FTSN Quarterly Meeting – March 3, 2016 (8:30 am)

View Agenda

The meeting was held in Tampa, Florida at the USF Embassy Suites and was called to order by Lisa Staes (CUTR). The meeting began with the introduction of the FTSN members and guests, followed by FTSN committee reports and discussion.

Committee Reports and Discussion

Collisions Committee – Colin Mulloy, Chair (JTA)

Colin Mulloy (JTA), chairperson of the Collisions committee began the reporting by stating the collisions committee had not had a chance to meet in person. However, open discussions regarding mitigation, lighting placement, and distracted driving were ongoing. Colin (JTA) shared that Toyota had an advertising campaign going on called “keep it in your pocket.” He thought this would be a good catchphrase to share with operators reminding them to pledge to keep their cell phones in their pocket. Colin (JTA) asks everyone to share a copy of his or her best practices for collision mitigation with the collisions committee.

Paul Goyette (LeeTran) commented that at this point we have an obligation as the transit community to take a holistic look at the bus stop placement problems, and make a difference when it comes to safety. We may not be able to control what happens behind us, but agencies need to look at what we can control such as moving poorly placed bus stops, making the probability of a collision less. It is important to move forward with the process of bringing the planning and operations departments together when it comes to the placement and the moving of existing of bus stops. We need to stay on top of this is a committee, take the lead and use the power and traction we have to make positive changes for safety. Once we have made some headway as Operations, we should then bring Maintenance in on this movement. He commended JTA for having done this with their bus stops.

Dave Kelsey (HART) stated these comments go hand-in-hand with the Transportation Safety Institute (TSI) Safety Management Systems (SMS) course. Even with data analysis, some agencies do not take action until after an accident has happened. This is costly (i.e. lawsuits, insurance, etc.) and sometimes may include fatalities. He gave an example of a poorly placed bus stop to which six crashes had occurred within a four-week timeline. Finally, the bus stop was moved. We should not accept that these incidents are not preventable.

Paul (LeeTran) mentioned the Heinrich Ratio also proves these points. If we document these events, then there will be historical records to support the requests/recommendations to move stops. These documentations could also be used in a lawsuit to show the agency did not take appropriate steps to improve safety, which would prove to be costly to the agency.

Jim Egbert (Manatee County) commented that all agencies have safety plans, but there is a common thread of poor communications between planning departments, safety, and operations. Many designers/planners have never ridden a bus, and do not understand the safety concerns seen by the operator. It seems planning is not aware of many of the safety issues and incidents that commonly occur; we need to get the agency management to buy into the safety program. Colin (JTA) added that this is not an easy conversation to have, but safety committees should give input on all planning discussions. Steve Berry (LYNX) also commented these issues occur at LYNX, and investigations can take a lengthy amount of time. He is happy to share transcripts with the committee so we can model the actual interviews into the standardized safety forms that the network is working toward developing. Their planning department never reaches out to learn if there are existing safety issues, and it is time to stop kicking the can down the road.

Victor Wiley (FDOT) said the FTA is promoting this conversation regarding SMS. Unfortunately, our system safety plans are designed to respond after an incident has occurred. SMS brings everyone including planning and grants to the table, and these items affect funding. The industry is changing, but Florida is on the forefront of change. Brian Pessaro and Rob Greg (CUTR) have supplied research reports and data to support the items needed for change. Victor (FDOT) stressed that all agencies need to document everything, and why we need change in order to get funding and change the standards. He encouraged everyone to do whatever they can to increase safety measures, like moving bus stops, having no bus stops on highways with speed limits over 40 MPH, or wherever there has been a high rate of incidents, pinpointing certain areas that have high rates of incidents. Victor (FDOT) shared that Bobby Westbrook (FDOT) has submitted a request for lighting changes, but reminded everyone that the lighting position must be uniform, and the message relayed to drivers must also be consistent (i.e. the bus is stopping, pulling over, emergency flashers, etc.) Do not change the lighting until the state law has been amended. Victor (FDOT) also shared his distaste for advertising on the back of the vehicle. When we place a message or advertisement on the back of the bus, it is encouraging other drivers to read the message instead of paying attention to the lights, which are indicating that the bus may be pulling over or stopping. Agencies can make a change regarding advertising on the back of the bus without the approval of FDOT. Victor (FDOT) is currently reviewing the draft final on the research conducted by Rob Gregg’s group, and the published report will be out soon.

