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Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit:
2002 Conditions and Performance Report

Chapter 20: Federal Safety Initiatives
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Index
Introduction
Highlights
Executive Summary
Part I: Description of Current System
Ch1: The Role of Highways and Transit
Ch2: System and Use Characteristics
Ch3: System Conditions
Ch4: Operational Performance
Ch5: Safety Performance
Ch6: Finance

Part II: Investment Performance Analyses
Ch7: Capital Investment Requirements
Ch8: Comparison of Spending and Investment Requirements
Ch9: Impacts of Investment
Ch10: Sensitivity Analysis

Part III: Bridges
Ch11: Federal Bridge Program Status of the Nation's Bridges

Part IV: Special Topics
Ch12: National Security
Ch13: Highway Transportation in Society
Ch14: The Importance of Public Transportation
Ch15: Macroeconomic Benefits of Highway Investment
Ch16: Pricing
Ch17: Transportation Asset Management
Ch18: Travel Model Improvement Program
Ch19: Air Quality
Ch20: Federal Safety Initiatives
Ch21: Operations Strategies
Ch22: Freight

Part V: Supplemental Analyses of System Components
Ch23: Interstate System
Ch24: National Highway System
Ch25: NHS Freight Connectors
Ch26: Highway-Rail Grade Crossings
Ch27: Transit Systems on Federal Lands

Appendices
Appendix A: Changes in Highway Investment Requirements Methodology
Appendix B: Bridge Investment/Performance Methodology
Appendix C: Transit Investment Condition and Investment Requirements Methodology
List of Contacts

Transit Safety Programs

FTA has six programs designed to work continuously to improve the safety and security of the Nation's transit systems: (1) Modal Safety; (2) Information Sharing/Technical Assistance; (3) Training Education; (4) Substance Abuse; (5) Security and (6) Data Collection and Analysis. Additionally, FTA works to improve safety through the Department's Intelligent Vehicle Initiative.

Modal Safety Program

The Modal Safety Program has three key components:

  • Rail Fixed Guideway
  • Railroad
  • Bus

The Rail Fixed Guideway component of the Modal Safety Program was implemented in 1995, when FTA published a final rule requiring States with fixed guideway systems to designate an independent oversight agency to oversee the safety of rail systems not regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Currently 22 States and 36 systems are included in this program, but this number will change as new systems are opened. FTA audits the affected States for compliance with the rule and provides technical assistance.

The Railroad component consists of an ongoing coordination program with FRA on issues that affect the transit industry. FTA participates with FRA in the development of shared track and shared corridor safety standards as well as the granting of waivers for shared track operations. FTA is a member of the Rail Safety Advisory Committee for matters relating to commuter railroads. Three subprograms under the railroad component are (1) Railroad Grade Crossing Safety; (2) Rail Vehicle and Materials Safety; and (3) Train Control Centers Safety.

Under the Railroad Grade Crossing Safety subprogram, FTA demonstrates, evaluates, and deploys innovative grade crossings technologies. The strategic deployment of these technologies enhances transit's ability to: alert motorists and pedestrians of oncoming trains; improve passive and active warning signs and signals for light rail and commuter rail transit develop cost-effective off-track train presence detection systems; and assess safety data to determine target areas for technology enhancements. As shown in Exhibit 20-2, the percentage of highway-rail intersections under electronic surveillance increased from 5 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2000, and is expected to continue to climb.

Highway-Rail Intersections Under Electronic Surveillance
Click here for text description of this exhibit.

Under the Rail Vehicles Materials Safety subprogram, FTA is working with FRA to develop fire safety standards (flammability and smoke emissions) for materials used in the interior of rail vehicles and to test these standards. FTA is also working with the Interagency Fire and Materials Working Group of the Federal government to produce uniform fire performance guidelines for any materials that may be used by government agencies. This effort includes testing new composites that may be considered for use in new railcars and buses.

Under the Train Control Centers subprogram, FTA is working with FRA to assess the adequacy of rail control centers for rail transit systems operating on rights-of-way with freight and intercity passenger services. FTA is in the process of evaluating control centers' equipment and personnel, focusing on the effectiveness of these centers during peak times. Additional work burdens will fall on control centers with the expansion of commuter service on freight railroad rights-of-way.

