The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on May 31 released an updated version of the National Public Transportation Safety Plan encouraging the public to submit comments on the proposed changes.
The draft of the updated safety plan, which was reauthorized under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and “creates a blueprint for transit agencies to adopt stronger safety measures,” was published in the May 31 edition of the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period.
According to FTA, proposed updates to the National Public Transportation Safety Plan, which “align with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) goal to make transportation systems safer for all people” and would replace the original plan (download below) published in January 2017, include several performance measures, such as strategies to reduce the incidents and rates of vehicle collisions, transit worker injuries and fatalities, and transit worker assaults.
FTA also proposes new performance measures for Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) risk reduction programs, which it says will be used by joint labor-management safety committees to “set targets and assess the effectiveness of safety mitigation strategies.” FTA also proposes new practices for transit agencies to ensure public and personnel safety during an emergency.
The National Public Transportation Safety Plan, FTA says, is the Administration’s “primary guidance document to improve transit safety performance on all federally supported public transportation systems and includes best practices, tools, technical assistance, voluntary standards, and other resources.” Additionally, the plan lays out a performance-based approach to reduce injuries and fatalities on transit systems under FTA’s safety jurisdiction. This plan, FTA adds, also supports the Department’s long-term goal of reaching zero fatalities on America’s roadways as part of the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy by adding safety performance criteria for vehicular collisions and providing voluntary standards for bus transit.
“Safety remains our top priority, and this updated National Public Transportation Safety Program will help make a safe transportation option even safer,” said Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “This updated guidance incorporates new requirements in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and we look forward to working closely with transit agencies across the country on further improving safety for workers and riders.”
“As millions of Americans take transit to jobs, schools, and other daily activities, we must continue to ensure safety remains the top priority,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “These proposed updates enhance FTA’s safety framework, as future safety-related rules, regulations, and guidance will be informed by the National Public Transportation Safety Plan.”
The National Public Transportation Safety Plan was open for public comment in the Federal Register for a 60-day comment period, concluding on July 31, 2023.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on July 26 sent a two-page comment letter (download below) to FTA to express its support, in the main, regarding the agency’s effort to update its National Public Transportation Safety Plan.
“AASHTO concurs with FTA that public transit is one of the safest modes of transportation available to many Americans and emphasizes the continual commitment state departments of transportation make to maintaining and improving the safety of transit systems,” the letter said.
“Though state DOTs have diverse roles in transit operations within their states, state DOTs operate predominantly through FTA Section 5310 and 5311 to support public transportation in rural and small urban communities and for older Americans and people with disabilities through cooperation with transit agencies and operators,” the organization added. “State DOTs work closely with sub-recipients to ensure [they] have the technical resources to manage the safety of transit services, focusing on safety programs such as driver training, drug and alcohol compliance, vehicle maintenance and specification standards, and National Transit Database safety data reporting.”
However, AASHTO reiterated in its letter that it is “critically important” for FTA to align its proposed National Safety Plan updates with its proposed Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan or PTASP revisions by “maintaining the deferral of regulatory action” on operators of a public transportation system that only receives federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. 5310, 49 U.S.C. 5311, or both 49 U.S.C. 5310 and 49 U.S.C. 5311.