The Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) quarterly meeting was held on January 30, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. The meeting was formally called to order by Stephen Berry (CUTR), who welcomed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representatives Elizabeth Stutts, Robert Westbrook, and John Lanham. Introductions of FTSON members and guests continued. Housekeeping items and information including emergency exits and CPR/AED were provided. Rob Gregg (CUTR) gave a brief intro and encouraged attendees to join a FTSON committee if they were not a part of the working groups. There were more than 60 people in attendance.
Committee Reports by Committee Chairs – Goals and Objectives
Colin Mulloy (HART)
Colin Mulloy (HART) provided an update on the 2017 Work Plan of the Collisions Committee. In conjunction and with the approval of FDOT, this committee worked with the KPI and other FTSON committees on development thresholds in the establishment of a statewide accident/incident tracking database. By assessing current best practices for establishing collision database, and comparing the number of rear ended collisions in Florida incurs versus the rest of the country, the committee wants to develop a public awareness campaign that addresses single occupancy vehicle rear-ended collisions with bus transit vehicles. The committee recommends working with NHTSA and Florida Sheriff’s Association, involving everyone on behalf of transit in Florida. Outcomes may include the development of recommended policies, practices, or training.
To accomplish these goals, the Collisions Committee will continue to work with the KPI Committee on the establishment of a statewide database, and work with FPTA and FDOT on potential public awareness campaign designs and implementation. They will develop best practices on how bus operators can avoid collisions, which may include defensive driving training to develop a pro-active environment. They will review stops and infrastructure/intersections to make recommendations on street/stop/intersection treatments.
Bobby Westbrook (FDOT) shared that the lighting on the back of the bus is a traffic control signal. It must have standardization, allowing the public to interpret the signal correctly and know what to do (i.e. stop). He is working his way across the state to make sure each agency’s rear lighting configurations are standardized before a public awareness campaign is released. He noted the ‘Yield to Bus’ signage currently seen on many busses applies to the dedicated bus lanes only. It is potentially being used incorrectly.
Rob Gregg mentioned that thanks to FDOT, the Florida Transit Marketing Network (FTMN) will be coordinating with the Collision Committee to develop a state-wide public awareness campaign concept.
Distracted Driving and Driver Fatigue Committee
Rosemary Bosby, Chair
Rosemary Bosby (StarMetro) gave an update on the Distracted Driving and Driver Fatigue Committee who are working in conjunction with and approval from FDOT. The committee has developed recommendations to address distracted driving and fatigue to include:
- General policy template
- Scheduling criteria sensitive to impact on fatigue
- Wellness program benefits
- Outside employment policy
- Effective training techniques
- Outcomes may include the development of recommended policies, practices, or training content to mitigate the injuries, fatalities, or loss associated with distracted driving
In 2018, the required actions of the committee will include working with HART to establish if their reduction in hours of service policy has reduced accidents/incidents, working with transit agencies throughout Florida on wellness programs, and working with employees and unions to develop a proposed statewide guidance on outside employment policy. The committee will review results of TCRP project currently in process to determine what impact scheduled breaks have on operators’ health. Based on results of a TCRP study, the committee will develop a best practice for recommended intervals for relief breaks. Carlos (DPTW Miami) shared his personal experience with CPAP, and the helpfulness it provides when fighting against driver fatigue.
Workforce Sustainability Committee
Patricia Collins, PSTA
Trisha (PSTA) reported that this committee, in conjunction with and approval from FDOT, has been conducting research with transit agencies (operations and HR staff and other personnel as determined necessary), concentrating on characteristics of high performing bus operators. The committee has completed Initial interviews and research, and will submit a rough draft of compiled info by February 15, 2018.
The committee will generate a compendium by topic to the interviewed agencies, with a concise list of recommended questions. A guide book will be developed with proposed best practices in nine areas; the initial draft is in process. The guide will cover the topics of determining what makes a great operator, advertising, operator criteria/job description, interview questions, assessment tools, hiring process, training, retention, and turn-over. The committee also wishes to develop a succession planning program, concentrating on the development of a mentorship and internal leadership program, to ensure agency personnel are being afforded the skills and opportunities needed to move up within their agency.
