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In 1991, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a series of recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regarding the need for safety oversight of rail transit agencies by state government. In response to these recommendations, Congress added section 28 to the Federal Transit Act (codified at 49 U.S.C. section 5330). Based on this new authority, FTA developed a rule creating the first-ever, state-managed safety and security oversight program for rail transit agencies not regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This regulation was published as "Rail Fixed Guideway Systems; State Safety Oversight" on December 27, 1995 (codified at 49 CFR Part 659), subsequently referred to as the SSO Rule or Part 659. The safety requirements for Part 659 went into effect on January 1, 1997, and the security requirements went into effect one year later. FTA recently revised Part 659 in a Final Rule published on April 29, 2005.
FTA’s SSO rule stipulates that, among other activities, agencies designated by states to oversee rail transit safety and security must make annual reports to FTA. To facilitate this reporting, each January, FTA distributes an Annual Reporting Template to all SSO agencies. This template captures data pertaining to all reportable accidents, determined probable causes, corrective action plans, changes to program documentation, and agency resource allocation. SSO agencies submit their completed annual reports to FTA by March 15th of each year for the preceding calendar year.
The 2005 SSO Annual Report presents safety data provided by the individual SSO agencies and offers industry-wide analysis regarding the types of accidents occurring, their probable causes, and the corresponding impacts of these accidents on passengers, employees, and property. This report documents the safety performance of the rail transit industry for the calendar year 2005 and includes comparison data from the previous two years. Results from this analysis may assist SSO and rail transit agencies in addressing 49 CFR Part 659 requirements and in developing management structures and work programs to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate safety and security-related programs for passenger service.
SSO and rail transit agencies can also use information provided in this report to identify accident trends, emerging issues, and to benchmark their performance against the industry average. Using this information, all involved parties can work more effectively toward the goal of eliminating transit-related deaths, injuries, and property damage.
FTA relies on the analysis of SSO annual report data to direct its safety oversight and technical assistance efforts toward those areas involving the highest risks for rail transit agencies. FTA also uses the evaluation of annual report data to determine the effectiveness of its own programs and to identify where improvements can be made.
The community of states and rail transit agencies affected by 49 CFR Part 659 has grown considerably over the last decade. Prior to 1997, there were six (6) designated SSO agencies overseeing the operations of 12 rail transit agencies. In 1997, when Part 659 went into effect, 19 SSO agencies were established to oversee 36 rail transit agencies. In 2005, 26 SSO agencies provided oversight to 44 rail transit agencies. By 2009, as many as six (6) new rail transit agencies and two (2) new oversight agencies may join the program.
Exhibit 1 below shows all States and rail transit agencies affected by Part 659 in 2005 and those states and rail transit agencies that will be affected within the next three years.
Exhibit 1: State Safety Oversight Community Map
Rail transit agencies in the SSO program provide three modes of service:
Exhibit 2 identifies the SSO agencies and rail transit agencies affected by 49 CFR Part 659 in 2005
Exhibit 2: State Safety Oversight Community, 2005
|Region||State||State Oversight Agency||Rail Transit Agency||Modes of Service|
|1||MA||Massachusetts Dept .of Tele. and Energy||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority||Heavy Rail, Light Rail|
|2||NJ||New Jersey Department of Transportation||New Jersey Transit – Newark City Subway||Light Rail|
|2||NJ||New Jersey Department of Transportation||New Jersey Transit – Hudson-Bergen||Light Rail|
|2||NJ||New Jersey Department of Transportation||New Jersey Transit – River Line||Light Rail|
|2||NJ||New Jersey Department of Transportation||Port Authority Transit Corporation||Heavy Rail|
|2||NY||New York Public Trans. Safety Board||New York City Transit||Heavy Rail|
|2||NY||New York Public Trans. Safety Board||Niagara Frontier Transit Authority||Light Rail|
|3||DC/VA/MD||Tri-State Oversight Committee||Washington Metro. Area Transit Authority||Heavy Rail|
|3||MD||Maryland Department of Transportation||Maryland Transit Administration||Heavy Rail, Light Rail|
|3||PA||Penn. Department of Transportation||Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority||Heavy Rail, Light Rail|
|3||PA||Penn. Department of Transportation||Port Authority of Allegheny County||Light Rail, Inclined Plane|
|3||PA||Penn. Department of Transportation||Cambria County Transit Authority||Inclined Plane|
|4||FL||Florida Department of Transportation||Metro-Dade Transit Authority||Heavy Rail, Auto. Guideway|
|4||FL||Florida Department of Transportation||Jacksonville Transportation Authority||Automated Guideway|
|4||FL||Florida Department of Transportation||Hillsborough Area Regional Transit||Light Rail|
|4||GA||Georgia Department of Transportation||Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority||Heavy Rail|
|4||NC||North Carolina Dept. of Transportation||Charlotte Area Transit System – Trolley Line||Light Rail|
|4||PR||Puerto Rico State Emer. & Dis. Mgmt. Agency||Tren Urbano||Heavy Rail|
|4||TN||Tennessee Department of Transportation||Chattanooga Area Rapid Transit Authority||Inclined Plan|
|4||TN||Tennessee Department of Transportation||Memphis Area Transit Authority||Light Rail|