Rob Greg (CUTR) gave a report that he and his team have visited 17 public transit properties, collecting fundamental data from each property, which is included in the report. He feels there should be two layers of data to reflect larger properties and smaller properties, including the variables. Rob would like the data being gathered to be standardized and integrated database to be used by all transit agencies, large and small. Victor (FDOT) added that he has three projects that he wants to push; the passenger assault study, the rear-end collision study, and the database. NTD database does not go far enough to reflect numerous safety issues. The research done by Rob Greg (CUTR) will assist Victor (FDOT) in pushing for the database to gather all relevant information. The FTA is going to require the database in the near future; these are good proactive steps. The operator is not always at fault for collisions and accidents, it could be anything from the location of the stops to the rising and setting of the sun, driver experience, or training. We would like to see balance in the way an incident is investigated. Service cannot always be the leading indicator of bus stop placement.

Lisa (CUTR) stated that the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) presentation later on the agenda will hit on some of the stated concerns due to the specific requirements (i.e. modifications to vehicles, routes, schedules, etc.).  Additionally, agencies will have to state how the changes will impact the agency, including the reduction of risk. Paul (LeeTran) stressed that we need the executive level to buy into these changes; momentum comes from the top. He would like language from the state (FDOT) in a general statement stating the agency needs to follow the SMS concept for increasing safety. It is configuration management.

Paul (LeeTran) mentioned that getting the awareness of the agency executives would go a long way in the safety culture. SSPP mandate vetting and validating. We must start at the management level to get these changes into effect. It is the only way to fix this. We should remember that if it is a regulation, it will be implemented. Colin (JTA) said that often times performance management is all about numbers, and things can be overlooked because the CEO may believe the needs are already being met and/or implemented – it is an assumption. Aside from NTD, there are no formulas to follow. Paul (LeeTran) complemented the CEO of JTA for making substantial decisions of change, which were big strides for safety. The CEO set the tone for a holistic safety culture.

Victor (FDOT) expressed to Colin (JTA) he would like to invite the CEO of JTA to the FTSN Summit in June, and added that he would like to see all CEOs at the summit. Victor (FDOT) also assured the network that the things being requesting are not falling on deaf ears, and changes of requirements will be forthcoming.

Fatigue Committee – Dave Kelsey, Co-chair (HART)

Dave (HART) co-chair of the fatigue committee gave a report on the fatigue committee in the absence of the chair, Don Worrell (StarMetro). He stated he has been chatting with Don (StarMetro) about ways to make 14-90 better for the transit employees. It is becoming quite common that employees are living farther and farther from their workplace. Dave (HART) invited Dr. Tobias Sando to HART to perform a review of their scheduling and the effects of fatigue. Conclusively, eight hours off the schedule does not translate to eight hours of rest for the operator, it actually translated into 4 to 5 hours of rest. With this in mind, HART went through the following process:

  • We started looking at 14-90 hours of service requirements and realized that wasn’t really the problem. Dr. Santos said the 8 hours off wasn’t translating into 8 hours of rest. (A lot of our employees live far away.)
  • Our schedulers began playing around with schedules and routes using number of buses and passenger counters to limit our spread times to no greater than 14 hours, and also to minimize split pieces of work.
  • By using our buses and runs more efficiently, we were able to lower our cost per mile quite a bit, reaching our goal of $6.10/mile. We also increased efficiency (with a goal of 22 passengers per hour per bus, we are currently at 24 passengers per hour per bus).
  • We put in some sleep rooms as well, especially for people who live far away.
  • We also brought in the President and Vice President of the union to get their active participation.
  • We went above the minimum 8 hours off required by 14-90 to require a minimum 10 hours off.
  • Agencies need to constantly look at schedules and tweak them.

This was done in harmony with the bargaining unit. The result indicated there are no run with over 14 hours of spread time. It was also noted that 10 hours off the schedule makes an operator more amenable to customer service issues. Dave (HART) works hard sure schedule, in your operators always clamor for the extra board. It was mentioned that another paradigm is that newer employees think that a 40-hour workweek is being overworked.

