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64 CHAPTER FIVE SUCCESSFUL PRACTICES AND INITIATIVES FROM CASE EXAMPLES The case example agencies all approach safety within a comprehensive framework, and each agency was observed to operate within a highly functional safety culture. The practices the agencies identified as most effective are described in this chapter. CHARLOTTE AREA TRANSIT CATSâ mission is âto improve the quality of life for everyone in the greater Charlotte region by providing outstanding community-wide public transportation services while proactively contributing to focused growth and sustainable regional development.â Although CATS has always had a training program, it was overhauled 2 years ago to be more consistent and structured. The agency uses operator trainers who are certified through the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). Two key aspects of training at CATS, as reported by the interviewee, are that the training function is housed within the Office of Safety and Security, and the training is mission-driven. CATSâ video surveillance system is considered to be the most effective technology in use because it allows the agency to substantiate complaints, identify poorly performing operators, and address issues before an incident occurs. The videos are also used for training purposes, so that operators can observe practices performed correctly and those performed incorrectly. Community engagement has been successful, with outreach campaigns and strategies such as International Bus Opera- tor Appreciation Day in March, when passengers and the general public are encouraged to thank operators for all they do; a personal responsibility safety campaign in January 2016 that asked the public to take a pledge to stay alert and avoid distrac- tions; and the CATS See Say app, which enables riders to alert transit police if they notice something that seems concerning. Much of CATSâ success in this area is a result of its commitment to safety throughout the entire organization. Operations, maintenance, management, and supervisors are all completely committed to safety and keep the safety culture at the forefront of the organization. Although the rate of preventable incidents has varied, the overall monthly trend has shown a decline over the past 2 years. CITY OF MADISON METRO TRANSIT In 2008, in response to an increase in collisions recorded in 2007, Metro began the process of revamping its training curricu- lum. The agency reviewed all content used in the training programs and modernized the curriculum, focusing on local needs specific to Madison. The revamped curriculum focuses on actual driver training, transitioning to customer service only after the new operators have successfully completed the driving component of the curriculum. Metro cited the benefits of having as few as two trainees per instructor per bus, which provides more drive time for each trainee. More resources were allocated to training and were used to hire more trainers, which reduced class sizes. Metro has allocated an additional bus to the training program to ensure that each trainee gets 4 to 5 hours of behind-the-wheel time per day of training. These training improve- ments have elicited positive feedback from the operators. Metro implemented a refresher training curriculum in 2009 and requires it annually for every operator. In 2015, refresher training at Metro followed a roundtable discussion structure titled the Madison Metro Safety Roundabout. This training was designed to gather information and data directly from bus operators in order to recognize safety concerns and identify prob- lem areas. The purpose of this approach to refresher training is to develop a safety culture in the agency, which will increase accident prevention as well as company morale. Metro compiled the results from the safety roundabout and initially focused
65 training on the areas most frequently cited by operators. Additionally, routes with bad turns were changed, bus stop signs that were too close to the ADA pads were moved, and the problem of intercity buses staging in bus lanes was solved. Other hazards were addressed through safety bulletins that emphasize operator awareness. Metro staff said that the safety roundabout was regarded so highly that Wisconsin Department of Transportation representatives attended the entire session and have sug- gested that the program be implemented at some of the smaller agencies in the state. Metro addressed the high number of preventable/chargeable collisions in 2007 by revamping the entire training curriculum in 2008, making it more modern and more Metro-specific. The new training curriculum, the safety roundabout, and several other campaigns, promotions, and technology applications described in the case example summary resulted in a 24% reduc- tion in preventable/chargeable collisions from 2008 to 2015. GREATER BRIDGEPORT TRANSIT In late 2012, GBT began a restructuring that included marked changes in the safety and training areas, including two new positions related to safety training (manager of safety training and manager of transportation operations). GBT uses the TSI curriculum and TSI-certified instructors in its training program. For new hires, GBT provides 6 to 8 weeks of training, with only 1 week in the classroom and the balance on the road. Curriculum that would normally be covered in a classroom is taught while the trainees are on the bus, which enables the trainees to quickly transfer the content they learn into practice. Before graduating from the program, trainees are required to participate in qualifying training to ensure that they are capable and familiar with routes. In addition, each potential new hire is quizzed on every route in the systemâevery turn, street, and stop. GBTâs defensive driving course for new operators is 4 hours long and is open to any current operators who would like to have a refresher on the material. All trainers are required to take the course, which they welcome because of the discount they receive on their personal vehicle insurance. Another important element of GBTâs updated training program was the introduction of weekly safety alerts that cover a wide range of topics. GBTâs safety outreach to all staff includes electronic messaging boards with a constantly changing series of safety topics and safety bulletins distributed with employee paychecks. The topics of these bulletins vary depending on prevalent incidents and seasonal safety-related