The Florida Transit Safety and Operations Network (FTSON) meeting was held on March 3, 2020 at CUTR in Tampa, Florida. The meeting was called to order by Paul Goyette (CUTR), who welcomed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representative Ashley Porter. Individual introductions of FTSON members and guests continued. Paul Goyette provided facility information and an emergency/safety briefing to the visitors.
Update on Coronavirus
Paul Goyette started out the meeting with a COVID-19 briefing. He indicated it is most likely going to spread, with some agencies using their 2009 pandemic swine flu plan. CDC guidance is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. When it comes to disinfecting buses on a daily basis, most agencies are doing the best that can be done. If you are sick, stay home. Plan to have wipes on bus so that operators can wash down areas, if they choose to. APTA will have a webinar on Thursday addressing this issue. LeeTran has developed a plan, working with their local EOC to potentially use the Zimac machine used by most EMS organizations to clean their vehicles. This process takes approximately 15 minutes per vehicle to fog and disinfect. The FTSON will need to ensure that we share information, which Paul Goyette will ensure is disseminated throughout the state. Manatee is following the CDC guidelines and is working on controlling employees’ concerns. Some are spraying buses with hydrogen peroxide, noting that the longest life for the virus seems to be on metal surfaces for nine days and at the right temperature. Media requests are starting to increase regarding what transit agencies are doing to be prepared. Make sure your agency response follows your policy on who they should speak with reporters or others outside of your agency. There are three phases – protection of agency, people and response – how will transportation be impacted if required to respond? What type of gear will operators involved be required to wear? Make sure that your Continuity of Operations Plan is up to date in case operators are ill. What operators will be involved? We recommend that you go to Center for Disease Control and follow their advice. Agency’s may want to provide operators hand sanitizers to give them a feeling of comfort. Paratransit vans should already have these items on board. Communicate with employees on what steps you are taking to protect them. Dialogue has begun on the FTSON listserv and CUTR will collect all information and share it.
Operator shortages were discussed along with prioritizing routes, utilizing temporary staff, flexing operators etc… Most importantly, we need to continue to talk about it and share information. We are carrying the masses – we need to be prepared.
FTSON Charter Overview
Paul Goyette began by explaining the purpose and scope of the new FTSON charter and how it closely emulates the maintenance consortium charter. Paul Goyette indicated that we would like to discuss and approve the proposed charter today. All agreed that is was a great idea and looking forward to working on it and having a more formalized structure to the FTSON. Paul Goyette indicated the charter is a living document, we can adjust wording, except for the portions that are in our state contract. We can have a conference call to discuss any proposed changes. Please keep in mind that this is similar to the maintenance charter. We will have a chair and co-chair from among transit agencies, understanding that CUTR is here to facilitate. There will be things that the state wants, which we will prioritize. We want this to be a network where people can bring challenges for the group to work on.
PTASP is an example of one item. We will work with agencies to assist them, when needed. As the group members come up with ideas, they chair may not have expertise on a specific topic. Under the new charter the Chair and/or the Project Managers can assemble ad-hoc committees to assist with detailed work relating to the specific topics. Topics may need subject matter experts, as well as other members and assistance from the agencies, all of whom are members, to determine response. Also, each agency needs to determine who the voting member will be. If you are not a Florida agency, you can participate, but not vote. If you are a Florida agency you are automatically a voting member. Are FDOT or county people allowed to vote? No – the network may adopt an idea and you can may multiple people from one agency participate, but only the designated member will have voting authority. There will be a form, requiring the managers authorization, for an individual to be the voting member. Normally, three people from one agency may participate in the discussion; however, each agency only has one vote. We can adjust wording as necessary. As an example; Minimum Requirements for Preventative Maintenance was developed by the maintenance consortium and we may want to do the same thing on the safety and operations side. Agencies should consider who from their agency they want to be representing them at the FTSON. We need to have a mission, priority list of issues, timelines and deliverables for most work that the FTSON is involved in. We also believe it is important to include maintenance team members when possible to keep communications open across all State sponsored networks. Paul Goyette indicated to the network to be cognizant of prioritizing any request from the State to ensure that FDOT items are heard and that we establish deliverables. Group agreed to move forward with charter, voting of officers will be done at June FTSON meeting.
