FTA launches voluntary examination of Chicago rail, bus operations

Posted on November 26, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is conducting a voluntary safety examination of the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) rail and bus transit system. This is in response to the CTA’s formal request for safety collaboration earlier this year.

The purpose of the examination is to help CTA assess the strengths and weaknesses of the safety of operations and identify areas where the agency can further reduce risks and make other safety improvements. This is the first safety examination FTA has undertaken in keeping with its new safety regulatory authority under MAP-21.

“Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to working with our transportation partners nationwide to ensure that safety operations receive the attention they require,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We will continue to work closely with the CTA to make sure that they receive the greatest benefits from this assessment.”

The safety examination is an opportunity for CTA to test the effectiveness of a Safety Management System (SMS) approach and gather critical data to establish the agency’s safety risk profile. FTA has formally adopted SMS, which is widely used in other transportation industries, to support comprehensive programs and performance as a means of implementing its new safety regulatory provisions.

SMS focuses on organization-wide safety policy, proactive hazard management, strong safety communication between workers and management, targeted safety training and clear responsibilities for critical safety activities.

The safety examination, scheduled to begin December 1 in Chicago, will include an SMS gap analysis, including SMS training across several levels of CTA and a safety culture assessment survey for front-line personnel and supervisors; a rail safety assessment, whereby FTA will conduct an evaluation of CTA’s rail operations and maintenance programs to acquire the safety information and data needed to support meaningful analysis of safety risks; and a bus safety assessment, conducted in a similar manner to the rail safety assessment.

Early next year, FTA and CTA will summarize the results of this assessment and develop a roadmap to help CTA build a mature and effective SMS process.

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