- The Federal Transit Administration published proposed amendments Wednesday to Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans, a national transit safety program administered by the FTA, to incorporate changes required by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
- Among the new requirements are establishing safety committees to address workers’ and riders’ concerns and developing risk-reduction programs and other means to reduce assaults on transit workers.
- The FTA’s latest proposed rules apply to transit agencies with an agency safety plan in place. Some rules would only apply to transit agencies serving urban areas with populations over 200,000.
Against the backdrop of a 2008 head-on collision in Chatsworth, California, between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train, which killed 25 people, Congress tasked the FTA with creating a safety plan for public transportation in 2012.
Train accidents since then include a New Jersey Transit commuter train that ran beyond the end of track at Hoboken Terminal and a Metro-North Railroad train that derailed at 82 mph while rounding a 30-mph curve in the Bronx, New York. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have experienced a spate of safety problems. Additionally, assaults on transit workers began to increase in the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but rose even further beginning in 2020.
The 2021 infrastructure law increased federal scrutiny of the nation’s transit systems, directing the FTA to strengthen rail inspection practices, reduce assaults on transit vehicle operators and improve safety training. It also required transit agencies serving large cities to establish a safety committee and directed smaller-city agencies to develop their agency safety plans in cooperation with frontline workers.
The public has until June 25 to comment on the proposed rules.