Utilizing FTSON Social Media
Paul Goyette indicated that we want to be the network that provides information throughout the state. If your agency is developing something new and innovative, please share and we will get it out on social media. Have your social media add us to your press release so that we can be linked to you. We are trying to build our social network, articles are being shared through the listserv, are duplicated the on FTSON Facebook page. As long as you are a member, you can send information back and forth, if it is issued by Paul Goyette or Steph, please hit reply all to ensure that everyone is included. If you need to be added to the listserv, please let Stephanie Lewis know. Agenda and handouts are on the home page and after each meeting is over, everything will be moved to the activity page. This will be the repository for everything. PTASP template will also be included on listserv. Responses to listserv are almost immediate. Steph tries to send items to all listservs and tries to ensure you are only receiving one notification. You can also search by topic, so make sure that your topic includes what you are really looking for. You can go into listserv and search repository first to see if there are information already available. If you cannot find something, call Paul Goyette or Steph for assistance. This can be for everybody, not just FTSON. Can we do LinkedIn? We are looking in that.
PTASP and SMS Approaching Deadline
Paul Goyette indicated he has been working with a few transit agencies getting their plans together. If you would like to send your PTASP to Paul Goyette, he will review and return with mockups. Remember, your PTASP will be a living document that will improve as time goes on and triennial reviews are completed. SMS is a living system of safety management. The agency safety plan is the document that supports your SMS. We have templates online; however, it needs to be agency specific. If we provide you with a basic plan template, remember it will not cover everything. If you need assistance developing your plan contact us and we will assist. We have sample plans that you might be able to use. Paul Goyette indicated that working with Hernando County through conference calls, mocking up their draft has been a great experience, and they have developed a solid plan.
Ashley Porter discussed how some agencies have inquired regarding the state plan. Ashley related to the group that the FTSON and CUTR’s technical assistance is what the State of Florida is using relating to developing PTASP for small 5307 properties. Paul Goyette reiterated this and indicated that he is the point of contact for assisting agencies with PTASP development for the FDOT. If you have a plan in the development process, send it to Paul Goyette, he will mark it up and work with you to ensure it is agency specific and scaled to your organization. A lot of information is already available. Paul Goyette indicated to the group that you can develop an SMS implementation plan and it is recommended that agencies do. The larger the agencies may be more complex – it is scalable to be implemented at smaller agencies also. Your Agency Safety Plan supports your SMS. What about the SSPP? Your agency safety plan will replace your SSPP – which is mostly designed to cover all of the state requirements. The state requirements still exist as the 14-90 is basically the same. You need to remove all references to the SSPP, because the PTASP will includes all of the SSPP elements, in addition to other items. At the end, have a section that addresses the State of Florida elements, take the 14-90 required elements and ensure you have county and or federal regulations included, where applicable. Put the state requirements at the end of the plan, so that updates are easier. Agencies that utilize contractors will need to make certain that their ASP indicates collaboration with and requirements for the contractors. Remember to document any analysis relating to hazards and risk assessments so that you can develop proposed corrective actions. The Feds want you to mitigate, and the only way is to use a hazard risk assessment, resolutions and severity analysis. Rule 14-90, FAC does not include everything related to SMS for example the planning process, the fiscal process that has a lot to do with safety and relates TAM and SGR but is not covered within the Rule 14-90, FAC. Everyone in your agency needs to be involved in SMS. You need to have SOP’s for all areas of transit, not just safety sensitive. SMS and PTASP require an accountable executive, who needs to champion the agencies SMS and sign the document. During an audit, when and if issues are discovered which may require funding, the accountable executive has the authorization to approve funding for proposed corrective actions relating to shortfalls in safety. The person at the top owns it. We understand that this culture shift will not happen overnight, but we need to continue to show movement towards SMS and PTASP goals. The first area that needs to be addressed is that the accountable executive, he/she needs to understand what is being rolled out. Communicate agency wide SMS needs and assessment and gain buy-in.
