeeper is needed, as reimbursement will not occur from the state. Victor (FDOT) added that Bobby (Robert Westbrook/FDOT) has planned coordination for setting the stage of MAP21 and the FAST Act adoption. Everyone should reach out to their district offices, and then the central office if need be. Do not be afraid of these new changes, pay attention, and ask questions. Lisa (CUTR) said drills, planning, and other requirements are currently in the works at the federal level. These requirement practices will be in place in a few years, so it is very good that Florida is taking these pro-active steps.
FTA Bus Safety Program Onsight Voluntary Review and SMS Gap Analysis, Observations on Process and Findings – Paul Goyette, Lee Tran
Paul (LeeTran) stated that SMS is going to happen. It is coming but not like a freight train. We have time to prepare for implementation unlike the drug and alcohol regulations, which were implemented a few years ago. The FTA has so far determined to customize SMS for the bus side. The items covered seem almost insurmountable. LeeTran volunteered to participate in an FTA voluntary safety review and SMS gap analysis. It was neither dangerous nor damaging to the agency, but it was eye opening to areas that need to be addressed.
Paul (LeeTran) provided an example related to agency data and documentation. He knew the required data existed, but the gap analysis made the agency aware that the data was not in a central place, and was not easy to access. SMS requires that we document and double-check everything we do. Currently, this practice is only required for accidents. However, asset management will be looked at in the same way once the new requirements are implemented. Safety assurance is like quality control (have you checked everything, and documented everything that was checked?).
Paul (LeeTran) explained the gap analysis process. It began with pre-review activities and ended with a pre-/exit meeting. The interview team came on-site to the agency to review SMS components or pillars: Safety Management Policy, Safety Risk Management, Safety Assurance, and Safety Promotion. There were general findings within each of the SMS components. Paul stated that he could not stress enough how important it is to have a formalized, safety policy with documentation to backup these items. The assessment areas included Management, Operations, Vehicle and Facilities, Personnel, Training, Public Safety, and Emergency Preparedness items for each department within the agency. Additionally, you must have a policy that backs that up every requirement. Cooperation and documentation must be done for everything (i.e. what are you doing, and what are you doing about it. If you did something, what did you do after that? Document what is or is not working. Are you measuring everything? Are you trending all elements?).
He noted that safety promotions and campaigns are not enough. You must describe what mechanisms are in place for employees to report safety concerns, how the agency documents that process, and the solutions to resolve any issues. During the analysis it will be noted if supervisors have participated in NIMS training (certificates should be on record). The accountable executive must appoint a lead person on this initiative. There should be an SMS team representing each department in the organization. Agencies need more guidance on how to do this from the state and from the FTA.
Agencies must have a formally assigned chief of safety. During the gap analysis, reviewers looked for cleanliness. Currently, there is not a central depository or database denoting the data they want to see, but everything should be easily accessible. Paul (LeeTran) shared some of the specific feedback received from the gap analysis review, acknowledging there is much work to be done.
It is his hope that now with the Operations and Safety networks adjoined, we can work more closely together to get the results we need from the merged program. He would like to see more collaboration, spread the word, and get more people to participate in the meetings.
Stache (RTS) shared that when they were developing their new facility, he had to write a safety plan for the contract. It was his responsibility to design the hazards out, and document everything done to combat the items identified. They had to provide detailed specifics for something as simple as an employee not wearing their hardhat, and what action would be taken to prevent a reoccurrence.
Lisa stated that there are technical assistance and resources available from FTA, as well at specific individuals are available to help. She provided the website for FTA’s Safety and Oversight Program.
FDOT Compliance Support Program –Victor Wiley (FDOT) and Lisa Staes (CUTR)
Victor stated there will be updates coming with the new requirements from MAP 21 and the FAST Act and specifically, the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP). He wants the committee to lead by example. He noted that rural/smaller agencies have reason to be concerned, but they have the strength and knowledge of the FTSON behind them. Agencies will have to designate who will be the safety executive. The SMS lead can be the safety executive. All plans are designed to be scalable. The state will work with you, it is a lot of work, but we are here to help. Victor expressed appreciation to Paul and Lee Tran for their participation in the gap analysis review. Victor reminded the committee that the government could withhold funding if the agency does not have a PTASP in place. We encourage the committee to share this information with their upper management, letting them know these plans are going into action. There will be a penalty for noncompliance. The newly formed safety and operations program will focus on compliance.
Victor expressed disappointment in recent 14-90 bus system safety and security reviews. The reviews are to make sure that policies are established and that policies are being followed. We are developing a routine to ensure you are getting relevant information from the review. Recommendations may not be rosy, but they may be the timely news that you need to hear. During bus system safety and security reviews, files will be thoroughly reviewed. He does not care about the number of deficiencies; he wants the items that need to be addressed to be addressed. Unsafe items should be revealed right away and the agency’s solutions should occur immediately. These items will probably be in the final report, but the agency should not wait for the report to solve safety sensitive problems. FDOT will provide technical assistance to agencies to help correct deficiencies.