notifications. GBT staff updated the definition of a preventable accident using the NSC guidelines and set a 24-hour deadline for determina- tions. The determination is made by the safety training manager and is subject to review by the Accident Investigation Committee. The combination of the onboard surveillance system, which allows for visual monitoring of activities in and around the bus, and the AVL system allows GBT managers to have a full understanding of safety events and to address them properly. Although GBTâs preventable incident rate varies from month to month, the overall trend is a decline since the restruc- turing in 2012. In 2014, GBT had no incidents that were classified as preventable. When asked what they considered to be the most successful practice contributing to the increased safety culture at GBT, the interviewees cited teamworkâwork- ing together to solve common issues. The CEO believes that the improvements in operational safety at the agency cannot be attributed to any one change, procedure, or program. Rather, they are the result of a combination of many factors that fall into the broad categories of staffing and leadership, education and training, equipment and technology, and the assign- ment of accountability. GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY RTA installed telemetry-based DMS equipment fleetwide in 2014 to help protect its operators, reduce costs associated with risky driving behaviors, and create a safer experience for riders. After the initial period of adjustment, the agency saw a 60% reduction in posted speed violations, a 55% reduction in red light violations, a 53% improvement in seatbelt compliance, and a 20% decrease in near collisions. When asked to comment on the keys to the success of RTAâs safety program, staff cited the DMS program, open and honest dialogue with employees, a relentless pursuit of improvement, recognizing and rewarding employees for exceptional safety performance, and using teamwork between the safety and operations departments to create a true atmosphere of safety. Staff
66 also strongly emphasized the importance of having a consistent, agencywide definition of safety. With this in mind, the safety and operations departments plan to develop a Safety Leadership Program that will focus on training mid-level supervisors on the meaning of safety and the consequences of actions. JACKSONVILLE TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY JTAâs considers its evolving safety management system approach to improving bus safety to be effective and successful. The agency attributes much of its success to the telemetry-based DMS installed in early 2015, which yielded a 40% reduction in judgment errors and traffic violations and a 50% reduction in safety decision making over the course of the first year. JTA staff indicated that the system has also been a valuable tool for individual coaching with bus operators. In November 2015, JTA kicked off the communitywide âKeep It in Your Pocketâ distracted driving campaign. One ele- ment of the program was a strong emphasis on social media, tracking individualsâ âclout scoresâ (a measure of influence based on retweets or reposts). JTA brought in a social media specialist who identified the top 50 âsocial influencersâ in the Jacksonville area and brought them together for a well-received breakout session on distracted driving. They described the campaign and brought in distracted driving experts, attorneys who had represented the victims of distracted driving inci- dents, and local advocates. JTA also used the theme on a bus wrap, and the agencyâs external affairs professionals partnered with a local Toyota dealership to place hanging placards on each of the vehicles in its inventory with the slogan âKeep It in Your Pocket.â Although there are no data on the effectiveness of the program, JTA described the campaign as successful and attributed the success to community support and the partnerships developed, including cooperation and coordination with the Jacksonville Sheriffâs Office, the Jacksonville Fire Department, and the Northeast Florida Safety Council. Other successes reported through JTAâs safety programs and technology applications include targeted reductions in pre- ventable and non-preventable collisions and other incidents, and significant reductions in bodily injury liabilities and property damage payouts, from $1,010,283 in 2013 to $696,859 in 2014. KANSAS CITY AREA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY In response to significant increases in bus collisions with passengers, as well as passenger incidents, KCATA developed a comprehensive corrective action plan to reduce bus accidents. The five-point plan began in 2013 and focused on the five Eâs: engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement, and evaluation. The objectives of the program were as follows: â¢ Elimination of pedestrian collisions â¢ Reduction of auto liability costs by 10% â¢ Reduction of onboard passenger incidents by 15% â¢ Reduction of bus collisions by 10%. The focused approach to reducing pedestrian collisions and preventable incidents that is integral to KCATAâs safety pro- gram includes pedestrian awareness training with an emphasis on the hazards associated with blind spots, refresher and remedial training supplemented with onboard audio and video recordings, and simulator training. Safety promotion events and programs, such as Pedestrian Safety Week and the pedestrian safety tips communicated through the agencyâs TransitTalk articles were also described as successful. KCATA suggested that its passenger and pedestrian campaigns and programs could be considered a model for transit agencies across the country. The use of simulators was described as âabsolutely effectiveâ in basic skills testing. They can detect reaction and response speeds and the transition time from the accelerator to the brake, and can detect color blindnessâa feature the agency uses to eliminate some new hires owing to concerns over their inability to determine the color of traffic control signals. The safety program instituted in 2013 resulted in the following: â¢ Collisions with pedestrians have declined, including events occurring at crosswalks. In 2013, seven pedestrians were struck by a bus; in 2015, KCATA had only four pedestrian collisions, and none were at a crosswalk or in a loading zone. â¢ As one would expect, claims related to pedestrian collisions have also decreased, from $623,741 in 2013 to $415,000 in 2015.