|5||IL||Regional Transportation Authority||Chicago Transit Authority||Heavy Rail|
|5||MI||Michigan Department of Transportation||Detroit People Mover||Automated Guideway|
|5||MN||Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety/State Patrol||Hiawatha Metro Transit||Light Rail|
|5||OH||Ohio Department of Transportation||Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority||Heavy Rail, Light Rail|
|5||WI||Wisconsin Department of Transportation||Kenosha Transit||Light Rail|
|6||AR||Arkansas State Highway and Trans. Dept.||Little Rock River Rail||Light Rail|
|6||LA||Louisiana Department of Trans. and Devel.||New Orleans Regional Transit Authority||Light Rail|
|6||TX||Texas Department of Transportation||Galveston Island Transit||Light Rail|
|6||TX||Texas Department of Transportation||Dallas Area Rapid Transit||Light Rail|
|6||TX||Texas Department of Transportation||Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County||Light Rail|
|7||IL||St. Clair County Transit District||Bi-State Development Agency(St Louis Metro)||Light Rail|
|7||MO||Missouri Department of Transportation||Bi-State Development Agency(St Louis Metro)||Light Rail|
|8||CO||Colorado Public Utilities Commission||Denver Regional Transit District||Light Rail|
|8||UT||Utah Department of Transportation||Utah Transit Authority||Light Rail|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||Bay Area Rapid Transit||Heavy Rail|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||Los Angeles County Metro. Trans. Authority||Heavy Rail, Light Rail|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||San Francisco Municipal Railway||Light Rail, Cable Cars|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||San Diego Trolley, Inc.||Light Rail|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||Sacramento Regional Transit District||Light Rail|
|9||CA||California Public Utilities Commission||Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority||Light Rail|
|10||OR||Oregon Department of Transportation||Portland Tri-Met||Light Rail|
|10||OR||Oregon Department of Transportation||Portland Streetcar||Light Rail|
|10||WA||Washington State Department of Trans.||Seattle Center Monorail||Automated Guideway|
|10||WA||Washington State Department of Trans.||Sound Transit – Tacoma Link||Light Rail|
For Calendar Year 2005, SSO agencies used the accident thresholds established in the original 49 CFR Part 659:
For each event meeting the above-listed thresholds in 2005, the rail transit agency notified the SSO agency. The SSO agency then either conducted an independent accident investigation, or authorized the rail transit agency to conduct the investigation on its behalf.
Each investigation resulted in report, which was adopted by the SSO agency. This report, at a minimum, provided a description of investigation activities, identified causal and contributing factors for the accident, and included a corrective action plan, to be implemented by the rail transit agency to prevent accident recurrence. Each corrective action plan was reviewed and approved by the SSO agency, and its implementation monitored by the SSO agency.
Beginning in Calendar Year 2006, FTA’s annual reporting thresholds will change to reflect the revised SSO rule (Part 659.33). These new thresholds include any event that results in the following:
These new thresholds are more closely aligned with information reported by rail transit agencies to the National Transit Database (NTD), Safety and Security Incident Reporting Module. In its revised final rule for 49 CFR Part 659, FTA adopted the new thresholds with the intention of conforming the two reporting systems to: reduce reporting burdens; provide SSO agencies with access to NTD reports to supplement their oversight activity; and provide for independent SSO agency verification of NTD data.
To interpret data reported for 2005 and to establish trends and rates, FTA uses traditional measures of transportation service, including unlinked passenger trips, vehicle revenue miles, vehicle revenue hours, and passenger miles.
For 2005, as depicted in Exhibit 3, the 26 SSO agencies reported the following service information for the 44 rail transit agencies in the SSO program. In each category of service, rail transit agencies have experienced considerable growth over the last decade.
Exhibit 3: Rail Transit Industry Service Information, 2005
|Mode||Unlinked Passenger Trips||Vehicle Revenue Miles||Vehicle Revenue Hours||Passenger Miles|
In 2005, rail transit agencies under the State Safety Oversight Program reported over 3.1 billion unlinked passenger trips. This level of ridership marks an increase of over 300 million annual passenger trips since 1999. Also, since 1999, there has also been a steady increase in the number of:
For FTA’s annual report, accidents are grouped into four categories:
Exhibit 4 presents the impacts of FTA-reportable accidents between 2003 and 2005 in terms of fatalities and injuries.
Exhibit 4: FTA-Reportable Accidents and Impacts, 2003 - 2005
|Category||2003 Fatalities||2003 Injuries||2004 Fatalities||2004 Injuries||2005 Fatalities||2005 Injuries||Total Fatal ties||Total Injuries|
Between 2003 and 2005, SSO agencies reported that the rail transit agencies in their jurisdictions experienced:
“Other” accidents include a range of events such as accidents on escalators, elevators and stairs; slips, trips and falls in stations; injuries boarding and deboarding rail cars; car door injuries; and injuries resulting from sudden train starts and stops. Certain types of employee accidents and accidents involving non-passengers also fall into the “other” category.
When standardized by unlinked passenger trips, the rates of occurrence for collisions, derailments and fires, and other accidents between 2003 and 2005 are depicted in Exhibit 5. In spite of the growing number of rail transit agencies in the SSO program between 2003 and 2005, this exhibit shows decreasing trend rates for collisions, derailment and fires. Rates for “other” accidents varied considerably over the three-year period, reaching an all-time high of 12.29 accidents per 10 million passenger trips in 2004.