There was an open for floor discussion about scheduling. Everyone agreed the technical side vs. the cultural side is quite different. The scheduling computer took away the human side of knowing the effects of fatigued operators. The schedule should be tweaked constantly. Jim (Manatee) added that the schedule must be done realistically. Dispatchers and schedulers should be required to ride the bus routes. Steve (LYNX) said that LYNX has five service planners, but unfortunately, they are becoming reliant on the computers and automation, leaving out the human factor of fatigue and consequential safety issues.

Lisa (CUTR) shared that many of the issues will be discussed with the 14-90 modifications, including the topic of today’s conversation. There are significant issues for medical drivers who may skirt on to a 16-hour timeline when driving medical related service. If a driver has to wait for the patient’s doctor visit, that time is added to the drive time. This is an ongoing concern for the paratransit systems. Colin (JTA) mentioned that many agencies have contracted their paratransit services, and not all contractors are aware of or knowledgeable of 14-90 rules. Lisa (CUTR) added that there is a distinct difference between driving time and on duty hours. Agencies should document well these differences. Victor (FDOT) shared that agencies must document the process and procedures in the SSPP before an incident occurs. This includes the methodology of the process and procedures, not ad hoc.

Paul (LeeTran) expressed that Dave (HART) has demonstrated a good approach on addressing and documenting operator fatigue. Theo (PSTA) agreed stating safety is paramount. Legislation would be a great help in implementing safety requirements, policies and procedures. Victor (FDOT) let the group know that legislation is on its way.

Bus Operator and Passenger Safety Committee – Stephen Berry, Chair (LYNX)

Steve (LYNX) gave a brief update on a program that is in development, but deferred to an item later on the agenda that will be a better way to define the recent activities of the Operator/Passenger Safety Committee.

Distracted Driving Committee – Lydia Chung, Chair (PalmTran)

Lydia reported that technology is advancing quickly, with new and different means of communications devices coming into the marketplace. Specifically, items such as cell phone watches and ear and neck Bluetooth devices make it difficult to visually see the operator using a communications device. Victor (FDOT) stated the 14-90 language regarding distracted driving is open to cover all personal wireless communication devices, but the committee should still address these specific items. Agencies do not have to wait for legislation to make agency policy regarding these personal electronic communication devices. Additionally, Jim (Manatee) reminded the group we cannot forget about the common distracted driving factors of eating and/or drinking while the bus is in motion. Colin (JTA) shared that recently JTA had to terminate their union president for texting while driving. HART fired an operator for calling 911 instead of dispatch when a passenger pulled a gun on him.

Safety Training Committee – Paul Goyette, Chair (LeeTran)

Paul (LeeTran) gave a brief update on the FTSN training committee and referenced the recent FTA webinar on fixed route side of the ADA. Good information came from the webinar. Florida should make note of the “buzz” words mentioned by the FTA. He recommended that everyone try to join in on the FTA webinars whenever possible. One item mentioned in the webinar that the FTA will be checking on was regarding stop announcements, training operators on ADA and documentation thereof, weight limits on devices, etc. He also mentioned that the training of an operator actually begins with the interview, and the selection of the right person for the position.  He also wants to see the de-escalation tactics training to continue moving forward.

Update of Federal Transit Administration NPRM – Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans – Lisa Staes (CUTR)

Lisa (CUTR) reminded everyone of webinars on the NPRM that are being provided, and stressed the importance of participating in the webinars. It critically important to be aware of the extensive, significant changes on the horizon. Lisa (CUTR) shared with the group that a copy of the Federal Register (Vol. 81, No. 24) was provided in the meeting handouts booklet. Advanced notice has already been provided to the rail industry, and similar notices will be forthcoming for transit.

She gave a presentation on upcoming the FTA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP). She encouraged the group be active during her presentation with questions, comments, and interjections. The presentation covered the topics of applicability, FTA Policy statement, definitions, general requirements, SMS pillars, comment period/docket that are due by April 5, 2016, and the implications for Florida. Lisa (CUTR) stressed that SMS is not going away, but there will be some flexibility with the tailoring of principles and methods due to the varying sizes of the agencies. PTASPs will be populated with a significant number of performance standards that are already in use within the industry.

