Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld announced an expansion of the agency's confidential Close Call Transit Safety Reporting System to include Metrobus employees, becoming the first bus transit agency in the nation to implement such a program.
In 2013, Metro became the first rail transit agency in the nation to implement a confidential Close Call Transit Safety Reporting System. The program will allow bus employees, including those represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 922 to report safety concerns that otherwise might go unreported without fear of possible discipline.
Beginning next month, Metrobus employees who see or experience unsafe conditions can submit a report to U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). To maintain confidentiality, BTS removes all identifying information, conducts interviews with employees who submit reports, and then presents information about emerging trends and new sources of risks to a joint Metro/Labor committee known as the Peer Review Team.
This trained team, which works under a strict confidentiality agreement required by BTS, will meet regularly to establish root causes of reported events and recommend actions Metro should take to stop them from reoccurring. The preventive safety actions are reviewed, approved and implemented by Metro management.
Operations employees receive information about the safety actions resulting from their Close Call Reports via a quarterly newsletter that is distributed by both management and the unions and is posted on a special BTS website set up for the program.
Close call reporting programs, which originated in the 1970’s in aviation, have worked well in freight and commuter rail environments. While Metro has instituted many safety initiatives to report safety concerns, close call reporting provides another avenue of reporting incidents confidentially, which will enable employees to keep a constant focus and attention to safety. These incidents will not be subject to administrative discipline, but the knowledge of their existence is critical in maintaining a sound safety culture.