Exhibit 5: Rail Transit Accident Rates per 10 Million Passenger Trips, 2003 - 2005
Exhibits 6 through 8 depict categories of reportable accidents and impacts by mode.
Exhibit 6: Heavy Rail – FTA-Reportable Accident Impacts, 2003 – 2005
Exhibit 7: Light Rail – FTA-Reportable Accident Impacts, 2003 – 2005
Exhibit 8: Other Rail – FTA-Reportable Accident Impacts, 2003 – 2005
When broken down over the three year period between 2003 and 2005:
When the data provided by the SSO agencies regarding the total number of accidents, fatalities and injuries are standardized, by mode, using unlinked passenger trips, the following rates result, depicted in Exhibit 9:Exhibit 9: Rates per 10 Million Passenger Trips, 2003 – 2005
|Category||Accident Rate||Fatality Rate||Injury Rate|
|Year||Heavy Rail.||Light Rail||Other Rail||Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Other Rail||Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Other Rail|
Exhibit 9 demonstrates that heavy rail agencies, in spite of the large number of passengers carried, maintain accident, fatality and injury rates significantly below the rates experienced by light rail agencies. “Other” rail transit agencies experience the lowest accident and injury rates of all modes reporting to FTA’s SSO program, with fatality rates in this mode varying from lowest to highest in comparison to light rail and heavy rail agencies over the three year period.
Collectively, these rates for rail transit compare quite favorably to other modes of transportation, and show not only that rail transit provides a convenient and attractive alternative to traveling by automobile, but also that it is far safer. For example, when compared to accident, fatality and injury rates established by the National Safety Council, in their 2005-2006 Injury Facts, passengers on rail transit systems, on average, are 40 times less likely to be involved in a fatality accident, and 20 times less likely to be involved in an accident resulting in injury. Likewise, the NTSB in its Annual Safety Report for 2005, shows that of the 45,650 fatalities attributed to transportation in 2005, rail transit, with less than 75 fatalities, is responsible for only .15 percent of the total.
However, as indicated in Exhibit 10, there is great variability in rail transit accident, fatality and injury rates. Significant accidents continue to occur, and, when they do, the corresponding rates for accidents, injuries and fatalities fluctuate considerably by mode.
Exhibit 10: Trended Rates per 10 Million Passenger Trips by Mode, 2003 – 2005
As indicated in Exhibit 10, between 2003 and 2005, the accident rate increased by 5 percent for heavy rail transit agencies and 17 percent for light rail agencies. The accident rate ranged dramatically for the other rail transit agencies, from .53 at its lowest to 9.04 at its highest. Between 2003 and 2005, the fatality rate decreased by 43 percent for the heavy rail agencies affected by Part 659; remained relatively stable for the light rail agencies affected by Part 659; and increased sharply for the other rail transit agencies affected by Part 659. Finally, between 2003 and 2005, the injury rate remained stable for the heavy rail agencies; increased by 30 percent for the light rail agencies, and decreased by 89 percent for the other rail transit agencies affected by Part 659.
The challenge for rail transit is to stabilize these low rates and to work to further reduce fatalities and injuries even as the total number of people using transit increases.
For the past three years, FTA has required SSO agencies to submit probable cause data for each reportable accident. FTA has established a list of standard probable causes for collisions, derailments, and fires, as well as a separate set of categories for “other” accidents. SSO agencies use these pre-defined causes to assign a probable cause to reported accidents.
Established probable causes are listed below.
Probable causes for collisions, derailments and fires:
Probable causes for "other" accidents::
Between 2003 and 2005, 10,232 accidents were reported meeting Part 659 thresholds. Exhibit 11 provides a detailed break-down of reported probable cause for the 10,232 reported accidents by year. Over the three year period, these accidents resulted in 281 fatalities and 10,549 injuries. Exhibit 12 shows the probable causes identified for reportable accidents, fatalities and injuries between 2003 and 2005.
Appendix A provides additional detail on probable causes for fatalities and injuries for all reporting agencies, broken down by heavy rail and light rail modes. Appendix B provides analysis on probable causes by the types of accident reported, by year, and by rail transit mode.
