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The Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) meeting was held on August 27, 2019 at LYNX in Orlando, Florida. The meeting was called to order by Stephen Berry and Paul Goyette (CUTR), who welcomed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representative Ashley Porter. Individual introductions of FTSON members and guests continued. Tellis Chandler of LYNX welcomed the Network; Jafari Bowden (LYNX) provided facility information and an emergency/safety briefing to the visitors. There were 46 in attendance; a sign-in sheet of the meeting is attached.
Paul Goyette, CUTR
There were numerous first-time attendees to the FTSON. Paul (CUTR) provided a historical summary of the evolution of the Network. Beginning in 2000 as the Florida Operations Network (FON) and merging with the Florida Transit Safety Network (FTSN) in 2016, the FTSON was formed. Led by FDOT and supported by CUTR, the Network forum for defining key transit safety issues, impacts and solutions, plus updates on policies, procedures and best practices is driven by the transit agency representatives. With goals clearly identified by the members of the Network the mission is as follows:
- To provide a more comprehensive forum to discuss common and vital issues.
- To coordinate training priorities and establish new initiatives like Peer-to-Peer training.
- To exchange information to further professional development, competencies and ensure compliance with FDOT’s Triennial Review elements.
FTSON can boast of numerous accomplishments such as the Wireless Communication standards, minimum standards for bus operator driving hours, advisement during Rule 14-90 revision, right-side mirror height on fixed route buses and the platform for drug and alcohol regulatory updates. Information sharing has proved invaluable thru the FTSON listserv. As a direct result of the requests of the Network members, training programs were developed including The Art of Defusing Conflict: De-Escalation Techniques for Transit Operators (ILT & CBT), Rule Chapter 14-90, Florida Administrative Code: A Review for You – A Course for Bus Transit Drivers (CBT), and Wireless Communication Training Program (ILT & CBT).
There have been three published reports (Evaluation of Rear-end Bus Collisions and Identification of Possible Solutions, Strategies to Prevent, Reduce and Mitigate Bus Collisions, and Bus Operator Safety – Critical Issues Examination and Model Practices).
An annual Safety Summit which averages approximately 200 attendees is hosted each year by the FTSON. Partners and contributors of the past Summits include the Federal Transit Administration, Department of Homeland Security, American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Noblis Transportation Systems, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Mobileye© Collision Avoidance Technology, and Washington State Transit Insurance Pool. However, the largest contributor of the FTSON is Florida’s public transit agencies.
A question was posed to the meeting attendees – what keeps you up at night? Where do you want the Network to go from here? Comments from the audience included addressing the topics of passenger injuries, operator assaults, community involvement. It was noted that Safety, Maintenance, and Operations must come together in the pursuit of making the transit community a stronger, safer place. Stache Miné (CUTR) stated Dispatch must be included in this quest. Jafari Bowden (LYNX) added there is a gap in training for addressing passenger injuries. Matt Minaberry (VOTRAN) commented that agencies have information on their websites, but passengers rarely read or are aware of the messages.
Other items included driver shortage, driver fatigue and personal customer service skills. It was mentioned that an increased ridership of the homeless population has left operators in a position of not knowing how to handle unexpected situations when dealing with mentally ill passengers. These skills are important in mitigating small/nuisance claims against the agency.
Driver Assaults in Florida
Steve Berry, CUTR and Colin Mulloy, HART
Steve (CUTR) shared his recent experience with a speaking engagement with the ATU in California. Ivan Maldonado (HART) filled in for Colin Mulloy (HART) who was unable to attend the meeting. Ivan (HART) spoke about the recent tragedy involving a HART operator who was killed while in service by a mentally ill passenger. Ivan spoke of the impact it made on new hire operators, the trauma felt by current drivers, and how numerous drivers called in sick after the incident. He addressed the difficulties of dealing with the news media. He stated HART contract security officers now carry side arms, and he cautioned all agencies to be prepared for days like this in the future.
He also shared a list of actions HART has taken in the aftermath of the tragedy. Margi Price (HART) shared that after the event, HART received numerous life-threatening threats through their social media and customer service phone lines. These threats added to the drivers’ fear of a copy-cat attack. Paul (CUTR) added that as an agency, we must never stop planning to be prepared for the unexpected. Agencies should have an SOP for notifications and have their “house in order” prior to catastrophic events. Steve (CUTR) spoke about situational awareness for all employees, especially drivers, using the ‘Red Baron’ theory as an example to follow.
