U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Mortimer Downey has unveiled a new initiative to ensure "the highest levels of safety in the nation’s mass transit," as he put it. Called Safety Action Plan 2000, it will be implemented by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Downey announced the plan at the APTA Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C., last week.
Key items in the initiative will include:
Enhance its data collection and analysis in order to guide future activities aimed at improving transit
Look more closely at human factors such as fatigue and substance abuse, and their impact on safety
Partner with APTA in revising the FTA’s rail safety guidelines
Promote bus safety, in partnership with the industry, by strengthening bus safety oversight in cooperation with the newly created (on January 1) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Revise the current safety oversight rule to more effectively integrate system safety concepts in the planning, design and construction process
Cooperate with other DOT agencies to ensure that safety is embedded into the metropolitan and statewide planning and project development processes as specified in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA 21).
The plan was developed in a joint effort with transit operators, associations and others in the industry through an interdepartmental task force of transportation professionals and safety experts. The task force was convened in April 1999 to examine the federal role in transit safety.
Downey did not elaborate on many other details of the initiative, however. "Safety continues to be this administration's and the department’s highest transportation priority, and we are seeing progress as fatalities in virtually every mode of transportation have been reduced, including transit," he said. "But we should not be complacent, because there is always room for improvement. Transit is a safe mode of transportation, and we can make it even safer."