Exhibit 11: Probable Causes of Accidents, 2003 – 2005
|Car Equipment Failure|
|Operating Rule Violation||10||19||14||43|
|Operating Procedures Violation||6||2||10||18|
|Track Component Deficiencies and/or Failures||4||5||1||10|
|Signal Component Deficiencies and/or Failures||1||2||1||4|
|Cable Component Deficiencies and/or Failures||3||2||0||5|
|Actions of Passenger/Station Occupants||449||597||528||1,574|
|Actions of Other Vehicles||98||77||63||238|
|Actions of Pedestrians||36||37||49||122|
|Slips, Trips and Falls||1,696||1,951||2,014||5,661|
|Material from Structure or Train Striking a Passenger||3||6||5||14|
Exhibit 12: Probable Causes of Accidents, Fatalities and Injuries, 2003 – 2005
|Slip, Trips and Falls||5,561||55.33%||13||4.63%||5,702||54.05%|
|Actions of Passengers/Station Occupants||1,574||15.38%||58||20.64%||1,555||14.74%|
|Boarding/Alighting (including car door incidents)||389||3.80%||2||0.71%||393||3.73%|
|Actions of Other Vehicle||238||2.33%||12||4.27%||376||3.56%|
|Actions of Other Pedestrian||122||1.19%||18||6.41%||103||0.98%|
|Human Factors/Human Failure||127||1.24%||6||2.14%||272||2.58%|
|Sudden Train Movement||38||0.37%||0||0.00%||47||0.45%|
|Debris Hitting Passengers from Structure or Train||14||0.14%||1||0.36%||16||0.15%|
|Equipment Failure (including equipment/maintenance issues and component deficiencies and/or failures in track, cable, signals and car equipment)||49||0.48%||0||0.00%||218||2.07%|
The data presented in Exhibits 11 and 12 reflect the reality that the majority of accidents reported by rail transit agencies in the SSO program occur at heavy rail transit agencies (84.6 percent). As such, suicides and suicide attempts; the actions of careless or intoxicated passengers and station occupants; slips, trips and falls in passenger stations; escalator/elevator misuse, malfunction or over-crowding; crowding/carelessness and door malfunctions while boarding/alighting rail vehicles, and employee safety issues caused the majority of fatalities and injuries reported in the SSO program between 2003 and 2005.
Light rail agencies account for 15.1 percent of all accidents reported in the SSO program. These agencies experience significant issues with the actions of other vehicles, the actions of pedestrians and trespassers, and human factors/human failures, including rule violations and inattentiveness. Light rail agencies are also experiencing an increasing number of slips, trips and falls.
Other rail transit agencies account for 0.3 percent of all accidents reported in the SSO program between 2003 and 2005. Other rail transit agencies experience their biggest safety concerns from the actions of other vehicles, equipment failures, and human factors/human failures in system operation.
Based on the information presented in Exhibits 11 and 12, the probable causes of accidents with the most serious consequences in terms of the number of fatalities and injuries include:
This listing excludes suicides (110 fatalities), suicide attempts (100 injuries), homicides (5 fatalities), assaults (739 injuries), and health-related events (9 fatalities and 96 injuries). These events are typically managed through rail transit security programs and public wellness campaigns.
To support SSO agencies and rail transit agencies in managing and preventing, where possible, these accidents and their consequences, FTA has initiatives underway in the following areas:
Each of these initiatives is discussed briefly below.
Passenger Safety in Stations and on Vehicles
As specified in FTA’s revised Part 659.31, a revamped process has been created to ensure an on-going role for SSO agencies in the rail transit agency’s identification and resolution of operating hazards. As explained in the preamble to the revised rule, FTA anticipates that this process will be used to review and support the rail transit agency’s activity to ensure passenger safety in and near stations and while boarding and deboarding vehicles.
FTA’s hazard management process specifies that the oversight agency “must require the rail transit agency to develop and document in its system safety program plan a process to identify and resolve hazards during its operation, including any hazards resulting from subsequent system extensions or modifications, operational changes, or other changes within the rail transit environment.”
As required in 49 CFR Part 659.31 (b), at a minimum, this process must:
Based on the analysis from FTA’s 2005 SSO Annual Report, probable causes for accidents reported by light and heavy rail agencies indicate that, when suicides are excluded, the majority of fatalities and injuries reported to the program result from the types of accidents that are largely addressed through the rail transit agency hazard management process.
Through its SSO Audit Program and new guidance and training being developed, FTA will continue to work with SSO agencies and rail transit agencies in overseeing the hazard management process to support prevention of these types of accidents. Also, FTA is in the process of modifying its highly successful “TransitWatch” program to include additional activities to support the safety and security of passengers in transit stations. TransitWatch is a safety and security awareness program designed to encourage the active participation of transit passengers and employees in maintaining a safe transit environment. Information on the TransitWatch Program is available at:
During this initiative, FTA will evaluate how program materials and recommended practices can be modified to better identify and manage not only security issues, but also risky behavior by passengers on escalators and elevators, on stairwells, boarding and deboarding trains, leaning into trains, and safely navigating rail car doors. Additional activities will focus on developing versions of TransitWatch materials in other languages and to support passengers with disabilities. Additional FTA initiatives will focus on housekeeping issues and new designs for trash cans, to ensure the cleanliness of transit stations and to remove tripping hazards.
To support reductions in collisions, FTA will continue to sponsor research to coordinate with Federal and non-profit agencies and to support the development of standards and recommended practices for use in the rail transit industry and particularly by light rail transit (LRT) agencies.
Research: FTA sponsors an extensive program of research conducted by the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) devoted to the reduction of light rail collisions. To date, FTA has funded three major studies and one research digest:
TCRP, through FTA sponsorship, has just initiated another research project, entitled TCRP Project A-30: Improving Safety Where Light Rail, Pedestrians, and Vehicles Intersect. In this project, FTA is sponsoring this work to build on previous research evaluating safety deficiencies for light rail, at-grade alignments. This research will update and improve upon these past studies by focusing on four sub-areas: compiling data, updating previous studies, analyzing the effectiveness of past practices, and analyzing possible safety enhancements due to technology advancements. To facilitate the compilation of crash figures for this research, a standard form will be developed to enable transit agencies across the country to report comparable at-grade crossing crash data both within and across cities. At a minimum, collision data will include alignment type; type of traffic control devices; train speed; motor vehicle speed (both posted and actual); roadway average daily traffic, roadway and tract geometry; and collision location, time, and date.
