The Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) quarterly meeting was held on September 27, 2018 at CUTR in Tampa, Florida. The meeting was formally called to order by Stephen Berry and Rob Gregg (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 regarding emergency exits and CPR/AED were provided. There were 34 in attendance; a sign-in sheet of the meeting is attached.
Committee Reports by Committee Chairs – Goals and Objectives
Bus Collisions: Rear-end Lights and Applications – Stephen Wachtler (CUTR)
Stephen Wachtler reported that the national profile for motor bus collisions, comprised of all 50 states and U.S. territories, was used to determine the total number of bus collisions, and the total number of rear-ended collisions. Collisions were between 3,100 and 3,300 from 2008 through 2011, then increasing to 3,696 in 2012. Rear-ended collisions ranged from a low of 633 in 2008 to a high of 722 in 2009, or approximately 20 percent of total collisions. As a percentage of total collisions, rear-ended collisions ranged from a low of 33.5 percent in 2008 to a high of 42.9 percent in 2009.
The Florida state highway system transit safety study demonstrated the major cause of accidents with public transit vehicles was inattentive and careless driving on the part of automobile operators. The most serious accidents resulting in injuries near transit stops occurred when automobile operators rear-ended a bus. Most transit systems surveyed have evaluated and implemented (installed) lighting on the rear of buses to alert automobile operators. In 2008, the FTA modified its accident reporting requirements within the National Transit Database to require more detailed information about transit bus accidents.
These Florida transit properties have light programs: LYNX, JTA, Palm Tran, Star Metro, Lakeland Area Mass Transit, Sarasota County Area Transit, Bay Town Trolley, and Broward County. It was noted that Yield-to-Bus markings and lighting on the rear of buses vary in effectiveness. Agencies with active lighting/markings rather than decals reported better satisfaction with program, but the public education component for motorists and transit operators is necessary for success of Yield-to-Bus program.
In 2001, Analysis of Florida Transit Bus Crashes was produced by the National Center for Transit Research at the CUTR. This report reviewed actual transit accident data from select transit agencies within the state of Florida, with an emphasis on agencies that had recently implemented various transit safety training/bus marking/lighting programs. The report reviewed existing crash data from the agencies prior to implementation of training/bus marking programs, and compared it to subsequent crash data from the agency, which followed a period of bus operator refresher training or installation of bus rear-lighting mechanisms within the agency.
While the study could not conclusively determine that bus operator refresher training led to decrease in total overall crashes, the installation of high density lighting on the rear of the bus led to over a 7 percent decline in rear-end collisions within the transit agency.
From the transit agency’s perspective, the primary defensive driving techniques operators can employ are in the moments leading up to a rear-ended collision. These would include turning on signals, turning on 4-way stop lights, maintaining a safe following distance, and appropriately pulling up to the stop. In essence, operators can give drivers behind them as much warning as possible that the bus is coming to a stop. Recommendations were to change current bus specifications to include larger LED lights from the current 7-inch lights that are available, strobe lights (which have produced positive results in reducing rear-ended collisions), and inspect rear bus exteriors to ensure that paint schemes and graphics do not create visual distractions.
When flashing red, “Stop” signs are used, the operator should be trained to depress the break upon initial deceleration to provide the maximum warning to vehicles behind the bus that it will be coming to a stop. Charts were presented to demonstrate the impacts of rear-end collisions. A variety of pictures showing different rear light placements on transit vehicles were shown. These Florida statutes were discussed:
316.234 Signal lamps and signal devices: (1) Any vehicle may be equipped and, when required under this chapter, shall be equipped with a stop lamp or lamps on the rear of the vehicle which shall display a red or amber light, visible from a distance of not less than 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight, and which shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake, and which may but need not be incorporated with one or more other rear lamps. An object, material, or covering that alters the stop lamp’s visibility from 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight may not be placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied over a stop lamp.
316.235(5) A bus may be equipped with a deceleration lighting system that cautions following vehicles that the bus is slowing, is preparing to stop, or is stopped. Such lighting system shall consist of red or amber lights mounted in horizontal alignment on the rear of the vehicle at the vertical centerline of the vehicle, no greater than 12 inches apart, not higher than the lower edge of the rear window or, if the vehicle has no rear window, not higher than 100 inches from the ground. Such lights shall be visible from a distance of not less than 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight. Lights are permitted to light and flash during deceleration, braking, or standing and idling of the bus. Vehicular hazard warning flashers may be used in conjunction with or in lieu of a rear-mounted deceleration lighting system.
FDOT/CUTR Training Program Development
Juan Battle (CUTR)
Transit Program Manager Juan Battle (CUTR) shared that a catalog of all training opportunities available (computer-based and instructor-led classroom) has been developed. Hard copies and electronic versions of the catalog will be available in late October. He also gave an update on currently scheduled transit training courses. A range of topics including Supervisor Certification, Procurement, Substance Abuse, rural transit, and Project Easter Seals were included. Additionally, operator training for large, small and rural transit agencies is available. Offerings on the topics of emergency management, conflict, distracted driving, and Rule Chapter 14-90 are available.