Working Lunch: Non-punitive Safety Reporting
Dean Kirkland and Rino Saliceto, CUTR
The Employee Safety Reporting Policy is a part of the Safety Management Policy (SMP) and states that agencies must establish and implement a process that allows all employees – including relevant contract employees – to report safety conditions to senior management. This policy is intended to help the Accountable Executive and other senior managers get important safety information from all areas of the transit agency.
The program will create a change in the workplace culture and can be an agency’s most important source of information. Reported safety conditions could include hazards, potential consequences of hazards, and other relevant safety information.
Protections for employees who report safety conditions to senior management (Part 673) are provided although the Rule does not specify what those protections must be. They must describe employee behaviors that may result in disciplinary actions and they must inform employees of safety actions taken in response to reports submitted through an employee safety reporting program. Part §673.29(b) does not specify which methods (Hotline, SharePoint site or form, paper form, phone or tablet app, safety meetings or toolbox talks) should be used.
Results of a nationwide survey of 19 transit agencies were provided showcasing the aspects of non-punitive employee safety reporting. Performance measures tracking the efficacy of the system was also provided. Commonalities for follow-up procedures showed that if contact information is provided, follow-up occurs and hazards and responses are logged and tracked, reports are reviewed/discussed, and Corrective Action Plans are implemented. Ben Pearl (Sarasota County) requested a template that could be used for the agencies.
Crosswalk – Safety Management Systems (SMS), Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASP), Chapter 14-90
Ashley Porter, FDOT and Paul Goyette, CUTR
Steve (CUTR) and Ashley (FDOT) addressed the 49 CFR Part 673 requirements for Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASP). The PTASP applies to operators of transit systems that receive FTA Section 5307 funds. There is a deferred applicability for operators receiving Section 5310 and/or Section 5311 funds.
The plan must be developed, certified, and implemented by July 20, 2020. It must be approved by Accountable Executive and the Board of Directors. It requires annual review/update and certification and be in compliance with Public Transportation Safety Program/National Safety Plan. A Chief Safety Officer must be assigned and records associated with the plan must be kept for three years.
Points of PTASP must-haves include agency-wide SMS processes for risk management, safety assurance, safety promotion, a continuous process for risk assessment, management, mitigation, re-assessment, change management process and a non-punitive employee reporting program. The basis for the PTASP is Safety Management Policy, Safety Risk Management, Safety Assurance, and Safety Promotion. A summary discussion followed of relevant Chapter 14-90 sections and comparisons between PTASP and 14-90.
Accident Investigations and CAPs
Dean Kirkland, CUTR and Tony Ferraro, TRA (Download Handout)
Accident incident investigations are required by 14-90.004(5) FAC. Agencies must investigate, or cause to be investigated, any event involving an agency vehicle resulting in a fatality, injury, or property damage as follows:
- Fatality, where an individual is confirmed dead within 30 days of an agency vehicle transit system related event, excluding suicides and deaths from illnesses
- Injuries requiring immediate medical attention away from the scene for two (2) or more individuals.
- Property damage to agency vehicles, or other agency vehicle system property or facilities, or any other property that equals or exceeds $1,000.00
- Evacuation of an agency vehicle due to a life safety event where there is an imminent danger to passengers on the agency vehicle, excluding evacuations due to operational issues
Events are investigated and documented in a final report that includes a description of the investigation activities, the identified causal factors, and any identified corrective actions. Tony (TRA) presented statistical information regarding accident investigation and CAPs in rail transit.
Open Discussion – Action Items
Ashley Porter, FDOT and Paul Goyette, CUTR
Closing remarks were given by Steve and Paul (CUTR). The floor was opened up to the members of the FTSON for feedback, key to the guidance of the Network. Topics, requests, and suggestions received from the audience included developing a standardized trespass policy with codes, forming a Rule 14-90 Advisory Committee, Operator Safety training (there can never be enough) and a developing a ‘How to Ride Guide’ PSA.
A source for ADA legal advice was requested; the areas of ADA concerns ranged from allowable widths of wheelchairs to service animal qualifications. Bill Mayer (CUTR) shared there will be an ADA presentation at the 2020 FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop.
A list of upcoming transit trainings was shared with the attendees including Assault Awareness and Prevention for Transit Operators (Train the Trainer) and the Florida Small and Rural Transit Agency Bus Operator Training Program (Train-the-Trainer).
The meeting was adjourned at 3:30pm.