FTA is also sponsoring a research project, conducted by Oklahoma State University, to ensure that the results of research regarding effective practices are conveyed to the LRT systems in a manner that ensures their implementation. This project, which will conduct before-and-after studies with light rail agencies around the country, will result in a Best Practices Manual and training program, providing “one stop shopping” for those transit personnel planning, designing, and operating light rail systems. This study will also address new practices, new traffic engineering treatments, and new technologies which may have impacts on system safety. For example, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology now offer the capabilities both to provide signal preemption for light rail transit vehicles and to integrate light rail transit automatic vehicle location systems with traffic signals to reduce queuing in the vicinity of the tracks ahead of light rail transit vehicle arrival.
Coordination: FTA also has forged a partnership with Operation Lifesaver (OLI) to address light rail safety public education and outreach and also to support coordination with driver education training program in States around the country. Since 2004, OLI has been testing program materials for public marketing, education, and communications efforts at seven (7) light rail transit agencies across the country. These materials, which are now available to all LRT systems, free of charge, have been designed to meet specific light rail transit system needs. More information on this program is available at:
FTA continues its partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Highway-Rail Grade Crossing and Trespasser Prevention Division, supporting research, action plans, and safety data analysis. Additional information is available at:
Standards and Recommended Practices: FTA has also worked closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), ensuring that recommendations from the TCRP research and light rail transit system experience are addressed in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). As a result, many of the traffic control devices and engineering treatments recommended in the TCRP 17 and 69 reports have subsequently been incorporated into MUTCD Part 10 - Traffic Controls for Highway-Light Rail Transit Grade Crossings, which is available at:
The MUTCD contains standards for traffic control devices that regulate, warn, and guide road users along the highways and byways in all 50 States. FHWA provides interpretations of MUTCD standards and also offers a Peer-to-Peer Program for Traffic Control Devices (P2P TCD), which provides public agencies with short-term assistance to address specific, technical issues on traffic control devices at no cost to the user. FTA will continue to work with FHWA to support subsequent updates to the MUTCD, and to ensure the use of MUTCD standards in new rail transit projects through on-site assistance and monitoring provided by FTA’s Project Management Oversight (PMO) Program.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) with FTA partnership and funding, has developed a set of standards and recommended practices for rail grade crossing inspections, maintenance, public education and trespass prevention, and rail grade crossing safety assessment and warning systems, including the following:
More information on these materials is available at:
In addition to this work, FTA is also sponsoring research and standards development initiatives to reduce the impact of those collisions that do occur. In recent years, FTA, in sponsoring TCRP Project G-4 and TCRP Project C-17, has supported the development of vehicle standards in partnership with APTA, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Rail Transit Vehicle Interface Standards Committee, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Standards Committee for Rail Transit Vehicles (RT). Additional information is available on these committees at:
The ASME RT Committee is currently developing crashworthiness standards for both light rail and heavy rail vehicles. These standards, which should provide greater protection for passengers, lower the cost of transit railcars and replacement parts, reduce parts inventories, and simplify maintenance, are developed through a consensus-building process. More than 300 individuals representing transit agencies, manufacturers, suppliers, government agencies, and others have been involved in the process, representing significant in-kind contributions by the transit industry. Draft versions of the crashworthiness standards for light and heavy rail vehicles should be available by the end of 2006.
The IEEE, Rail Transit Vehicle Interface Standards Committee, under FTA sponsorship, developed eight standards that were formally approved and published by the IEEE:
A number of other draft standards are in various levels of development by the IEEE, Rail Transit Vehicle Interface Standards Committee Working Groups. FTA’s PMO program works with rail transit projects undertaking vehicle acquisitions or train control upgrades to address the consideration of these standards in their projects.
Rules/Procedures Compliance and Fatigue Management
In FTA’s recent revision of 49 CFR Part 659 (State Safety Oversight Rule), FTA required that each rail transit agency address compliance with operating rules and procedures in its System Safety Program Plan (SSPP) and supporting safety program.
49 CFR Part 659.19 (m) requires in the SSPP “a description of the process used by the rail transit agency to develop, maintain, and ensure compliance with rules and procedures having a safety impact, including:
This process must be reviewed and approved by the SSO agency, and audited on-site at the rail transit agency no less than once every three years through the rail transit agency’s internal safety audit process and through the SSO agency’s three-year safety review process.
To support implementation of this requirement, FTA has provided technical assistance to both rail transit agencies and SSO agencies during annual meetings and workshops, and through training programs offered by the Transportation Safety Institute. In 2007, FTA will establish a “Rules Compliance Working Group” to develop a recommended practice for implementation by the rail transit industry. FTA will also provide training to SSO program managers during annual invitational workshops.