The Compliance Oversight and Technical Assistance team also has to adjust the way they doing reviews to include more than a checklist, they will need to conduct interviews to ensure the SMS process is being followed. We may be interviewing during all hours of operation. We need to do a reset – a culture shift.
Federal websites have SMS/PTASP toolkits and remember it is not complicated once you dig in. Once you start working on the process, it will become easier. Just a different look at safety.
New State Compliance Oversight Elements
Interviews are now being conducted in lieu of checklists, as previously discussed. DRAFT Rule 14-90, FAC (New Revision and Direction) – FDOT is still working on a plan. The thought is that it needs to support the federal rule. If we are implementing SMS correctly, then everything will come together, not just what is written in Rule 14-90, FAC. We need to have a more holistic and predictive approach to safety within the organizations. We need to be working towards agencies conducting hazard/risk analysis within areas of their business based on probability and severity of occurrence relating to changes that impact safety. The current Rule 14-90, FAC only provides minimum requirements and is not inclusive of all elements of SMS. The new Federal requirements for TAM, SGR and SMS were developed to allow these programs to work in conjunction and harmony with each other recognizing that resources can/should be allocated where needed based on safety prioritization. Rule 14-90, FAC will require changes, as it is limited. Please keep in mind that Rule 14-90, FAC is a small and narrow part of what areas you should be including. Hazard risk analysis should be considered for most changes, safety events as well as other organizational issues. You should be evaluating all areas of your agency, not only what is included in Rule 14-90, FAC. Did a hazard risk analysis to determine that the hours of driving for operators is safe? As we know, there are both federal and state medical exam forms, both of which are different. If you are using Federal form, have you done an analysis to ensure it works for you. Rule 14-90, FAC has not been revised, as of this time. This is under discussion and you need to conduct a hazard risk analysis to anything you adopt.
Drug and alcohol is iron clad, CFR Part 40 has not changed, which is one of the few exemptions. FDOT intends to open review of proposed changes to Rule 14-90, FAC. FDOT is moving to an approach where there will be a heavy emphasis on data analysis. Rule 14-90, FAC is a work in progress and we are still working through it. It is easy to develop with check boxes, but not as easy when it is data driven. SMS is data driven. It is difficult to say you have a safe agency, when you cannot control hours. A control center employee who worked 80 hours a week and who is safety sensitive – what type of data does this lead to? CBA’s are based on state and federal regulations. It is better for agencies to have something to fall back on regarding hours of service. Rule 14-90, FAC will be brought to the members for review. We need to communicate with and educate everyone to understand that what agencies are doing. We need to do hazard risk analysis and should have a Safety Certification Process. FTA wants to make ensure you are doing your due diligence. Everything continuously changes, SMS should document changes and develop historical documentation supporting changes.
Use of three or more wheelchairs on cutaway vehicles, hazard/risk assessment and policy – if it more than three wheelchair locations, we have distributed a directive. We want to ensure that you have done your risk analysis to determine how to safely evacuate vehicles, if needed. We have done some training on how to evacuate people off the vehicle before it burns to the ground and want to make sure that if you are using vehicles with more than three vehicles, you have done a hazard risk analysis. Ashley noted that a few years ago FDOT noticed orders with 3+ wheelchair securement locations. FDOT conducted testing on evacuation times. A vehicle takes approximately 15 minutes to burn through, however we need to do more testing to determine how it burns. FDOT started asking those affected agencies to determine how they would evacuate individuals? Keep in mind that item will be added to our audit evaluation, as it goes along with SMS. If you introduce more wheelchair securements, the agency needs to determine how this has been addressed through a risk assessment. Does it depend on where your door locations are? Do not look for something to rubber stamp. It does not mean that everything will be perfect. One agency noted that after that exercise was conducted, reality set in. If it is an electrical issue, you have lost your lift. After the first client is evacuated using the manual lift, you will most likely have lost everyone else. The effort required to manually use lifts may result in an agencies inability to evacuate everyone on board. This agency has now changed their policy after test was done. A suggestion was made that perhaps we need to look at another way to evacuate riders, specifically on smaller vehicles, something similar to the ramp that is deployed on a U-Haul vehicle. Something needs to be designed into a cutaway to assist with wheelchair evacuations. In either case, remember to document your risk assessment.