67 KING COUNTY METRO Metro maintains a constant organizational focus on reducing the frequency and severity of pedestrian accidents. In response to a spike in these events in early 2014, Metro added the following key components to its safety program: â¢ Mandatory annual refresher training for all bus operators, with a focus on pedestrian awareness; â¢ An upgraded ride check program to ensure that operators are using proper safety practices; â¢ Recruitment and development of senior operators as safety champions; â¢ Statistical analysis focusing on the times and locations of accidents, so operators know when and where to expect the greatest risk; â¢ A focus on pedestrian events at base safety meetings and individually with operators; â¢ Examination and piloting of technology applications and other strategies, including audible bus turn warnings, strobe lights, automatic braking, and warning decals on side mirror frames to remind operators to look out for pedestrians; â¢ Enhanced employee communications; and â¢ Special safety outreach initiatives to educate the public. All operators receive a 4-hour refresher training every year, with 2 of the 4 hours devoted to pedestrian awareness, focus- ing on distracted driving and left turns. The training was updated in 2014 to include a field demonstration of a squared-off left turn. In addition, Metro produced videos that show what a proper left turn looks like, both from the operatorâs seat and outside the bus. The videos are used to demonstrate how pedestrians (and even other buses) can âdisappearâ if operators do not use the proper rock-and-roll technique in the seat. Metro reports an overall reduction in both preventable and non-preventable accidents in all categories since implementing the pedestrian awareness training, with the number of pedestrian incidents in 2014 dropping to 23 compared with 34 in 2013. This suggests that a refresher class of any duration, even only 2 hours, can have a positive impact on reducing collisions and raising operator awareness. Metro conducts a number of effective safety awareness campaigns in coordination and cooperation with the community. Two of these are âBe Seen, Be Safe, Be Smartâ (which evolved out of the national âLook Upâ campaign in response to an increase in distracted pedestrian behaviors such as looking down at smartphones while walking or cycling) and âTarget Zero,â the state equivalent of the national âVision Zeroâ campaign. Metroâs operator assaults reduction initiative has also been successful, resulting in a 6.1% reduction in operator assaults from 2014 through 2015. As part of this program, police trainers visit all Metro venues to explain the initiative and to educate operators on techniques they can useâsuch as verbal judo and other commonsense toolsâto de-escalate tense situations. King County Metro has made a concerted, agencywide effort to ensure that safety is its highest priority, an effort that the agency believes has resulted in significant reductions in pedestrian accidents. After improving its pedestrian awareness training in 2014, Metro saw a 35% reduction in pedestrian events compared with 2013, and the reduction continued into 2015. Liability claims of all types against Metro were down 8% in 2014 versus 2013 and down 6.8% from the agencyâs 2009â2013 average. Claims costs in 2014 were down 39% from those in the 2009â2013 period. Reducing the cost of claims has allowed Metro to put the savings into its core operations. Metro credits much of its success to vigorous and focused safety meetings, training designed and implemented to meet organizational needs, and follow-up on safety issues. In addition, Metroâs open communications policy encourages operators and other employees to make suggestions through the Joint Safety Committee and the Safety Working Group, and at base safety committee meetings. Interviewees also noted the close working partnership between King County and Metroâs own safety and training staffs, management, and bargaining units. LANE TRANSIT DISTRICT LTDâs overall approach to safety has been guided by an agencywide focus on customer service. From the districtâs point of view, training new operators to understand that a smooth ride and defensive driving are critical elements of customer service is preferable to hiring operators who have years of driving experience but no background in customer service. The emphasis on customer service is so strong that LTD places its advertisements for new operators in the customer service category rather than the driving category. LTD is also highly selective when hiring new operators.