In 1995, NTSB identified fatigue as a primary cause of a New York City Transit fatal accident on the Williamsburg Bridge. NTSB also found fatigue-related causes for two light rail accidents at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. As a result, the NTSB recommended, and Congress directed, FTA to conduct a continuing program of technical assistance and training in fatigue awareness for transit operators. Major activities performed by FTA to date include:
FTA is now working with rail transit agencies and SSO agencies to address a new recommendation issued by NTSB as a result of a collision between two WMATA trains at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Station on November 3, 2004. This recommendation, which was issued on March 23, 2006, requires FTA to: “Require transit agencies, through the system safety program and hazard management process if necessary, to ensure that the time off between daily tours of duty including regular and overtime assignments, allows train operators to obtain at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.” FTA, in partnership with APTA, is also working to develop standards for fatigue management in the rail transit environment.
Transit Worker Safety
As a term of compliance with FTA grant programs, FTA requires construction safety programs and plans for all major capital projects. FTA’s PMO contractors conduct on-site assessments to review the rail transit project’s implementation of these requirements. New guidance being developed to address SAFETEA-LU requirements for Safety and Security Management Plans as part of the Project Management Plan provides additional recommendations for these programs. These guidelines will focus on ensuring the safety of contractors and transit employees working on construction projects and on ensuring that construction projects which impact existing rail transit operations have adequate safety protections in place.
In addition, in FTA’s revised rule, 49 CFR Part 659.19(r), FTA requires, as part of the SSPP, a “description of the safety program for employees and contractors that incorporates the applicable local, state, and federal requirements, including: Safety requirements that employees and contractors must follow when working on, or in close proximity to, rail transit agency property; and processes for ensuring the employees and contractors know and follow the requirements.”
This program must be reviewed and approved by the SSO agency, and audited on-site at the rail transit agency no less than once every three years through the rail transit agency’s internal safety audit process and through the SSO agency’s three-year safety review process.
FTA will also continue to address transit worker safety issues during annual meetings and workshops with rail transit agency and SSO agency personnel and through project construction and management training provided by the National Transit Institute and general rail transit safety training provided by the Transportation Safety Institute.
In FTA’s Rail Transit Safety Action Plan, the results of analysis from the 2005 SSO Annual Report have been combined with the results of analysis from data reported by rail transit agencies to the National Transit Database (NTD) since 2002. Based on this analysis, FTA identified its Top 10 priorities for improving rail transit safety:
The Top 10 priorities identified by FTA in the Rail Transit Safety Action Plan coincide with the results of the analysis presented in this 2005 Annual SSO Report. However, the ranking is somewhat different. Results from the 2005 Annual SSO Report indicate that “Reducing Unsafe Acts by Passengers in Transit Stations” is the most significant priority in terms of consequences to passengers, employees, and others who come into contact with the system. However, as explained in FTA’s Rail Transit Safety Action Plan, priorities and the rankings assigned by FTA are not based only on the numbers of fatalities and injuries, but also on the standardized rates per 10 million passenger trips.
From this perspective, modal distinctions are important. As demonstrated in Exhibit 10, collisions with vehicles, pedestrians and trespassers at rail grade crossings and intersections drive up accident, fatality and injury rates per 10 million passenger trips for light rail agencies. The rates for light rail agencies remain well above the corresponding rates for heavy rail agencies per 10 million passenger trips. In response to the disparity in rates between light rail and heavy rail, FTA made the reduction of these collisions its top priority. In this way, safety resources are focused on ensuring that rail transit passengers receive the same baseline of safety, whether traveling by subway, light rail, or automated guideway.
Improving compliance with operating rules and procedures and reducing the impact of fatigue on transit workers, activities exclusively under the control of the rail transit agency, are the next priorities, and are equally important for both heavy and light rail agencies. FTA then identified reducing unsafe acts by passengers in transit stations as the next priority, which primarily affects heavy rail agencies with stations, mezzanines and parking garages. FTA rounded out the Top 10 by focusing on transit worker safety, safety for passengers with disabilities, good housekeeping practices, improving emergency response, and enhancing safety data acquisition and analysis.
As demonstrated in Exhibit 13, FTA’s Rail Transit Safety Action Plan specifies certain FTA initiatives underway to address each of the Top 10 priorities. More information on each of these initiatives can be found in the Rail Transit Safety Action Plan.
Further, based on information obtained from the NTD, FTA’s Rail Transit Safety Action Plan established performance measures for rail transit agencies. These measures, which appear in Exhibit 14, encourage a 10 percent reduction in significant accident categories by 2008.
Finally, based on information provided in the 2005 Annual SSO Report, in the Rail Transit Safety Action Plan, FTA also identifies target goals for improvement in the SSO Program. Exhibit 15 identifies these goals.
For Calendar Year 2006, SSO agencies will be reporting to FTA using the new thresholds specified in the revised 49 CFR Part 659. These thresholds are more closely aligned with the NTD Major Safety and Security Incident Reporting thresholds and should ensure greater consistency in the data used by FTA to monitor how well the rail transit industry and SSO agencies are meeting FTA’s performance measures and target safety goals. FTA intends to fold all future reporting on the results from SSO Annual Reports into Annual Updates on the Rail Transit Safety Action Plan.