The FTA will be looking at numerous new items, but there are things not addressed by FTA that are addressed with 14-90. Lisa (CUTR) also addressed definitions identified in the NPRM. One item of significance is that the Chief Safety Officer, who has a direct line to the GM/CEO and is an adequately trained individual responsible for safety, must be identified within the PTASP. The PTASP must be in place within one year of publication of the final rule, and signed by the Accountable Executive and approved by the Board of Directors. The agency will be required to thoroughly document (expansive) the processes and activities related to SMS implementation. Smaller agencies may not have a CEO; this would apply to agencies with less than 100 vehicles.

Essential items of the must include the following elements/pillars: safety management policy, safety risk management, safety assurance, safety promotion, specifically identify Accountable Executive and Chief Safety Officer (or SMS Executive for small agencies), demonstrate organizational accountabilities and responsibilities, describe organizational structure – and KEY staff responsible for plan implementation, describe how the agency will manage SMS. Additionally, the agency must identify specific safety objectives, reference performance targets for those objectives, include process to allow employee reporting of safety conditions to senior management – including protections for those employees, and identify and execute communication of SMS Safety Management Policy and make available to all agency employees and contractors.

There are numerous other points of significance of the essentials including Safety Assurance, Safety Promotion (communication), and PTASP documentation and recordkeeping found in the PowerPoint Presentation. It should be noted that activities and programs established for your agency must be specifically addressed in the PTASP and documentation of activities must be maintained. Safety has to be at the table for procurement discussions, and the state of good repair will be central and tied very closely to what goes on in your safety program.

Victor (FDOT) spoke with Bobby Westbrook prior to the meeting regarding the implementation of these new requirements. The state requirements will not be replaced by the new requirements of the PTASP, and FDOT is looking at a merging of the documents. He stated there was a remote possibility of repealing 14-90 and creating a new rule, merging everything that has been discussed (14-90, PTASP) into   one item since both documents have many crossovers. CUTR will be asked to develop a template/resource to assist agencies in meeting the requirements. Agencies should forward their comments on how these changes/requirements will affect the agency to Victor (FDOT) about this by April 5, 2016.

Lisa (CUTR) stressed that agencies must describe the process used for identifying and assessing changes in the system that may result in or introduce new hazards or otherwise impact safety performance, describe the process used to regularly assess safety performance, and identified deficiencies. Documents must be maintained and available for three years. She recommends that we use a template so that Florida’s agencies are all on the same page.
Since this topic is so in-depth, Lisa (CUTR) asked the group if they would like to form a committee to address these upcoming changes. Our current plans do not meet the detail that the FTA is looking for, but the administration says there will be a template to assist agencies.

Ream Lazaro, from FTA’s Bus Safety Program, will be at the summit in June speaking specifically on SMS implementation and performing an SMS gap analysis.  She suggested that we may want to ask him about these new requirements.

Paul (LeeTran) said we might need to re-direct our priorities to create a layered training module addressing safety requirements. The FTSN should spend time on getting these items in order, and then collectively bring forward a package for a state model. Victor (FDOT) also wants to create two (small and large) model transit agency to establish a template for the state, funded separately from the FTSN. The FON and Maintenance consortium must also be involved with the process.

Update on Chapter 14-90, FAC Stakeholder Input Process – Rob Gregg, CUTR

Rob (CUTR) shared that the Florida Operations Network (FON) had met in December and discussed the process of changing 14-90, as did the Florida Transit Maintenance Consortium. The OMS (Operations, Maintenance, Safety) committee was organized to bring the three groups together to be able to unify their suggestions for changes to 14-90. This internal process is complete and the OMS committee is ready to present their suggestions. Paul (LeeTran) is a member of the OMS and is proud of the work they have done already. OMS will present an outline of suggestions/recommendations to the networks soon. He would also like to see the OMS continue their joint efforts in working on the NPRM, as it is a very big piece of work with multiple facets.