Contracting with TNC’s
Paul Goyette indicated as an industry, we are moving more towards flexible service, doing different things to ensure that everyone is provided transportation. New mobility management, working more with micro transit, agencies need to develop plans on how to work with TNC’s. There is a state statute that goes along with the use of TNC’s, including background checks. Florida has minimum state requirements. Whether it is a private organization, or you are developing an internal system, you need to document the process, procedures and requirements. There are folks who need transit that will benefit from TNC’s, where fixed route is not available, so we need to be creative. Florida State Statute 627.748 defines minimum requirements. When you are considering contracting with these companies, make sure you are following requirements and flow down and that they are included in your SMS.
When we have a natural disaster, we want to make sure that your plan includes the COOP. As an example, what happens when the executive director is out of the country and there is no plan for the next person in line? Get ahead of this to ensure you have appropriate planning for your agency. Have a good relationship with your EOC personnel. Internally, do you have an emergency management task force prior to incoming incident? How do you get operators to respond? Coordinate and communicate with FDOT as they want to be informed of what is happening at your agency and what assistance you may need. Do you have a sound plan with your EOC? Start a mini task force to determine how best to respond. Have EVERYONE at the table. Have a pre-planning phase, what happens during the event and after the event. Have an after-action review on lessons learned.
Develop list of topics/standards for FTSON
This is your network.
Prioritize tasks – need to develop a list of topics, such as those captured from surveys. We can’t tackle everything and are moving away from committees. We need to develop a prioritized list, which might be 3, 5 or 7 items. Depends on complexity. Could be something long term, like best practices for passenger driving, barriers, operator safety, which would need more focus. We want to completely vet all projects. Need to determine the root cause of operator safety and work on research. We need to think outside the box. Maybe there is an underlying issue that we may not have looked at. The group was asked to complete check list today and leave for CUTR’s staff review.
Develop goals and a timeline for each task – depending on what we prioritize, we need to determine how long we will work on projects, with sensible guidelines.
Discuss the use Ad-Hoc Short-Term Taskforce to assist the network – CUTR will support committees, but we want SME’s to work on the project. Develop a timeline with deliverable. Need to use network that way and be more formalized so we will be able to champion topics as they are prioritized.
Need to look at retention of operators.
Drug and Alcohol, Diana Byrnes
The use of CBD, found in cannabis plant, one is marijuana and one is the hemp plant. If you are not on the Drug and Alcohol listserv, you need to sign up. A notice was issued that CBD is not a prohibited substance for safety sensitive employees. CBD is derived from hemp and is acceptable. A lot of CBD products are not regulated by FDA, so the buyer beware product. If it has THC in it and you test positive, when the medical review officer reaches out to you that you are using CBD – will not be accepted as a justifiable answer to avoid disciplinary items. Gloves being marked that were made with hemp fiber. There are many misconceptions regarding hemp products. Topical applications are OK, products that are ingested may have an issue. One driver has tested 15 – 20 products for testing, with everyone coming back positive for THC. Sheriff departments have equipment to test. “Understanding CBD and Hemp” webinar on our website. It is difficult to test for THC. Manatee has issued a letter to each employee, regarding their signature, to ensure they are aware of the potential for THC in a CBD product. If they test positive, they will be unemployed. The laboratory showing a positive will not be overturned. Is there testing in process to determine level of marijuana? If it is below the level, it will pass through. Passive inhalation would have been accounted for in the below 50 nanograms level. States with legalized marijuana are looking into a breathalyzer, which will be used by law enforcement similar to alcohol. THC would be detectable by breath, urine or blood. Supervisor training for reasonable suspicion needs to include vaping of marijuana eliminates and the scent. It was determined that 50 nanograms would be the screening cut off, by testing at UC Berkley, who tested those actually smoking versus those simply in the group to determine passive inhalation. The problem with hair testing is that different hair types, thick versus thin, would have different results. Oral fluid testing is in the future – swab mouth. The saliva testing will still go to the laboratory as it does now and include all the other protections. It takes an act of congress to change regulations. Oral fluid may be available to transit in the 2022 to 2023-time frame.