Lisa (CUTR) added that while there is an SSPP template available, it must be updated. She indicated that Victor and she will be updating the template.
Victor spoke about the Statewide Safety Awareness Campaign sharing that he, Robert Westbrook (FDOT), Lisa Staes (CUTR), and Lisa Bacot (FPTA) have met in regards to a statewide campaign. He noted progress is being made with the Safety Office regarding the rear-end collision and distracted driving campaign. The campaign may be conducted through social media, as funding is limited.
Victor encouraged everyone to read over the requirements of PTASP, to google Regulation 673, and visit the FTA website, Map-21 FAST Act Rulemaking for information on the safety plans and Rule 670.
Lisa (CUTR) noted the GMs of the agencies are very interested in the development of the statewide database and reporting conformity. Colin (JTA) encouraged everyone to take advantage of the support that exists from upper management/GMs to make the database a reality. He would like to see a commitment from the larger agencies, allowing the network/collisions committee to get the topic in front of the FPTA board. Lisa recommended a progress report be presented to the FPTA board at their next meeting.
Update on Training
Roberta (CUTR) gave an update on the trainings that are in development. She defined that CBT indicates a computer based training while ILT means the course is an instructor led training in the classroom. She expressed appreciation to all the committees for their contributions and making the training development happen, and she thanked Victor Wiley (FDOT) for his support of the projects. She noted that the ILT de-escalation training would focus on role-playing to demonstrate things to do, and things not to do. It will allow an agency to insert a video clip of real-life experiences to further define the message.
A request for videos and other images from the agencies was requested, noting that faces/voices/logos will be blurred to protect identity or implication of wrongdoing. Successful anecdotes and positive examples from the agencies are needed, as the focus of the training will be positive. A rough draft of the ILT will be available for review later this month. The CBT could be ready for an initial presentation/beta test by December 2016.
She spoke about the training course entitled “Policies, Procedures, and Workplace Best Practices,” noting that during the course classroom discussion will cover ways to get to the root cause. The theory allows that within seven whys (questions), you should be find the root cause. Knowing the root cause should allow for reductions of incidents, and providing corrective action plans. Other topics include Workers’ Comp and FMLA. This course will be presented at Lee Tran on October 18-20, registration is open. Document control is a big part of this course. Lastly, Roberta shared that CUTR has contracted with LYNX to do specific disability and sensitivity training for their paratransit operators/subcontractors.
Molly (CUTR) shared a list of upcoming training opportunities currently scheduled through July 2017. It was noted that the training calendar is fluid. Additional training courses will be added frequently to the calendar. To register for any training classes, please visit www.transportationlearning.org.
FTA Safety Activities – Lisa Staes (CUTR)
Lisa provided a handout to the FTSN attendees which addressed public transportation safety program final rule applicability, FTA policy statement, definitions including accountable executive, and inspections, investigations, audits, examinations and testing. Applicability carries out the mandate of 49 U.S.C. 5329 to improve the safety of public transportation systems, and applies to the recipients of federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53.
The FTA has formally adopted the principles and methods of safety management systems (SMS) as the basis for enhancing the safety of public transportation. By definition, a single identifiable individual who has ultimate responsibility for carrying out the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) will be the Accountable Executive. This person will be responsible for carrying out the agencies Transit Asset Management Plan, and in control or direction over the human and capital resources needed to develop the PTASP. This plan authorizes the conduct of investigations, inspections, audits, and examinations and testing of equipment, facilities, rolling stock, and operations of the system. It also allows for request for confidential treatment of records within established processes, and allows for limitations.
The authorities of the FTA administrator may require more frequent oversight of a recipient by a state safety oversight agency with jurisdiction over the recipient. They may issue restrictions and prohibitions if the administrator determines that an unsafe condition our practice exists with substantial risk of death or injury. They may require a recipient to use Chapter 53 funds to correct safety violations for used for any other purpose. They may withhold additional funds if there is a pattern or practice of serious violations, our refusal to comply with the PTASP. Provision is given for notice of violation, response by the recipient, and a final decision before funds are withheld.
The purpose of the PTASP is to avoid or mitigate hazards and areas of risk to the general public. It also provides for the issuance of special directives to one or more named recipients. This plan establishes content of the National Public Transportation Safety Plan (NPTSP) that includes safety performance criteria for all modes of public transportation, the definition of state of good repair (SGR), minimum safety performance standards, minimum performance standards for public transportation operations, and a public transportation safety certification training program. Best practices, technical assistance, templates, and other tools will be provided within the NPTSP. Research, reports, data, and information on hazard identification and risk management, and guidance on prevention of accidents and incidents will be addressed.
The final rule for the PTASPs will be issued within the coming months. Once issued, agencies will have one year to develop their PTASP. After adoption, the plan will be evaluated during the FTA Triennial Reviews.
The next meeting of the FTSON (FTSN and FON) will be in December 2016.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:45 PM.