  • Paul Goyette (Lee Tran):
    • We as a team need to collectively make changes to leave a safety statewide legacy – this gives our network a renewed purpose.
    • This is a really big piece of work – we need examples, performance measures, an understanding of what exactly is being evaluated.
    • We need to establish training to accommodate these new proposed rules.
    • For the most part, Florida shares many of the same challenges across the state – it lends itself to a holistic uniform guidance approach, statewide.

Jim (Manatee) and Victor (FDOT) spoke about the NTD, and the many voids in the information it provides. Victor (FDOT) would like to see Florida’s database to be uniform and standardized without being overbearing. Gary (St Johns County) spoke about the need of flexibility for the smaller agencies. The database cannot be a one size fits all. While larger agencies typically have computers and modern equipment, smaller agencies are still doing passenger counts with pen and paper.

Steve (LYNX) added, “When things are good, everything is good, but when things are bad, everything becomes critical.” He recommended the group look at how police and fire departments handle situations, as there are many similarities to transit situations. Paul (LeeTran), Jim (Manatee), and Mike (PSTA) all stated that they work closely with law enforcement and fire departments, and they frequently offer ‘comfort buses’ to the departments.

  • Steve Berry (LYNX):
    • Police and firemen can achieve more because of their legacy and we need that in the transit sector.
    • Health, welfare, and safety must be paramount. That argument is how I get funding approved.
  • Paul Goyette (Lee Tran):
    • During our training, SWAT Police bridged the gap by telling the operators that transit bus operators deal with the same public as the police.
    • Training together gives an understanding and they build relationships to stay involved in emergency management.
    • LeeTran sends comfort buses to firemen fighting lasting fires, and to SWAT in prolonged standoff situations, which is another way to help show them that we are on the same side.
  • Mike Gloss(PSTA): Sheriff’s department sends someone into all our meetings – it took 20 years, but we finally have a good rapport with the Sheriff.

Update on Training

Training in Development: De-escalation

The training committee, comprised of Roberta (CUTR), Steve (LYNX), Mike (PSTA), Jim (Manatee), and Theo (PSTA), is working on the development of training courses for De-Escalation and Active Shooter scenarios gave an update on their progress. An outline would be released in June.

  • Steve Berry:
    • Indicated that the committee met the prior week at CUTR and began hashing out the approach to take.
    • The types of operator we’re attracting are works in progress – we need a mechanical, consistent skillset for de-escalation.
    • What does it mean to be able to de-escalate? To answer this, standards of expectation need to be set from the beginning and then train after hired.
    • What is the gray area between the triggering event and the response? That’s what we want to train for.
    • Come up with a way to simulate what they are going to do, in a way that is standardized.
  • Jim Egbert:
    • This will be a classroom-based training, personalized for each agency.
    • Total of 4 hours (3 hours for training, 1 hour of discussion/interaction).
    • Will include a pre-hire test with a required score of at least 80 percent. The goal is for the operator to get home happy at the end of the shift
    • Provide the skills and knowledge necessary to handle personal triggers, maintain professionalism.
    • Reality check: operators need lowered expectations for what their typical day looks like.
  • Colin Mulloy:
    • JTA altercations are often with groups of teens.
    • TSI offers training specifically on how to de-escalate issues with teens/young adults.
  • Jim Egbert:
    • I’m not a fan of role-playing – too often, it degenerates into a joke and is not taken seriously.
    • The best way is to incorporate specific agency videos – they tend to pay more attention when it is a bus they will actually be driving, and it gives a personal feel to the video.
    • Need to show good as well as bad responses – the example that is handled properly is more important than wrong response videos.
  • Theo Bakomihalis:
    • Goal-oriented education (get home safety, paycheck, pension, etc.).
    • Work it backwards from the goal, manipulate their behavior.
  • Steve Berry:
    • The end result will be something that can be customized and used for pre-hire, embed with personalized agency videos.
    • Crisis behavior modification.
    • It’s important to remember that more and more operators are coming from areas outside of transit.
    • If they don’t pass with an 80% by the 2nd attempt then they are a no-hire.
  • Roberta Yegidis: We plan to have a progress update for the Summit in June and a final product in late summer.

