FTSN Quarterly Meeting – September 16, 2015 (9:00 am)

View Agenda

Lisa Staes welcomed everyone to the meeting and extended her appreciation to Paul Goyette and Lee Tran staff for hosting the Florida Transit Safety Network’s quarterly meeting (Steve Myers, General Manager of LeeTran, dropped in during the meeting to welcome the group to LeeTran). She then asked attendees to briefly introduce themselves. Reports from the various FTSN committees followed.

Committee Reports and Discussion

Collisions Committee – Colin Mulloy, Chair (JTA)

  • As incoming Chair, Colin kicked off the Committee’s report by announcing that he would like to have more involvement in Committee activities from the operations side, and that in order to bring about real solutions, he’d like to see more of a focus on deliverables instead of just meeting. Colin also noted that, despite the fact that all agencies exist in a world of finite resources, the Committee should engage on a more frequent and regular basis.
  • The Amalgamated Transit Union’s (ATU) Brian Sherlock gave a presentation on reducing the risk of pedestrian and bicycle collisions through the appropriate placement of mirrors and h-pillars. The presentation included a discussion of blind spots, blind angles, eye position and height, the dangers of taking turns at walking speed, bus frame structure, options for mirror placement, ergonomic issues related to “bob and weave,” back injury and pain, and binocular vision correction. He noted that most of the solutions to these problems are unlikely to be successful because they are too high-tech and complex; the best way to approach the problem is to get bus manufacturers to work with transit agencies as a cooperative team effort. Also, although APTA has not actively put forth any advocacy regarding these issues, it has not given any push-back either, and has been helpful in facilitating a webinar to open the dialogue. Legislation and regulation is very slow to react. Paul Goyette emphasized the importance of “designing out the hazard,” and making it a positive, collaborative effort, rather than something confrontational. View Presentation
  • Karen Diegl described a recent incident at Indian River Transit in which a passenger de-boarded, went behind the bus to cross the street, ran out into traffic, and was struck by a car. Ms. Diegl then asked the group for input regarding what agencies can do to protect passengers by making them aware of being safe while de-boarding. The following comments/suggestions/concerns were voiced:
    • Star Metro asks passengers to wait for the bus to leave the stop prior to passengers crossing the roadway;
    • Due to jaywalking in the beach area, LeeTran used a literature campaign and posts signage in the bus, as well as having operators remind alighting passengers to “have a great day and please remember to cross safely;”
    • Automated announcements can be helpful;
    • So many of the younger generation have earpieces in their ears and so don’t hear warnings or announcements;
    • Bike racks can be a hazard when passengers assume the driver knows who has bikes and is not distracted by boarding passengers;
    • Bus pull-offs are great for passenger safety (although not so great for drivers, who often have to fight their way back into traffic)
    • Steve Berry of LYNX mentioned that this is a good opportunity to use simulator training (practice makes perfect);
    • Jaywalking needs to be enforced;
    • Mid-block crosswalks with enforced signaling for pedestrians to cross to get to their destination would help;
    • Victor Wiley of FDOT emphasized that there is no “magic bullet” solution (for instance, pull-outs are great but also expensive), and that a multi-faceted approach that takes into account training, stop placement, and public awareness is needed.
  • Colin Mulloy presented on the use of supervisors to improve placement and route timing as part of JTA’s Route Optimization Initiative. Under the Initiative, JTA in December completely changed its legacy system (which was designed for the Jacksonville of 30 years ago). To a large degree, this involved stop placement/safety. Hundreds of stops were removed or relocated, which brought to the surface many operational vs. safety issues that needed to be addressed. Part of the Initiative involved assigning four service delivery managers to four specific geographic areas, which has created more direct operational and safety accountability, as well as allowing more direct contact between operators and supervisors. Crosswalk and pedestrian issues have been examined and more explicit signage was added. In addition, preliminary hazard assessments are being conducted on all routes. JTA is also phasing out rear end advertising because Emma the Dog of Morgan and Morgan is involved in 30% of the rear end collisions in Jacksonville. Brian Sherlock mentioned that there are lighting options that can offer potential solutions. In response, Victor urged the group to seek advice from FDOT’s Robert Westbrook (850-414-4533) prior to installing any lighting solutions, as there may be legal issues involved.
  • Brian Pessaro of CUTR provided an update of the research project Strategies to Prevent, Reduce, and Mitigate Bus Collisions. Findings included the fact that there is no single cause, and no geographic trends or correlation to rear-end advertising. Also, it was usually found that there is nothing the bus operator could have done to prevent the collision. Brian reminded the group that a few sight visits to transit agencies were left to be done.