The Bus component of FTA's modal safety program is comprised two parts. The Bus Testing Program ensures that deficiencies in new bus models are corrected before being put into revenue service. Since its implementation, this program has successfully identified more than 4,000 malfunctions ranging from minor problems to serious design deficiencies. A stateľof-the-art facility in Altoona, PA, has tested 150 new bus models since 1992. In 1998, FTA initiated the Modal Transit Bus Safety and Security Program. This program established the core safety and security program elements that all transit bus agencies should implement. These core program elements are security, driver/employee selection, driver/employee training, vehicle maintenance, drug and alcohol abuse programs and safety data acquisition and analysis.

Information Sharing and Technical Assistance Program

FTA's Information Sharing and Technical Assistance Program includes a clearinghouse that is the focal point for all requests for information, materials and resources currently available on transit safety, security, and related technologies; a transit safety and security website describing ongoing programs and new initiatives; and technical assistance, guidelines, and newsletters on safety issues.

Training and Education

FTA provides safety and security training to the transit industry through the Transportation Safety Institute, the National Transit Institute and the Volpe Center. The curriculum includes courses such as: Transit Workplace Safety and Security: System Security Awareness for Transit Employees and Security Incident Management for Transit Supervisors; Effectively Managing Transit Emergencies; Transit Rail Accident Investigation; Transit Rail System Safety; Fundamentals of Bus Accident Investigation and Substance Abuse Management. Through the Transit Safety Institute, FTA has provided training to over 70,000 transit industry employees since 1971, including more than 23,000 since 1998. Through the National Transit Institute, FTA has conducted three Workplace Safety and Security train-the-trainer courses in FY 2002 and has four additional courses planned in FY 2002, as well as three FY 2003 sessions. In FY 2002, through the Volpe Center, FTA conducted 13 drug and alcohol seminars, drawing over 1,100 people.

Substance Abuse Program

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Act of 1991 authorized the U.S. Department of Transportation to mandate substance abuse management for safety-sensitive employees in the transit industry. In February 1994, FTA published final drug and alcohol testing regulations for transit employers. FTA is responsible for implementing these regulations and auditing the compliance of transit operators with these rules. As of July 29, 2002, FTA has conducted 126 audits since the inception of the drug and alcohol audit program in 1997. Thirty-eight audits are scheduled for FY 2002.

Security Review Program

Between February 1997 and July 2002, FTA conducted 59 Security Reviews and 20 follow-up Security Reviews of transit agencies. Security reviews are independent security and emergency management reviews of transit agencies plans, procedures, and training to ensure the highest level of transit system security against major crimes and acts of terrorism, and to assess the ability to quickly and effectively respond to the consequences of a critical emergency incident. Specifically, the reviews have included an evaluation of the:

  • Transit agency system security program, including plan and procedures
  • Threat and vulnerability assessment (TVA) process used
  • Emergency management plan and response procedures
  • Countermeasures to transit crimes and terrorism
  • Training of transit personnel in security and emergency response procedures
  • Training of emergency response personnel in transit operations and procedures
  • Coordination of emergency response agencies with the transit agency during an emergency incident

Based on the review, FTA makes recommendations to the transit agency to mitigate vulnerabilities and improve emergency response capabilities.

FTA security programs are discussed in more detail in Chapter 12.

Data Collection and Analysis Program

All transit agencies must submit safety and security data into the FTA National Transit Database Safety and Security Module. This data on transit safety and security is published annually in the Transit Safety and Security Report (formerly the Safety Management Information Statistics Report). It provides FTA and the transit industry with a basis for identifying key safety concerns as well as possible solutions. FTA has extended its efforts by collecting transit vehicle accident and incident causal data through the State Safety Oversight Annual Reporting requirement and the February 2002 revision of the National Transit Database, which expands the range of causal data collected and the frequency of its reporting.

Intelligent Vehicle Initiative

FTA is also working to improve safety through the DOT's Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI). Among the elements under investigation are precision docking systems and collision warning systems. Precision docking systems will allow buses to be automatically maneuvered into a loading zone or maintenance area, allowing easier access for passengers and more efficient maintenance operations. Collision warning systems will help the bus driver and surrounding vehicle drivers operate their vehicles more efficiently.


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