Lisa (CUTR) indicated that the group discussed tests being developed for new hires that verify the new employee successfully understand/comprehends the training content provided by the agency. Paul believes there should be block training as different generations (i.e. baby boomers, gen Xers, Millennials, etc.) communicate differently, and they learn differently. Ultimately, we need to train to achieve our goals, and mitigate not to lose control – making sure incidents do not take the situation pass the point of no return. Ultimately, these trainings will promote crisis behavior modification. The final product should be available by late summer 2016.

Completed Training

Lisa (CUTR) shared that the training course How to Conduct an Internal Safety Audit is scheduled on June 14-15, 2016. This course, specifically developed for Florida’s transit agencies, features in-depth subject areas paramount to the audit process, and will be of benefit in learning how to meet the requirements of items outlined in the NPRM. All agencies were encouraged to send a representative. Also in development is the How to Perform a Bus Collision Investigation-A Short Course, which should be available in late summer/early fall.

  • Victor Wiley:
    • How to conduct an internal safety audit
      • It isn’t spelled out in 14-90, but you should already be doing it.
      • If you are having certain types of events, you may need to ramp up training.
      • Please take advantage of this course – it will improve your internal program.
    • How to conduct a bus collision investigation
      • This goes beyond what TSI does, focuses specifically on Florida.
      • Whoever is responsible for accident investigation at your agency: please take this course
      • You need to know how to capture and analyze the correct information, we need more than just police reports.
  • Lisa Staes: And the audit course incorporates SMS stuff.

Training Calendar

Molly (CUTR) reported on new additions to the training calendar, and reminded the group that the training calendar is quite fluid. Upcoming courses include the Instructors Course (FT00562) being presented twice (March and May) due to popular demand, Transit Dispatch and Supervisor Training, Managing for Performance-Safety, Customer Service, Conflict and Work Ethic: A Guide for Transit Operators, Trainers, Supervisors, and Managers, and Transit Bus System Safety (FT00533).  Also in development is How to Perform a Bus Collision Investigation-A Short Course. The target date for this unique training is late summer/early fall. She also provided a list of requested TSI trainings; these course dates will be announced as they become available.

Molly encouraged the group to ask for specific training needs, and shared that if an agency would like to host a training at their property to contact her. PSTA and JTA volunteered to host trainings. Victor (FDOT) emphasized the importance of How to Conduct an Internal Safety Audit and the How to Perform a Bus Collision Investigation-A Short Course, both of which focus on the specific needs of Florida.

Evaluation of Camera-Based Systems to Reduce Transit Bus Side Collisions – Dr. Achilleas Kourtellis, CUTR

Achilleas Kourtellis, Ph.D. (CUTR) gave a presentation on the Evaluation of Camera-Based Systems to Reduce Transit Bus Side Collisions. The presentation covered how the design of appropriate integrated mirror and camera systems can improve safety and reduce side collisions. He demonstrated through research how some existing side camera systems are too wide for drivers and moving targets are often difficult to see. New side view camera systems have been developed with features that have reduced search times, improved object location and type detection with enhancement. Based upon the controlled driving tests, these new systems were also useful in eliminating blind zones, lane change assistance, and reduced perceived risk of side collisions. Following the presentation, there were floor conversations regarding the camera-based systems. Paul (LeeTran) shared that this study, which LeeTran had participated in, was intense and naturalistic. He felt it was very insightful. Lisa (CUTR) added that prevention of one pedestrian fatality would pay for the system.

Transit Safety Summit and PDW Updates

FTA will be at the summit to discuss SMS implementation, the guide that will be released very soon, and gap analysis. Lisa (CUTR) asked the network attendees to invite their agency account executives to the FTSN Safety Summit on Monday, June 6, 2016 in Tampa to speak about their safety culture and what SMS implementation means to them. Several network members agreed to invite their GM/account executive who signs the agency safety plan, including Lydia (PalmTran), Dean (Citrus Connection/LAMTD), Colin (JTA), Dave (HART), Gennaro (Space Coast), and Paul (LeeTran). Lisa (CUTR) also asked for topic items for the summit. She wants the focus to be on security and emergency management. The summit is held concurrently with the FPTA/FDOT/CUTR Professional Development Workshop on June 7-8; a matrix of the draft PDW agenda was provided. Online registration for the summit and PDW should be open in April 2016.

