June 23, 2021 | 2:00pm to 3:30pm
The Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) meeting was held remotely on Thursday, June 24, 2021 via Adobe Connect. Meeting facilitators were Ashley Porter and Tony Brandin, FDOT; Paul Goyette, CUTR; Jafari Bowden, LYNX (FTSON Chair); and Jim Egbert, MCAT (FTSON Co-chair).
The meeting was called to order by FTSON Program Manager Paul Goyette (CUTR), who welcomed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representatives Elizabeth Stutts, Robert Westbrook, Tony Brandin, Erin Schepers, and Ashley Porter. There were 54 FTSON members, guests and teleconference participants in today’s meeting.
The floor was opened for FDOT comments before the meeting agenda began. Discussion for the Mobility Vision Action Plan followed. A statewide meeting will be held in Tampa on August 4, 2021 to provide insight of the new vision and pathway of connecting the state with different types of transportation – new styles, new modes and new partnerships. Information regarding the meeting will be forthcoming.
Small Agency Focus
The FTSON is creating an outreach Hiring and Staffing package is being assembled to provide transit newcomers insight to FDOT programs and resources. It will feature quasi-training and technical assistance available to the agencies provided by the state through CUTR, Lively Tech, COTA, FTSON Network, TMAARC, STTT and RTAP. This ’welcome package’ will allow those who are new to transit to have comprehensive means to information, resources and assistance in meeting agency requirements and needs. This resource will be available to all agencies and District staff.
Paul opened the floor to Florida’s small agencies (5310 and 5311), allowing them to speak freely on current challenges, needed resources, and training needs. This may include hiring/staffing challenges, CDL licensing, hiring incentives, and succession planning. The agencies were asked how the best method to attend or receive training, and specifically how can FTSON assist? Small agencies are encouraged to take advantage of the current, relevant programs and resources available to them through FDOT.
FTSON Meeting Focus Priority List
The FTSON will tackle identified items based upon a upon priority list. The initial list will focus the small agency and utilize technical assistance based on COTA reviews and Safety, Operational and Maintenance plans. It is better to educate, not regulate.
PARC Presentation on Samsara for Passenger Transit
An informative presentation was given by PARC Transportation of Pinellas County regarding the Samsara for Passenger Transit system. PARC presenters Fabio Galati and Robin Simmons (PARC Transit Coordinator) had positive examples and words of praise for the Samsara system and the benefits it is providing PARC. Samsara is a connected operations cloud platform that integrates real-time sensor data to improve customer service, visibility, and safety for transit operations.
The electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) digital system captures trip sheet information, pinpoints location of vehicle, records miles driven per vehicle and annotates arrival and departure times. It allows for tracking the fleet in real time, giving live ETA updates to your customers, provides fuel and vehicle diagnostics, and streamlines communication from the office to the field. The system is easy to install and simplifies compliance in a centralized dashboard. Pre- and post-trip reports are generated electronically creating paperless recordkeeping (DVIR). The on-board cameras are used as security, and minimal operator training; the camera allows for the agency to correct operator errors in real time. The camera also allows for feedback to encourage and reward positive operator reinforcement.
Tony Brandin (FDOT) expressed appreciation for this valuable information. Fabio and Robin fielded questions from the audience after the presentation. Questions included the price tag for the system, are there monthly fees for the WIFI, who sets the scoring parameters of the system, who installs the system, who is the system monitored, and how often are updates required and what is the cost of the system updates? Fabio and Robin were able to respond accordingly to all questions, and thanked FDOT for the opportunity to share information about a system that greatly helps this small system in so many ways.
Safety Performance Targets Discussion
A brief discussion was conducted regarding new requirements of safety performance and PTASP methodology for smaller agencies. CUTR is able to provide technical assistance to anyone who may need aid with their PTASP/SMS. The PTASP/SMS is a living document, it is critical to document how the agency implements the SMS plan. No matter the size of your agency, all elements must be included. All state requirements (SSPP) are still in existence, and they should be added to the SMS/PTASP. There is an SMS/PTASP Toolkit located on the FTSON website at https://ftson.org/sms-ptasp-toolkit/.
Catalytic Converter incidents, Discussion on Hazard/Risk Assessment, Security Protocols
A general discussion was held regarding recent thefts of catalytic converters from parked vehicles in Lake and Baker counties. County representatives shared their experiences with the FTSON. Tony (FDOT) stated this type of activity is occurring across the country. Ashley (FDOT) added that vandalism is also on the rise.
Agencies should be mindful of the recent thefts and consider other items that could be accessed and stolen. It is thought the targeted thefts are for the valuable metals. Rhodium and other precious metals found in the stolen vehicle parts are easily sold on social media sites. It appears vehicles higher off the ground (i.e. paratransit) are most vulnerable. Law enforcement has been called in, but no arrests have been made.
Agencies should conduct a threat and vulnerability assessment (TVA) and review security practices, schedules, personnel, etc. CUTR can assist with agency TVAs and other security recommendations.
To be noted, agencies should always notify FDOT of any activities related to theft of property. These experiences in Lake and Baker counties are warning shots of what may become a trend, and agencies should be cognizant of potential higher risks of thefts. Discussion occurred on various ways to secure catalytic converters (from welding rebar to market applications such as CatStraps). Other prevention ideas such as painting the catalytic converter with neon paint and applying the VIN number on the converter were shared. Tony (FDOT) shared that the new TRIPS contracts will allow purchasing for catalytic converter security devices.
Need we say more… hurricane season is here and Florida’s transit agencies should be prepared. Hurricane season in the Atlantic lasts from June to November and peaks between August and October. Agencies should check their equipment and prepare for severe weather emergencies now. Determine any potential risks to your property, and update your emergency plans and supplies before Florida is threatened by a storm. It’s important to stay prepared before and after a storm. Assemble your Emergency Management staff and create a current contact list, provide current road maps of your community as GPS is not always available after a storm, conduct a needs assessment for your agency, set re-occurring meetings to discuss preparations, and actions of Response and Recovery. Everyone was invited to participate in the upcoming webinar entitled “Emergency Management Tabletop Exercises for Small and Rural Transit Agencies” on June 28 (registration required).
There was no new business to discuss.
A special acknowledgement of the support and direction of the Florida Department of Transportation was expressed. The meeting was adjourned at 3:28pm.