Space Coast has ADA users guide online, won an award for this and was contacted by the visually impaired users, to let them know what issues they had with it. The network could work on the areas that were missing to streamline process. After a Lawyer reviewed, a lawsuit was filed against them. Their website and email now use large font to address this issue.
LeeTran had a similar issue with bus stops compliance. They needed to provide a corrective action plan. Bus stops in Florida are far more challenging than other areas of the country.
HART – had a policy regarding employees having weapons inside their vehicles and riders carrying weapons on board.
Space Coast County Commissioners approved that all county employees had the right to bring their weapon to work.
The FTSON will have a session on operator and passenger safety. Barriers need to have due diligence on design and preparing employees. Work with employees on how to avoid confrontations. If you have a culture issue at your agency, there will always be an issue.
HART, since tragedy, is now reporting any threat, which may be showing an over reporting. Media focused on HART’s not protecting operators, even though HART had already began the process of bringing on level 5 officers for security. Be cautious as to how you report, be consistent with what you do. HART went from non-armed security to fully armed security in some areas. Ensure we have an all-inclusive discussion on issues, operator culture within an organization.
LYNX – going through operator assault awareness and providing operators the opportunity to speak. LYNX is providing the truth as to what happens if the operator versus rider becomes aggressive. When they review video of an operator assault, it resulted in the operator’s having escalated an issue. LYNX has hundreds of operator reports, you have to be held accountable that the operator could have avoided the issue. Including the union, 12 of the 14 assaults were the operator’s fault. Need to hold the operator accountable.
Need to hold management accountable. Operator comes in at 4:00AM, do they have insufficient time to do pre-trip, and can the operator maintain the route. Operator leaves bus terminal already ready to have a confrontation. When we talk about change of culture it needs to start at the top. It is not always the bus operator. Multiples sides to operator and passenger safety. Agencies that have a policy on not holding the operator accountable for fare evasion, have far less operator assaults. Barriers do not always prevent operator assaults.
Cannot train for interpersonal skills. Do not hire for ability to drive, hire them for ability to get along with others. Agencies have the responsibility to hire the appropriate personnel.
If we can reduce operator assaults to 50%, is it not worth trying something different?
The process will be to organize the process, we can market in a professional way, we need to package it correctly, rank in the appropriate manner. We worked on this for three months, we want this training, we believe that this will be effective. We need to get this topic in a formalized way, bring it to state, as we are passionate about this, we will have a better chance at being successful. If we do not do our homework and preparation, we will not be successful.
Sometimes operators need to be interactive in safety discussions to change culture from years of doing the same thing the same way.
Lisa Bacot will give us the platform and opportunity to present prioritized items, to assist in “selling” to the CEO’s.
2020 FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop & Transit Safety and Operations Summit. Save the date June 8-10, 2020. Registration will open on or around April 1, 2020. A total of 28 sessions during this year’s event.
There will be maintenance, planning, autonomous vehicles and other areas. Going back to operator and passenger safety. We are bringing in trainers for sensitivity training, diversity training, LBGTQ community, mental health training – working with Florida mental health training for operators working with Alzheimer’s and PTSD. Are agencies in Florida doing any formalized mental health training? Manatee has social worker going to transfer centers to work with homeless and other residents with challenges. One agency does 4-hour block for passenger sensitivity. PSTA is working with HART on mental health. Manatee is working on data. STAR Metro has quarterly meetings for all operators. One of the topics has been mental health awareness.
HART operator recognized that a rider, who had not gotten off the bus, had a cognitive challenge, which resulted in recognizing that this was someone who had been missing from Fort Myers.
Emergency preparedness, non-punitive employee reporting, PTASP readiness, securement, successfully navigating Corrective Action Plans, transit commuter tax benefits and TSA security training. Small and Rural round table discussion. Department of Homeland Security provides excellent training. If the group has any additional items to add to the FTSON Summit, please let Paul Goyette know.
A reminder was provided that Roadeo registration ends this week.
The meeting adjourned at 3:30pm