68 Since 1997, LTD has used a proprietary driver training system for new bus operators and for refresher training. Agency staff said that the training program provides results beyond simple instruction. The program constantly stresses the organiza- tional attitude of LTD and is used as the perceptual lens through which safety is viewed by the agency. Total official accidents (defined as those that came before the Accident Review Committee) decreased by approximately 27% in the first 5 years after implementing the system and have remained consistently at this level ever since. LTD has two types of refresher training. One is back-to-basics training for all operators, which includes a strong emphasis on bus maneuvering and defensive driving. In an effort to add an element of fun to training exercises, trainers use game-like scenarios such as pre-trip inspection âcontestsâ for who can find the most problem issues. The second type of refresher training is targeted to operators who have had an accident. LTD staff also distribute a monthly written Review of Accidents to operators discussing all accidents, preventable and non-preventable, that occurred during the previous month. Incident photos and videos are used in the report to initiate discussion among operators and give them a âwhat went wrongâ perspective. Seeing the impacts of major collisions and hard braking incidents on LTD passengers has made a very strong impression on the bus operators. When asked to comment on the reasons for the success of LTDâs approach to safety, staff mentioned the importance not only of the general managerâs support but also of a human resources director who has regular meetings with union leadership to foster relationships based on inclusiveness and transparency. It was also suggested that part of the agencyâs success comes from the fact that the bylaws of the Accident Review Committee have insulated it from the politics of the union and the politics of LTD. One case example participant said, âLTDâs safety leadership has broad representation, and even though they some- times draw criticism from various constituencies, they take an equal opportunity approach and manage to âannoy everyoneâ at one point or another.â LTD aims to maintain a high standard of safety based on the reality of the agencyâs operations, and most employees, union officers included, are aware and supportive of this. SOLANO COUNTY TRANSIT SolTrans (operated by National Express) uses a proprietary driver training system that it considers to be very useful. Typically, trainees are placed in the bus immediately, which helps to avoid overwhelming them with too much information in the class- room. The SolTrans representative said that alternating training time between the classroom and behind-the-wheel training each day increases traineesâ ability to retain information, because they have the opportunity to apply new knowledge immediately. The interviewee suggested that a minimum of 20 hours of behind-the-wheel training should be a nationwide standard for new bus operators. SolTrans requires its new bus operators to complete 25 hours behind the wheel before they are allowed to transition into revenue service. Although SolTrans has done a great deal to improve the safety of its transit system, the interviewee said that the one thing that has been most successful in the improvement of the safety culture has been treating employees as internal customers. The management of SolTrans was contracted to National Express in July 2013. Initial results of the system changes made by National Express indicated a 71% decrease in total incidents in the last 6 months of 2013 compared with the first 6 months. Over the same period, passenger falls decreased by 75% and employee injuries decreased by 66%. TRIMET In response to the 2010 pedestrian collision, TriMet committed to reexamining and improving on its already strong and viable system safety program. This commitment was undertaken as part of an overall revitalization of the safety culture at the agency and resulted in the following efforts: â¢ Making immediate modifications to standard operating procedures and infrastructure as necessary; â¢ Undertaking a comprehensive, agencywide safety review independently led by an expert safety and security consultant, and implementing the recommendations in the consultantâs reports; â¢ Creating the Safety and Service Excellence Task Force to further the work of the comprehensive safety review, and incorporating the groupâs recommendations into TriMetâs action plans; â¢ Initiating an ongoing, line-by-line review of every bus route to reveal potential safety issues, and taking appropriate corrective action to resolve any problems or hazards;
69 â¢ Undertaking special outreach and education initiatives to educate the public, especially youth, on how to be safe around TriMet vehicles; and â¢ Making other improvements and upgrades to shelters and stops, pedestrian crossings, windscreens, security cameras, and lighting. TriMet places significant focus on public education and outreach. Every fall the agency rolls out its âBe Seen, Be Safeâ campaign, which stresses the importance of wearing bright clothing, reflective materials, and personal lights, especially in the fall when daylight savings time ends. TriMet runs a safety awareness campaign every spring as well; the 2016 theme was âBe Alert, Be Safe.â This campaign focused on distracted pedestrian behaviors, such as walking while wearing earbuds or looking down at smartphones or other PEDs. A Safety Education Advisory Committee composed of TriMet personnel and community representatives plans safety campaigns that promote safe interactions among bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, and transit users. TriMetâs Transit Change and Review Committee is composed of mid-level managers and directors and chaired by the exec- utive director of safety and security. This group reviews every major collision, not to determine preventability but to deter- mine the organizational factors that influence collisions. TriMetâs Task Force on Safety and Service Excellence is charged with addressing âhow to migrate the agency to the highest levels of safety performance, and thereby improve performance in all areas of its business.