TRBTSS Taskforce Meeting – January 9, 2018

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Welcome and General Transportation Research Board (TRB) Updates/Announcements

Lisa Staes presented TRB’s Harassment Policy and the emergency procedures for the Marriott Marquis. She asked participants to introduce themselves.

AP018T Events at TRB Annual Meeting

  • Papers reviewed and presentations/papers selected
  • Annual Meeting Task Force lecterns and sessions – attendance observations
    • Achieving Safety and Security in Today in Today’s Resource Constrained Environment (Sunday, 1:30 – 4:30 PM)
    • Application of Technology to Improve Transit Safety and Security (Monday, 10:00 to noon)
    • Improvements in Transit Safety on Roadway Systems (Tuesday, 10:00 to noon)

Alan Danaher stated that the Task Force had 15 paper submittals this year. Ten were selected to present in Sunday’s workshop and two lectern sessions. Sunday’s lectern session had about 25 people in the audience, with four speakers. The Beijing subway security screening system presentation was very interesting. Other presentations addressed safety and serviceability issues with the Istanbul BRT system, a transit shuttle autonomous vehicle study in Gainesville, FL, and assessing the safety impacts of transit signal priority in King County, Washington. The second lectern session was Tuesday morning, with about 33 people in attendance and 5 presenters. Some presentations of particular interest were an IDEA presentation on Rosco Mobile Eye Technology, the TCRP 126 presentation, and Women’s Perceptions of Safety in Public Transportation. Alan noted that there was the need for 45 reviewers and it was difficult to get enough reviewers. Some reviewers were late in responding, while some reviewers did not respond. He stated that this continues to be a problem, and added that everyone – Task Force members and friends, are encouraged to participate in the paper review process. Karen Philbrick stated that she had indicated her willingness to review papers and stated that she had not been contacted to perform any reviews. Lisa assured her that moving forward she will be contacted. Lisa also asked Task Force members to make themselves available to review papers and stated that it is one of their responsibilities as members.

Alan further added that two years ago, TRB staff pulled out safety and security presentations from other committees for Task Force review, but stated that this year there were none. He reflected that we need to continue to interface with other committees to get the appropriate papers pulled in for Task Force review.

State of Transit Safety and Security in the U.S.

Lisa described the format of the meeting and corresponding presentations/discussion points. She noted that it is important to understand the areas of greatest risk to the public transportation industry in order for the Task Force to establish research priorities and resources that meet the needs of the industry.

CUTR’s Jodi Godfrey described the research findings from both a National Transit Database (NTD) analyses and an examination of exposure risk by person types, which used both NTD and National Household Travel Survey data.

Pam Fischhaber indicated that TRB’s Light Rail Committee has been discussing the issue of light rail collisions and mitigation strategies. She further stated that NTD data is not robust enough to help researchers, which the industry fully understands. Improved data collection and the availability of transit safety data would provide the basis for a proactive response to areas of risk. In addition, it would assist FTA in the development of national transit safety policies.

Lisa described a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) light rail study that will begin shortly that will include seven case study sites. The primary objectives of the research is to better understand the injuries and fatalities that are occurring between light rail vehicles and personal occupant vehicles/pedestrians/bicyclists; perform a scan of the technologies that are available to assist in mitigating these collisions, and best practices that have been employed to reduce these events.

Joyce Rose stated that with the limitations that exist, it is important to make your voice heard at FTA. In addition, she noted that there is a Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) report that addresses data collection. Lisa added that there also is an internal FTA working group, and that the outcome of their discussions may lead to beneficial improvements in data collection for the industry. Joyce stated that you might be able to influence the decisions related to minimum data without going through any type of Congressional action. There were comments related to data protections and Joyce added that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) does have data protections for its reporters.

This was followed by a presentation of TRB Paper Number 18-00015 – Transportation Safety Performance of US Bus Transit Agencies and Population Density: A Cross Sectional Analysis by researcher Iiker Karaca from the Iowa State University.

