The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the formation of a new safety group, the Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) that will assist the FTA with developing national safety standards for rail transit.
In December 2009, the Obama Administration sent Congress the President’s Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009, which would authorize the USDOT to establish federal safety standards for rail transit systems, reversing a prohibition that has been in effect since 1965. If the final legislation is passed by Congress and signed by the President, the Committee will guide the FTA’s safety rulemaking agenda.
The legislation is the first time any Administration has sent a bill to Congress specifically about transit. It is appropriately focused on improving safety oversight. Currently, FTA is prohibited from implementing national safety standards or performing oversight of the State Safety Organizations (SSO).
The recommendations of TRACS will help FTA develop new policies and practices and, should FTA be given authority to promulgate new transit safety requirements, new regulations for enhancing rail transit safety.
The 20 individuals who will initially serve on TRACS were chosen from among 79 applicants from all geographic regions in the U.S., representing state and local transit agencies, state safety oversight organizations, transit employee unions, industry associations, and other stakeholders.
Qualifications sought for TRACS members included expertise in the field of safety or rail transit operations or maintenance, and representation of stakeholder interests that would be affected by rail transit safety requirements. Applicants were also evaluated based on policy experience, leadership, and organization skills, region of the country, and diversity characteristics. TRACS members are:
• William Bates, Amtrak Conductor, United Transportation Union (Local 1933) Legislative Representative and Vice Local Chair, Richmond, Va.
• Bernadette Bridges, Executive Director of the Office of Safety and Risk Management, Maryland Transit Administration, Baltimore.
• Eric Cheng, Programs Manager, Federal Railroad Crossing Safety Improvement, Utah Department of Transportation, Salt Lake City.
• Diane Davidson, Director of The Center for Transportation Analysis, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville, Tenn.
• Joe Diaz, Manager of Safety, Security and Training, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, Tampa, Fla.
• James Dougherty, Chief Safety Officer, Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, Washington, D.C.
• David Genova, Assistant GM for Safety, Security Facilities, Denver Regional Transportation District, Denver.
• Georgetta Gregory, Rail Safety Group, California Public Utilities Commission, Sacramento, Calif.
• William Grizard, Staff Auditor, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, D.C.
• Leonard Hardy, Manager of Operations-Safety Division, Bay Area Rapid Transit District, San Francisco.
• Henry Hartberg, Senior Manger-Safety (Bus and Rail), Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority, Dallas.
• Rick Inclima, Director of Safety, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, Washington, D.C.
• Jackie Jeter, President/Business Agent/Safety Officer, Amalgamated Transit Union, Washington, D.C.
• Linda Kleinbaum, Deputy Executive Director of Administration, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York.
• Amy Kovalan, Chief Safety and Security Officer/Senior Vice President-Safety, Security and Rick Compliance, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago.
• Richard Krisak, Assistant GM Rail Operations, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta.
• Tamara Lesh, Deputy General Counsel, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District, Portland, Ore.
• Pamela McCombe, Director of Safety, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland, Ohio.
• Alvin Pearson, Assistant GM, Memphis Area Transit Authority, Memphis, Tenn.
• Ed Watt, Director of Health and Safety, Transport Workers Union of American, New York.