Exhibit 13: FTA's Safety Initiatives
|Passenger Safety in and near Rail Transit Stations:|
|Training session on addressing passenger safety in and near rail transit stations as part of the hazard management process||To be included at the 2007 SSO Program Manager’s Meeting|
|TransitWatch initiative revised to address risky behavior||2007|
|TransitWatch initiative to address housekeeping||2007|
|Guidelines on addressing passenger safety through the hazard management process||To be released in 2008; Working Group to be established in 2007|
|TCRP Project D-10 Audible Signals for Pedestrian Safety in Light Rail Transit Environments||Final Report Released|
|TCRP Project A-30: Improving Safety Where Light Rail, Pedestrians, and Vehicles Intersect||Contract awarded in July 2006; work underway|
|Oklahoma State University Best Practices Manual and Training Program||SOW approved in March 2006; work underway|
|Operation Lifesaver (OLI) Light Rail Public Outreach and Driver Education Materials||On-going FTA committee participation|
|FRA, Highway-Rail Grade Crossing and Trespasser Prevention Division, research, action plans, and safety data analysis||On-going FTA participation; Secretary’s Action Plan to be released soon|
|Update to MUTCD, 2003, Part 10 - Traffic Controls for Highway-Light Rail Transit Grade Crossings||On-going FTA participation|
|APTA rail grade crossing standards and recommended practices||On-going FTA participation|
|Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Rail Transit Vehicle Interface Standards Committee||On-going FTA participation|
|American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Standards Committee for Rail Transit Vehicles (RT)||Crashworthiness standard due in Fall 2006|
|FTA Accident Notification and Investigation Working Group||On-going|
|Training session on rules/procedures compliance assessment methods and techniques||To be included at the 2007 SSO Program Manager’s Meeting|
|Working Group established with industry to develop recommended practice||To be established in 2006|
|Rules/Procedures Compliance Assessment Guidelines developed||To be released by the end of 2007|
|Response to NTSB recommendation R-06-3||Fall 2006|
|Transit Worker Safety:|
|Training session on addressing transit worker safety in the SSO Program||To be included at the 2007 SSO Program Manager’s Meeting|
|New FTA Circular and guidance addressing construction safety and security for major capital projects||2006|
|Revised FTA Project Management Oversight (PMO) guidelines on construction safety and security oversight||2007|
|FTA security initiative and standard on the use and design of trash cans in the rail transit environment||2007|
|Reinstitution of the well-received FTA drill grant program||2007|
|NTD Training and Enhancements:|
|Training session on NTD safety and security reporting for State Oversight Agency and rail transit agency safety personnel||2007|
|NTD logons and passwords for State Oversight Agency personnel||2007|
|Integration of NTD into SSO three-year safety review process||On-going|
|FTA reporting on rail transit agency and State Oversight Agency performance measures and target goals||2007|
|FTA “top ten” safety initiatives website||2007|
Exhibit 14: Rail Transit Industry Safety Performance Target Goals for Improvement
|3-Year Industry Average Rate||Target Goals for Improvement by 2006|
|Performance Measures||Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Heavy Rail||Light Rail|
|Total Safety Incidents per 10 Million Passenger Trips1||23.27||29.86||20.94||26.87|
|Total Safety Incidents per 1 Million Vehicle Miles1||9.96||16.15||8.96||14.54|
|Major Safety Incidents per 10 Million Passenger Trips2||.63||8.58||0.57||7.72|
|Major Safety Incidents per 10 Million Vehicle Miles2||2.74||45.44||2.47||40.90|
|Total Fatalities per 100 Million Passenger Trips (including suicides and trespasser-related deaths)1||2.79||5.51||2.51||4.96|
|Total Injuries per 10 Million Passenger Trips1||16.9||17.1||15.2||15.4|
|Total Collisions per 100 Million Passenger Trips1||5.33||149.08||4.80||134.17|
|Major Collisions per 100 Million Passenger Trips2||1.48||69.44||1.33||62.50|
|Major Rail Grade Crossing Collisions per 10 Million Passenger Trips2||0.01||46.30||0.01||41.67|
|Major Pedestrian and Trespasser Collisions per 10 Million Vehicle Miles2||.56||4.48||0.50||4.03|
|Fatalities from Major Collisions per 100 Million Passenger Miles2||.83||3.8||0.75||3.42|
|Injuries from Major Collisions per 100 Million Passenger Trips2||.77||28.93||0.69||26.04|
|Total Derailments per 100 Million Passenger Miles1||3.92||51.76||3.53||46.58|
|Total Personal Injury Events per 10 Million Passenger Trips1||16.43||12.85||14.78||11.57|
|Total Fires per 10 Million Vehicle Miles1||25.81||4.41||23.23||3.97|
|Major Fires per 10 Million Vehicle Miles2||4.45||.56||4.01||0.50|
|Average Number of Injuries per Incident||.72||.61||0.65||0.55|
|1As reported on both NTD S&S-40 Form “Major Safety and Security Incidents” and NTD S&S-50 Form “Non-Major Summary Report”|
|2 As reported only on the NTD S&S-40 Form “Major Safety and Security Incidents”|
Exhibit 15: SSO Agency Target Goals for Improvement
|Performance Measure||Target Goal for Improvement by 2009|
|Training and Certification||
|Hazard Management Process||
|NTD Training and Participation||
|Three-year Safety Reviews||
This appendix provides detailed analysis on the probable causes of fatalities and injuries occurring between 2003 and 2005.
The figure below provides an overview of the most common probable causes of fatalities in the rail transit industry.