The research used NTD data from 2008-2014. Iiker indicated that Increasing density will increase exposure, but that there is also safety in numbers. The researchers utilized a negative binomial regression model to estimate the changes in safety incidents by each variable considered. The analysis included agencies and communities of all sizes. The findings – researchers found that agency fleet size improved safety overall; increased population density reduces the likelihood of fatalities; passengers dominate non-fatal injury types; and as agency size increases, the injuries decrease, likely due to increased resources, better training, etc. There was a negative relationship between all injury types and population density. He stated that the safety in numbers effect is significant for all person types. There is an exclusion for bicyclists. Limitations include the relative rarity of fatal events, which leads to findings that are not statistically significant. In closing, he stated that transit passengers sustained the majority of injuries, while occupants of other vehicles represented the greatest number of fatalities. Further research in the variance among transit agencies may help to explain the reduced levels of crashes in urban environments.

John Contestabile asked if there is data to support the findings of the research or if there is a need for more data to perform further related research. Iiker stated that researchers could use other data to help increase the support of the findings. Pam added that additional granularity would be beneficial, stating that current data hinders an agency’s ability to mitigate hazards at specific locations.

Successful Strategies/Mitigation Projects

Lisa introduced presentations on technologies and practices that are currently underway to mitigate some of these areas of risk.

The first presentation was of MARTA’s right-of-way worker protection project funded through FTA’s SRER program. Presenters included Abhay Joshi, MARTA’s project manager and Paul Carey of Bombardier. Through this project, Bombardier installed its TrackSafe location awareness product on the northern segment of MARTA’s Red Line from Medical Center Station to the North Springs Station. (TrackSafe is Bombardier’s product that creates location awareness for track workers and train operators). The system includes wayside and wearable devices, with control center notifications/monitoring.

Michael Davis from WMATA and Peter Bartek with Protran followed with a presentation of WMATA’s ROW protection project funded under FTA’s SRD program. In summary, this project includes the deployment and provision of a track inspector location awareness system with enhanced transit worker protection. The system consists of four elements – ranging wayside visual warning system installed at fixed locations; ranging wayside visual warning system with communication link to dispatch; wearable ranging device worn by track workers; and back-end dispatcher software display.

Jianrong Qiu from Monash University presented TRB Paper Number 18-03378 – An Evaluation of the Inspection Practices of Australian Bus Operators. The study investigated the characteristics, inspection practices and perceptions of bus operators in nine different jurisdictions in Australia. The results showed that pre-trip inspections were widely conducted irrespective of the nature of the bus operation or the operator’s perceptions of this inspection type. Mandatory, independent inspections were also well acknowledged with the schemes varying across 15 jurisdictions. Time-distance based inspections were comparatively weakly implemented, with the practices being diverse. The identified issues included weaker recognition and implementation of time-distance based inspections and the non-comparable inspection practices of small, rural operators. Accordingly, the researchers recommended intensive promotions of time-distance based inspections and the development of Regional Maintenance Centers. This study had two implications: that transit management investigate the personnel conducting pre-trip inspections, that the procedure be mandatory, and independent inspections across jurisdictions be benchmarked to identify industry best practices.

Research and Industry Outreach Strategies to Advance (TABLED for next Task Force meeting)

  • Biennial Transit Safety and Security Symposium – Lisa did briefly share her thoughts of a biennial event that would have tracks for safety and security (perhaps also include emergency management). The event would be practitioner based, and would ideally include lessons learned/successes from technology deployments/demonstrations and policy/procedural tactics. She suggested that the event could be co-sponsored by: TRB, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), FTA, the Center for Urban Transportation Research (and other university based transportation research centers), the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), and perhaps even the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • Journal of Public Transportation (special edition)

Other Task Force Updates

TRB/TCRP panel needs/open invitations

  • TCRP project oversight panel nominations due January 19, 2018
  • TCRP synthesis topic submittals due March 16, 2018

5:40 PM – Meeting adjourned