On Monday, TriMet's GM Neil McFarlane rolled out two initiatives to improve the safety of bus and MAX operations in the aftermath of the April fatal bus accident that occurred in downtown Portland.
The agency is currently in the midst of a top-to-bottom safety review that began shortly after the accident. The review is being led by an independent safety expert affiliated with the National Safety Council. Phase I of the review was released in early June, and the agency is tracking the recommendations and determining next steps.
TriMet has already implemented changes to several bus lines, as well as its courtesy stop policy.
McFarlane will immediately implement two key recommendations from Phase I. He has begun recruiting for a Director of Safety and Security that will report directly to the general manager. Previously, the position reported three levels down in the organization.
The other recommendation being implemented is requiring all personal electronic devices be turned off while operating a bus or train. TriMet's policy had been only that personal electronic devices be out of sight but not turned off.
The third announcement McFarlane made was the formation of a Safety and Service Excellence Task Force. The task force includes a variety of stakeholders and expertise to further the work of the comprehensive safety review. The panel includes key areas of expertise, including a traffic engineer, public safety, professional drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and a TriMet bus and rail operator.
The Safety and Service Excellence Task Force will begin work in July and expect to complete their charge in October. In addition to reviewing the comprehensive safety review, the panel will research issues and solicit public comment before developing findings and recommendations. The task force will report directly to the general manager and will be led by former TriMet GMTom Walsh.