Juan spoke about the fluidity of the training calendar, and encouraged the attendees to bring their ideas and observations to training discussions. In order to allow the training program to provide relevant training to Florida’s transit agencies, it is important to know what is working and what is not. He identified upcoming trainings will be held during November 2018 through March 2019. They are National RTAP START, Supervisor Certification, Fundamentals of Bus Collision Investigation, Instructor’s Course for Transit Trainers, Transit System Security, and Effectively Managing Transit Emergencies. Juan addressed training for FDOT Districts and Consultants. He will be meeting with the Districts on a quarterly basis. A new aspect of the training program will be to review and analyze trends found during agency compliance system safety and security reviews. We will adopt and use best practices, distribute materials and resources for agencies and districts, and respond to requests for technical assistance routed through the District Offices and CUTR. Juan opened the floor for any comments, requests or suggestions for training.
Working Lunch – Roundtable Discussion of Issues and Happenings with Agencies
Moderated by Stephen Berry
Attendees had a lively working lunch discussing items presented in the meeting thus far, as well as current events and happenings at their agencies.
Equipment and Operational Safety Standards for Bus Transit Systems: F.A.C. Rule Chapter 14-90 Discussion
Bobby Westbrook, FDOT; and Stephen Berry, CUTR
Bobby (FDOT) posed several questions to the network. What will F.A.C. Rule Chapter 14-90 look like in the future and what does the current statewide compliance effort look like regarding F.A.C. Rule Chapter 14-90? Some of the SSPP items relevant to 5307/5311 include certification requirements, SSPP/contractors and subs, data analysis, and records retention. Additional items included security data and analysis, approved plans, emergency management process/procedures, and investigation of events.
Steve (CUTR) spoke about trends of missing items in 5310 TOPs which include site specific information (32 agencies), missing verified/copy of CDL on file (13 agencies), and missing elements of driver’s training (20+ agencies). Distracted driver training is typically absent, and training on vehicle equipment, familiarization and inspections are commonly missing.
Absence of a Wireless Communication Plan, accident investigations policies, and Drug Free Workplace policies are among the most common issues missing in the TOP. It was stressed, “The major focus of system safety is to integrate risk management into the overall system engineering process rather than addressing hazards as day-to-day operational considerations.” Source: www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/safety
Some of the questions of the near future Florida agencies should think about include what does the FTA Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) final rule mean?, how does the PTASP effective date of July 19, 2019 effect my agency?, and am I considered a deferred property from PTASP if I receive 5310/5311 FTA funds? Ultimately, does the effort surround the principles of SMS?
Emergency Management Coordination
John Lanthan (FDOT); James Egbert (MCAT); and Rino Saliceto and Roberta Yegidis (CUTR)
There are five phases of emergency management are: Preparation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation. John (FDOT) showed that the majority of time and effort is during the response phase. It is critical that all departments involved with emergency management work via an Incident Command System (ICM).
ICM is a fundamental element of incident management providing standardization through consistent terminology and established organizational structures. He provided lists of the three types of emergencies: man-made, natural, and technical.
According to 14-90 FAC, the agency SSP and Emergency Management Plan must address the following hazard and security elements and requirements:
- Security policies, goals and objectives
- Organization, roles and responsibilities
- Emergency management processes and procedures for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery
- Procedures for investigation of events described under subsection 14-90.004(5), F.A.C.
- Procedures for the establishment of interfaces with emergency response organizations
- Procedures for interagency coordination with local law enforcement jurisdictions
- Employee security and threat awareness training programs
- Security data acquisition and analysis
- Emergency preparedness drills and exercises
- Requirements for private contract transit providers that engage in continuous or recurring transportation services for compensation as a result of a contractual agreement with the bus transit system
- Procedures for SPP maintenance and distribution, including prohibition of disclosure per Section 119.071(3)(a), Florida Statutes
Procedures for interfacing with emergency response organizations and local law enforcement should be included. Employee training for security and threat awareness is also required. Rino Saliceto (CUTR) spoke about common findings by the FDOT Bus System Safety and Security Review team. Among those commonalities are SSP’s are not agency specific, types of emergencies are generalized, policies, investigations, and analysis are missing, agency training and interagency coordination is lacking, and often the SPP does not flow through to transit contractor. The overall compliance effort with SPP may be under-utilized.
Successful SSPs include items/plans that are specific to transit system, and its unique needs. They offer processes for investigations, analysis, and the use of data to correct issues. The plan should connect accountability with contractors. Roberta Yegidis (CUTR) encouraged a roundtable discussion of what are agencies looking for with suggestions of best practices and the challenges. An emergency management open discussion ensued. Items addressed were:
- What is your transit agencies role in providing ESF #1 support during emergencies?
- How do you effectively utilize contractor transit services?
- How often should you train and for what types of events?
- How do we remedy staffing issues during an event?
Closing Remarks were given by Stephen Berry and Rob Gregg (CUTR). The meeting adjourned at 3:41 p.m.