Exhibit A-1: Rail Transit Fatalities, 2003 – 2005
Heavy rail systems reported 217 fatalities between 2003 and 2005. The 60 fatalities reported in 2005 represent a decrease of 39% since 2003. Suicides and trespassing events accounted for 91 fatalities during the three-year period. An additional 56 fatalities were found to have occurred due to the actions of passengers or patrons, such as slips and falls onboard a train, leaning into an oncoming train at the station, exiting from the train prematurely, and leaping to the track bed.
Exhibit A-2: Heavy Rail Fatalities, 2003 – 2005
Light rail systems reported 60 fatalities between 2003 and 2005. Collisions resulted in 31 fatalities (52%) and “other” accidents resulted in 29 fatalities (48%). The following graphs present the reported light rail fatalities by probable cause.
Exhibit A-3: Light Rail Fatalities, 2003 - 2005
Exhibit A-4: Light Rail Collision Fatalities, 2003 - 2005
Light Rail systems reported 254 rail grade crossing collisions between 2003 and 2005. The 254 grade crossing collisions resulted in a total of 24 fatalities. The following graphs present the probable causes of the 24 rail grade crossing fatalities.
Exhibit A-5: Rail Grade Crossing Collision Fatalities, 2003 - 2005
The figure below provides an overview of the most common probable causes of injuries in the rail transit industry.
Exhibit A-6: Rail Transit Injuries, 2003 – 2005
Heavy rail systems reported 8,732 injuries between 2003 and 2005. Collisions resulted in 49 injuries (0.56%), derailments resulted in 6 injuries (0.07%), fires resulted in 233 injuries (2.67%) and “other” accidents resulted in 8,444 injuries (96.70%). The following graphs present the reported heavy rail injuries by probable cause.
Exhibit A-7: Heavy Rail Injuries, 2003 - 2005
Light rail systems reported 1,780 injuries between 2003 and 2005. Collisions resulted in 701 injuries (39.38%), derailments resulted in 17 injuries (0.96%), fires resulted in 3 injuries (0.17%) and “other” accidents resulted in 1,059 injuries (59.49%). The following graphs present the reported light rail injuries by probable cause.
Exhibit A-8: Light Rail Injuries, 2003 - 2005
Exhibit A-9: Light Rail Collision Injuries, 2003 - 2005
Light Rail systems reported 254 rail grade crossing collisions between 2003 and 2005. The 254 grade crossing collisions resulted in a total of 335 injuries. The following graphs present the probable causes of the 335 rail grade crossing injuries.
Exhibit A-10: Light Rail Grade Crossing Collision Injuries, 2003 - 2005
This appendix provides probable cause data by accident types and rail transit modes by year.
Exhibit B-1: 2005 Probable Cause Distribution – Collisions, Derailments, Fires
|Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Other Rail||Total|
|Car Equipment Failure|
|Operating Rule Violation||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||13||77||0||1||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||13||77||0||1||3||0||0||0||0|
|Operating Procedures Violations||4||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4||12||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9||15||1||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Failure||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Cable Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cable Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Exhibit B-2: 2004 Probable Cause Distribution – Collisions, Derailments, Fires
|Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Other Rail||Total|
|Car Equipment Failure|
|Operating Rule Violation||1||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||17||50||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||18||51||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Operating Procedures Violations||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Deficiency||1||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0|
|Cable Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Cable Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
Exhibit B-3: 2003 Probable Cause Distribution – Collisions, Derailments, Fires
|Heavy Rail||Light Rail||Other Rail||Total|
|Car Equipment Failure|
|Operating Rule Violation||0||0||0||1||0||0||4||0||0||0||0||0||5||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||5||0||4||0||0|
|Operating Procedures Violations||1||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||11||0||1||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||1||0||0||1||11||0|
|Track Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Failure||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cable Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||16||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||16||0|
|Cable Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
Exhibit B-4: 2003 - 2005 Rail Grade Crossing Collision Probable Cause Distribution
|Rail grade Crossing Collisions||2003||2004||2005||Total|
|Car Equipment Failure|
|Operating Rule Violation||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||14||0||2||14||0|
|Operating Procedures Violation||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||4||0||1||4||0|
|Drug Alcohol Violation||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Track Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Signal Component Deficiency||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Signal Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cable Component Deficiency||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Cable Component Failure||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Exhibit B-5: 2003 - 2005 Heavy Rail “Other” Accident Probable Cause Distribution
|Heavy Rail “Other” Accident||2003||2004||2005|
|Slips Trips and Falls||1,601||1,607||3||1,892||1,911||5||1,975||1,993||3|
|Material Falling from Structure or Train||3||2||1||6||9||0||5||5||0|
|Miscellaneous Non-Passenger Incidents||50||46||4||60||54||4||8||8||0|
Exhibit B-6: 2003 - 2005 Light Rail “Other” Accident Probable Cause Distribution
|Light Rail “Other” Accident||2003||2004||2005|
|Slips Trips and Falls||95||95||0||59||57||2||37||37||0|
|Material Falling from Structure or Train||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Miscellaneous Non-Passenger Incidents||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Exhibit B-7: 2003 - 2005 Other Rail “Other” Accident Probable Cause Distribution
|Other Rail “Other” Accident||2003||2004||2005|
|Slips Trips and Falls||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||2||0|
|Material Falling from Structure or Train||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Miscellaneous Non-Passenger Incidents||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|