State Triennial Review Process Discussion

Victor (FDOT) opened discussion on the state triennial bus system safety review process, and the updated requirements for system safety program plans (SSPP.) He shared that all agencies must adopt an SSPP that is in compliance with or exceeding established standards outlined in Rule 14-90, F.A.C. The SSPP must be adopted, dated and signed by the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager of the Bus Transit System and must clearly comply with or exceed the established standards outlined in Rule 14-90, F.A.C. by April 2017, and include an Annual safety certification of an adoption of SSPP that meets or exceeds 14-90 including annual safety inspections on all buses operated.

It was noted by Victor (FDOT) that many times the review deficiencies, and now is the time to make sure your agency is performing according to their SSPP. Roberta (CUTR) suggested position titles be utilized in the organizational chart instead of a person’s name, for clarification sake. Lisa (CUTR) added to identify how the agency fits within the local jurisdiction and provide full descriptions of how the agency implements policies and procedures. It was suggested that supervisors ride their buses (day and night shifts) to see if operators are compliant. A full-blown maintenance review with a detailed inventory of management process, including pulling vehicles will be included. Make sure all reports are well documented. Auditors will ride the buses so make sure all aspects of the bus are functional/operational.

Every procured and operated bus must have the strength and capability to carry the maximum allowed load and not exceed the gross vehicle weight rating, gross axle weighting, or tire rating, have structural integrity that mitigates or minimizes the adverse effects of collisions, and follow Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. There must be proof of strength and structural integrity tests on new buses must be submitted to the department.

All driver training must be detailed with tracking, length, and testing of bus operators to ensure adequate capabilities to safely operate each type of bus prior to permission to drive unsupervised. A copy of initial training and refresher course syllabuses for training materials that show training and testing for the minimum required training elements identified in Rule Chapter 14-90, as well as additional new bus operator and refresher training that is required beyond these minimum topics must be on file. Agencies must choose to use either FMC or 14-90 medical examination certificates, but it is a violation to use both.

Also required will be the demonstration of 15 hours or less of on-duty hours vs. 12 hours or less of driving hours during a 24-hour period.

  • Lisa Staes:
    • Drive vs. on-duty hours must be documented and demonstrated to reviewers.
    • Training completion files must be in order and filed when complete.
    • When/if you have a finding, there is a corrective action plan which must be established by the agency, not the contractor.

Ultimately, items to expect during onsite review include the entrance meeting, record checks, bus inspections, route reviews, driver performance checks, and an exit briefing. Agencies should be specific about what they do, and be specific about the process used to execute, from file to file to file.

The district FDOT office will notify the agency at least three weeks prior to the review, and will schedule the review. The notice will establish the expected items required during the audit, including items required to be provided to the team prior to the audit.

Correction Action Plan (CAP) reports should come from FDOT, not from the contractor. FDOT will do technical assistance to perform the corrective action. Auditors cannot demand that the trainings be from TSI. FDOT is developing training to address the requirements. The level of audits will be more intensive. The audit will not be a time of reviewing the SSPP, it is a time to see if the agency is implementing the plan, and thoroughly documenting how the implementation is done.  CAP reports will go to FDOT, and then FDOT will approve and forward the report to the agency. Paul (LeeTran) asked who trains the auditors on what/how to conduct the audit. Auditors can recommend training, but cannot mandate the training be from TSI.

FDOT will provide technical assistance to agencies to help correct deficiencies. Lydia (PalmTran) asked if auditors should “report to an agency supervisor” or “write up” operators using cell phones. Victor (FDOT) replied the auditor should call the agency. Victor (FDOT) said that all auditors should give an entry and exit overview to the agency, especially if there are deficiencies. Lisa stated CUTR can provide pre- and post-audit event preparation, and encouraged everyone to review the information provided in the PowerPoint presentation.

Other FTSN Member Discussion

A brief discussion pursued about operators carrying personal firearms for protection. The network in general feels this would not be a good solution for de-escalation or operator assaults. If this topic comes up on the local level as it has in Polk County, please let the network know.

The meeting adjourned at 3:45pm. The next meeting will be the FTSN Safety Summit on June 6, 2016.

Adjorn