Distracted Driving Committee – Lydia Chung, Chair (PalmTran)

  • Lydia began the discussion by pointing out that newer technologies (such as cell phone watches or headpieces that are worn like necklaces and can be hidden under shirt collars) are much more easily concealed than older technologies. There is a need to increase awareness. At PalmTran, operators are asked not to use any sort of technology while driving their personal vehicles, because the use can become habit.
  • Colin Mulloy brought up the question of other distractions, such as having a snack, and what the various agency policies are. Lydia stated that PalmTran’s operators are allowed to snack while stopped, and are encouraged to bring easily consumable things such as grapes or sandwiches cut into small pieces to allow for quick easy access at a red light; however, no eating is allowed while the vehicle is in motion. Paul Goyette responded that you have to be careful about eating policies because of diabetics, and other issues that could arise. LeeTran doesn’t specify exactly when snacking is allowed, preferring to use a “common sense” policy instead.One of the representatives from ATU mentioned that there are too many “required” distractions like texts sent from dispatch, and that it can really hinder an operator’s ability to pay attention and perform job duties safely.
  • Jennifer Flynn provided a brief status report on the update of CUTR’s Distracted Driving Computer Based Training (CBT) course. The existing CBT has been expanded to include distractions beyond wireless communication devices, and has been updated to include: new and most recent statistics, expanded coverage of technology, impact of personal life stressors on operators, coverage of passenger interactions, distractions from seasonal fluctuations in roadway activity, relationship between fitness for duty and distractibility, and recommendations to take advantage of agency-provided assistance programs such as EAP. The draft training script, which incorporated these revisions/additions, has been completed and approved. Brian Sherlock suggested that in the future it may be beneficial to look into the issue of fatigue associated with computer-based schedules. Diana Byrnes pointed out that any discussion in the CBT that deals with fitness for duty ought to include the topic of prescription and OTC medications.

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

  • Steve began the discussion by describing some recent incidents at LYNX regarding passenger/operator assaults. He noted that the exact incident that led to the escalation(s) is still unclear, and mentioned that transcripts can be very helpful in identifying people’s trigger points. Another challenge is the issue of employee turnaround- people are changing jobs more often, there are more unfamiliar faces, which means more for agencies to keep up with in general. Steve also mentioned the possibility of learning from other similar (non-public) transportation service providers, such as Disney. The key discussion takeaway was that, although training and refresher training are very important, an agency should put the focus even earlier, back to the date of hire, and pay attention to hiring practices and what kind of people the industry should be hiring (and not hiring). Someone pointed out that the philosophy behind SMS is training too, and that when it comes to training, it is important to use a customized rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Jan Davis of CUTR provided an update on the research project Examination of Passenger Assaults on Bus Transit Systems. She discussed many of the specifics of the way these incidents are reported and documented through the National Transit Database (NTD), as well as what was discovered by interviewing agencies. A core finding is that NTD does not capture a lot of what is going on; there are a large number of incidents that go unreported because they are not considered “reportable” according to NTD threshold requirements. Lisa reminded the group that, regardless of NTD requirements, agencies should be tracking and trending their data relating to these types of incidents so that we can all work together to assure safety.
  • Diana Byrnes of CUTR shared the following substance abuse-related updates and announcements with the group:
    LeeTran will be hosting FTA one-day seminar November 5th;

    • The first cohort of the FDOT drug and alcohol certification course is about to wrap up;
    • The Substance Abuse Management (SAM) listserv is up and running, so members should feel free to post specific topics; and
    • FTA’s two-day Annual Drug and Alcohol Conference will be held in Sacramento in March- registration is free, and attendance is highly recommended as a way to have one-on-one time with auditors.
  • Victor mentioned that the new Third Party Administrator (TPA) contract will begin January 1st, and will be posted on the SAM website as well.