Performance and Compliance Management (KPI) Committee
Keith Clinkscale, Palm Tran
Working in conjunction with and approval from FDOT, Keith (PalmTran) reported this committee is focused on the development of a preliminary set of core performance metrics by establishing consensus of definitions, measurables, and goals and data analysis in major KPI categories. This information will be used in the previously discussed Collisions Committee database. Items covered will include service (on time performance, and mean distance between service), Customer Service (reliability, and customer satisfaction – which is difficult to measure), Safety (incidents and accidents, injuries, fatalities, weather conditions, lighting conditions, and roadway), and Financial (fare box recovery, budget, and cost efficiency).
Keith (PalmTran) challenged the group with the question, “What will it take for your agency to perform like an orchestra, with different instruments coming together to make a beautiful sound?” “Are we be able to orchestrate our agency’s success?” He provided an organizational Culture Change chart, and reminded the group it all begins with the Mission and Vision of the organization. He demonstrated the PalmTran chart system showing how the “balanced” scorecard captures the objective, metric, actual, target, and status. The PalmTran dashboard uses a traffic light icon. Red equals the minimum has not been met, Yellow indicates the metric is at or above the minimum but not at the target, and Green shows the target has been met or exceeded. The KPI committee outlined recommended standardized KPIs to be measured (adjustable to agency size) to determine measurement methods, obtain FDOT approval to move forward, and develop training and implementation program.
Transit Research Inspection Procurement Services (TRIPS)
Bill Mayer (CUTR)
Bill gave a report of the annual vehicle purchase statistics for 2016 and 2017. He noted that TRIPS currently has three types of vehicles available through various vendors (Cutaway contracts: 6 vendors utilizing 7 manufacturers, Minibus contracts: 3 vendors utilizing 3 manufacturers, and Minivan contract: 1 vendor utilizing 1 manufacturer). There is currently a RFP for medium duty buses. The medium duty bus contract award is anticipated late-spring 2018.
Additionally, TRIPS and the Florida Transit Maintenance Consortium (FTMC) are assisting FPTA/JTA with the specifications and warranty sections of their heavy duty bus contract which is anticipated to be awarded in fall 2018.
Paul Goyette, Chair
Paul (LeeTran) shared that the training committee, working in conjunction with and approval from FDOT, has issued and reviewed results of transit training needs assessment. The committee identified operational and safety training needs, and recommend priority training topics for consideration by FDOT. “The Art of Defusing Conflict: De-Escalation Techniques for Transit Operators” has been completed as a result of these efforts.
Moving forward in 2018, the committee will determine if standardized transit operator training is applicable. If so, it’s crucial that the committee work with all size agencies in curriculum development, determine key training needs in coordination with other FTSON committees (i.e. emergency management gaps), determine how best to provide training CBT vs ILT, and develop a small task force of instructors (similar to a strike force). The committee will contact Florida Transit Operator Trainer Training Program (FTOTTP) graduates to determine if they would be available to train others and develop training programs for the state.
Paul called for the creation of a FTSON taskforce to identify training needs and set priorities.
Substance Abuse Management Update
Diana Byrnes, CUTR
Diana gave a brief overview of the SAM testing program, noting that USDOT rule 49 CFR Part 40 tells us “how” the testing must be performed. It provides the procedures for Transportation Workplace Testing, and the applicability to all transportation workplaces in the nation (transit, rail, aviation, commercial drivers, etc.) FTA rule 49 CFR Part 655 is the transit-specific rule that essentially tells us “the who and the when” of the testing program, which employers and which employees are covered by the rule, and when testing is authorized (the testing circumstances). Covered employers must comply with BOTH of the regulations.
The USDOT/FTA testing program is required if your agency is a grantee or sub-grantee (aka sub-recipient) of funding for Section 5307, 5309, 5311 (as a sub-recipient) and contractors that “stand in the shoes” of any of these funding recipients. Agencies that receive only 5310 from FDOT are exempt from the testing program and are therefore not authorized to conduct federal testing.
Diana discussed employee applicability, and the purpose of revisions to Policy. These amendments to the USDOT rule, effective January 1, 2018, demonstrate FTA’s change in interpretation of existing regulation, and clarify that the testing program is under federal (not state) authority. The revisions reduce technical language in favor of regulatory references, and simplify the policy by removing program management information and focus only on what the employees need to know.
The state SAM program is in the process of creating a handbook for employers and employees that provides greater detail about program implementation. It has also created Substance Abuse Management policy templates for the agencies. The agency can select the policy which best suits them, insert the agency name, complete the portions that are agency specific, and their policy is complete. The agency’s policy is a legal document, defendable results are the goal. Diana encouraged the agencies to ensure that you know your agency’s policy provisions, and consider providing employees with information about the semi-synthetic drugs. Stay “in the loop” by joining the Substance Abuse Management listserv at http://sam.cutr.usf.edu/resources/.