â The work of the task force provided an invaluable framework for the agencyâs systemwide safety review and resulted in several of the key safety adjustments that guide TriMetâs safety culture to this day. Rather than thinking of safety as a single priority, TriMet has made safety its core value and the lens the organization uses to make all of its operational, planning, and strategic decisionsâeverything from hiring and training employees to operating and maintaining vehicles. Every TriMet employee is charged with embracing safety as a value. TriMet takes the philosophy that training and safety are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand, along with customer service. With this in mind, another organizational realignment is planned in which the training function will report to the safety and security division to ensure that critical safety concepts are embedded in the training program. UTAH TRANSIT AUTHORITY In May 2014, UTA installed telemetry-based DMSs on all of its buses. The system is used to identify unsafe driving behaviors, assist in incident investigations, and provide bus operators with an extra level of protection by allowing them to manually activate recording in the case of, for example, a robbery, unruly passengers, or road rage. The system enables the agency to coach bus operators and, because of its ability to track incidents by type, is an effective tool for focusing refresher and reme- dial training on currently prevalent incident types. It is also often the source of content for safety bulletins. In 2015, an illuminated âYIELDâ sign was added to the rear lighting configuration of UTAâs buses to increase visibility in an attempt to reduce rear-end collisions. Although data are not yet available to prove its effectiveness, operator response has been favorable. UTA officials described their approach to safety culture improvements as multifaceted and systemwide. Training for new operators and annual recertification training are continuously examined at UTA, and changes are implemented when needed. Lighting configurations on UTA buses have been adjusted for improved visibility. The DMS allows for greater data collection and analysis in ways that were not possible in the past. Between 2012 and 2015, as a result of the safety approaches imple- mented at UTA, avoidable bus collisions declined by 36% and the number of claim payments declined by 9%. COMMON THREADS The 11 case example agencies share many qualities and characteristics, including an across-the-agency philosophy that rec- ognizes the importance of employee participation and input. â¢ All case example agencies have adopted and enforce distracted driving/wireless distraction policies and procedures. The majority of the agencies have zero tolerance for these violations. â¢ All case example agencies used multiple approaches to address areas of critical safety concern.
70 â¢ All case example agencies work across teams to improve transit safety, and this process is supported by and the culture is set by the CEO/GM. â¢ All case examples conduct thorough accident and incident investigations using audio/video recordings. Each agency has an accident review board or a body with a similar function that includes representatives from across teams. â¢ All agencies have a structured process for data collection, analysis, and review. â¢ All case example agencies provide regular, comprehensive refresher training for their bus operators. Interviewees in this survey agreed that the importance of recurring refresher training could not be overstated. Most agencies provide this refresher training on an annual basis and many deliver training content during monthly or quarterly bus operator safety meetings. Training was cited as a central element in every agencyâs safety improvement program. â¢ All case example agencies said they value the use of onboard video and audio recordings in refresher and remedial train- ing, and in counseling sessions with specific bus operators. â¢ All agencies recognize the value of their employees to their organizations. Each provides bus operators with opportuni- ties for input and engagement with transit agency leadership. â¢ Four of the case example agencies successfully use telemetry-based driver monitoring systems. The systems capture, identify, prioritize, and analyze causes of poor or risky driving before an incident occurs, which enables the transit agency to take corrective action. The agencies discussed the value of these systems for modifying driver behavior and improving system safety. Table 1 shows the common applications, tools, and policies of the case example agencies. TABLE 1 COMMON APPLICATIONS, TOOLS, AND POLICIES OF CASE STUDY AGENCIES Transit Agency Telemetry- Based Driver Monitoring System Driver Training Company Simulator Training TSI Curriculum TSI or Other Certified Instructors Distracted Driving Policy Zero Tolerance Wireless Distraction Policy Annual Refresher/ Recertification Training Use of Audio/ Video in Training/ Counseling Pedestrian Awareness Programs/ Training New Operator Training CDL Training Charlotte Area Transit System x a x x x x 7 Weeks Yes City of Madison Metro Transit x x x x x x 4 Weeks Yes Greater Bridge- port Transit x x x x x x x 6 to 8 Weeks No Greater Cleve- land Regional Transit Authority x x x x x x 13 Weeks Yes Jacksonville Transportation Authority x x x x x x x x x 8 Weeks No Kansas City Area Transportation Authority x x x x x 6 Weeks Yes King County Metro x b x x x x 4 Weeks Yes Lane Transit District x x x x x x 8 Weeks Yes Solano Transit/ SolTrans x x x c x x x x 4 Weeks Yes TriMet x x x x x 8 Weeks No Utah Transit Authority x x d x x x x 5 Weeks Yes Note: Blank cells indicate application, tool, or policy not in use. a CATS uses operator trainers that are CTAA certified. b All safety officers, but not all trainersâyet. c Instructors are California state certified. d All first-level trainers