Fatigue Committee – Don Worrell, Chair (StarMetro)

  • Don began the discussion by noting that fatigue is such a challenge because it has so many different causes. It can be sleep related or due to medication, as well as personal issues such as single parenthood or people who must travel a long way to work. Victor mentioned the importance of dealing with disciplinary actions as separate from fitness for duty. There was agreement from other participants that operators should not have to fear being fired if they make a supervisor or dispatch aware that they are too tired to perform their job duties safely; however, there has to be responsibility on the operator as well. Employees have to work, and management has to delegate resources.
  • An ATU representative pointed out that fatigue increases throughout the day, and stated that 14-90 is too lax of a standard and that employers refuse to go above and beyond; instead, they simply wait for the state mandates on these issues. Victor recommended TCRP Report 14-02, Transit Agency Intergovernmental Agreements: Common Issues and Solutions, as a helpful resource.

Safety Training Committee – Paul Goyette, Chair (LeeTran)

  • Paul announced his latest initiative of developing safety, security, and emergency management training for all LeeTran employees. He recommended all agencies immediately implement emergency evacuation procedures, active shooter training (or at least an evaluation of whether it should be done), and situational awareness. These are tips that can save lives. He has created a presentation on the training that will be shared on the FTSN website.
  • Paul echoed past recommendations from Dave Kelsey and Jim Egbert to have a base assessment from Homeland Security- they will assess your “threat and vulnerabilities,” which is very helpful, and you have nothing to lose.
  • Paul brought up the issue of employee selection, and that he’d like to see more of a dialogue on training hiring managers.
  • Paul also mentioned that more needs to be done regarding sensitivity training and de-escalation techniques, perhaps through the use of CBT and interactive video training (role playing is both fun and effective), remedial annual training for everyone (not just operators), chemical and biological training (simple and short, just the basics), and training on radio communications. He offered to share an instructor guide (in draft format) for online instructors that covers core fundamentals.
  • With regard to the fact that Florida’s state triennial reviews will now be incorporating on-board analysis of drivers, Paul suggested that agencies could also gain a lot through on-board monitoring of their operators, although this should not be done with a “Big Brother” attitude.
  • Colin Mulloy asked if many agencies have defibrillators or AEDs in their buildings. There was a mixed yes/no response, and several attendees voiced the concern of having AEDs but little or no training or knowledge of how to use them.

Other FTSN Member Discussions/Presentations

CDLs and Medical Examination Requirements – Victor Wiley, FDOT

Victor addressed some of the confusion that has arisen regarding FMCSR standards and who has oversight responsibility for public transit with regard to CDLs and medical examination requirements. A webinar will be conducted providing further explanation of this issue. In the interim, Victor encouraged those who needed assistance to call him directly.

TRACS Update – Victor Wiley, FDOT

Victor urged attendees to read the recent Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) report on transit worker assaults (TRACS Report 14-01) and fatigue (TRACS Report 14-02), noting that addressing hours of service and spread time issues alone is not enough. The report identifies the major organizational and behavioral challenges in addressing transit employee fatigue, and recommends components of a successful fatigue management program, such as providing mandatory fatigue awareness training for all safety-sensitive personnel.

MAP-21 Update – Lisa Staes, CUTR

Lisa provided a brief reminder to monitor FTA issued Notices of Proposed Rulemaking and provide comments to those that impact them. She also directed them to the materials in the meeting packet related to the recently released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Public Transportation Safety Program.

FTSN Committee Structure and Chair/Co-Chair Appointments

Victor announced the desire to establish one or two new committees, especially in consideration of all the new federal initiatives that have been coming out. He urged attendees to submit ideas to Lisa.

Other Announcements from FTSN Members

  • Lisa announced that the next FTSN quarterly meeting will take place December 9th or 10th, and will likely be in the northeast part of Florida.
  •  Colin Mulloy announced that JTA is hiring for two safety positions.

LeeTran Tour

The meeting concluded with a tour of LeeTran’s impressive new facilities. Many thanks to Paul Goyette (and LeeTran) for being a gracious host for the Florida Transit Safety Network quarterly meeting!