Rural/5310/Demand Response Committee
Rob Gregg, CUTR; Mike Hayes, Nassau County; and Liz Peak, Ride Solutions
The committee conducted an open forum covering topics discussed during the last 12 months. Mike (Nassau County) and Liz (Ride Solutions) provided their perspectives concerning rural and demand response services. Clearly noted was the fact that EVERYONE (all sizes of transit agencies) transports clients with special needs every day – the items discussed are not simply a rural or 5310 issue. Some of those topics included preparing for a triennial review, focusing on seniors and disabled clients, an updated list of currently available trainings, emergency evacuation of vehicles, and how to secure mobility devices.
The committee requested assistance from the entire FTSON to recommend priority issues for these committees and to seek further involvement from all Demand response service representatives. Other topics of conversation included:
- Transportation Operating Procedure (TOP) requirements
- Medicaid contractors requiring additional certifications than the state of Florida
- Planning expert to assist with stops, pull ins and pull outs
- Civil engineering assistance
- Repetitive tire failures
- Training on how to address with the vulnerabilities of individuals with special needs
- What is customer service to someone with special needs
- How to address individuals with cognitive disabilities
- Expand RTAP assistance
- Entire real of safety and security for elderly and disabled
- What happens if the operator needs to leave the vehicle and there are clients secured?
- Marketing assistance
- Ensure quarterly meetings are not scheduled when grants are due
- Rural CTC for dummies
- State Management Plan for dummies
- Survival handbook guide for small and rural agencies
- Rural CTC for dummies
- State Management Plan for dummies
- Survival handbook guide for small and rural agencies
Mike and Liz expressed their appreciation for being included in the conversation and committee activities of the FTSON.
Emergency Management Committee
Jim Egbert, MCAT and Theo Bakomihalis, PSTA
The committee, in conjunction with and approval from FDOT, is currently in the process of updating agency emergency contact lists. With FDOT’s concurrence, advisement, and support, the committee is developing a Florida Emergency Management Pocket Guide. The guide would identify different types of emergencies, an updated contact list w/Regional EOCs, alternate routes for use by transit agency’s during evacuations, and a sample memorandum of understanding (MOU) to use with EOCs and other agencies utilized during an emergency.
The committee will develop proposed best practices for response, recovery, and mitigation for review by others. They will review national safety and security issues, and generate/create a pocket guidebook. It was noted there are numerous types of mutual aid agreements and assistance agreements. They include but are not limited to Automatic Mutual Aid, Local Mutual Aid, Regional Mutual Aid, Statewide/Intrastate Mutual Aid, Interstate Agreements, International Agreements, and other International Agreements. The committee has already collected MOUs form several states in the southeast. Most states have a statewide MOU for use with FEMA, as opposed to one specifically for transit.
Operator and Passenger Safety Committee
Jafari Bowden, Co-chair
The committee has been working in conjunction with and approval from FDOT, and is pleased to report that last year’s focus resulted in the CBT/ILT operator safety training entitled “The Art of Defusing Conflict: De-Escalation Techniques for Transit Operators”. The training is available to all Florida transit agencies through the LMS at www.transportationlearning.org.
The 2018 recommendations from the committee includes best practices guidance for reduction of passenger incidents and developing standardized metrics data system to compare each agency’s performance and inspire improvement. They believe that if we adopt the FTSON recommended incident tracking system as a primary or supplemental means of collecting and analyzing slips, trips, and falls, we will see a reduction in incidents. This can be as easy as adding one column to your tracking spreadsheets and inserting the proper code at the same time incidents are being recorded.
Other recommendations include developing a kneeling policy, passenger boarding protocol, train operators to be aware of passenger’s agility, train for the use of ramps, lifts, and wheelchair securement, use automated speaker systems, operator information sharing, a continuous safety awareness video in driver breakroom
The committee wants to continue working with the KPI committee goals. Jafari (PalmTran) stressed how important it is to get buy in/participation from the agency accountable executives. Sample performance metrics demonstrates shows that Florida has a lot of opportunity to improve passenger safety. Agencies need to get their team on board for standardized reporting, communicating performance to key leaders, and training to your weakness.
Closing remarks were given and the meeting was adjourned at 3:45pm.