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Safety FAQs

To view a set of frequently asked questions, select a topic and category based on your interest area. Perform a word search or choose a topic from the list.

Answer:

FTA's interim program coursework contains different competencies than those in the Transit Safety and Security Program (TSSP). Therefore, FTA proposes that no credit will be transferred from prior education or experience into the interim program. More specifically, the current TSSP program was designed to address competencies that support the development and implementation of system safety, security, and emergency management program plans. The interim program promotes the development, implementation and oversight of SMS safety policies, risk management, safety assurance, and safety promotion programs and initiatives through the effective use of Safety Management Systems (SMS) tools and techniques.

The objectives within the SMS curriculum were built from FTA’s SMS framework, which uses a different approach to identifying hazards and controlling their potential consequences, continual assessment of safety risk, and an effective employee safety reporting system.

Answer:

To help a safe industry stay safe and become even safer, FTA is adopting Safety Management Systems (SMS) as our new safety regulatory framework. With a focus on organization-wide safety policy, proactive hazard management, strong safety communication between front line employees and management, targeted safety training, and clear accountabilities and responsibilities for critical safety activities, SMS provides an enhanced structure for addressing expectations specified by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). SMS also provides dedicated tools and approaches to help FTA implement outstanding recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding needed improvements in safety and oversight programs in both rail and bus modes. FTA has integrated various levels of SMS elements into the Interim Provisions to help a safe industry become even safer.

FTA has adopted SMS as our new safety regulatory framework. With a focus on organization-wide safety policy, formal methods for identifying hazards, controlling their potential consequences, continually assessing safety risk, and promoting an effective employee safety reporting system, SMS provides a new structure for addressing expectations specified by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Learn more about how FTA plans to implement SMS. 

Answer:

Initially, FTA posted the estimated dates by which WMATA said it would submit a closure request for each corrective action per the Corrective Action Plan it provided to FTA in September 2015. WMATA then changed their dates for a few of the corrective actions and FTA made those updates to the tracking table. In the interest of transparency and to more easily monitor WMATA progress, FTA has decided to only use the original estimated dates WMATA provided in September 2015 which is now reflected in the tracking table update in February 2016. When additional corrective actions are posted, the dates listed for those will be based on the Corrective Action Plan WMATA submits related to those specific items.

Answer:

Initially, the interim training program will primarily focus on enhancing the technical competencies and capabilities of those persons responsible for direct safety oversight of rail fixed guideway public transportation systems (rail transit systems) and the Federal and State personnel who conduct safety audits of these systems. This approach recognizes the impact of recent bus and rail transit accidents and incidents that prompted the safety certification training requirements in MAP-21.1 However, many of the provisions of the interim program will also benefit personnel with bus safety oversight responsibilities; therefore, participation in applicable courses is encouraged.

Answer:

Yes.  You would speak with provider to arrange, provide venue, and be willing to accept registrants from your area that are outside your agency.   

This also applies to course that have dates scheduled.

Answer:

No. In fact, SSO Formula Grant Program funds cannot be used to cover expenses incurred by the SSO agency prior to the effective date of their apportionment, which, in this case, is March 10, 2014.

Also, SSO Formula Grant Program funds must be used to develop and carry out a MAP-21 compliant program, not to implement minimum 49 CFR Part 659 requirements.

Further, due to the requirement for legal and financial independence, among other things, specified in 49 U.S.C. 5329(e)(3) and (4), FTA's SSO grant funds cannot be used for the direct benefit of a RTA, and an SSO agency cannot participate in FTA's SSO Formula Grant Program while receiving money from a RTA in its jurisdiction.

Answer:

Yes. An SMS is a collaborative approach that will help management and labor work together to control risk better, detect and correct safety problems earlier, share and analyze safety data more effectively, and measure safety performance more clearly. The ultimate goal of an SMS is to ensure that the agency has an inclusive and effective process to direct resources to optimally manage safety. SMS is scalable to organizations of any size and flexible enough to be effective in all transit environments, from the largest urban to the smallest rural transit system.

Answer:

Usually not; they are sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration to further objectives of improved safety and security of our transit systems

When I press the "Register" button, I am transferred to another web site.

That is correct.   FTA sponsors these courses, which are in turn provided by suppliers like the Transportation Safety Institute and National Transit Institute.  At that point, you are making arrangements with those providers.

Answer:

No, however, FTA has developed a voluntary component in the Interim Provisions for the Safety Certification Training Program for employee’s who have direct responsibility for safety oversight of bus transit agencies.

Answer:

Please coordinate with your Regional Office regarding the exact circumstances of your State. In most cases the Regional Office will be expecting a designation letter from the Governor to accompany the grant application.

Answer:

No. We appreciate that several States are still working to identify the source of their local matching funds; however, a State cannot apply for a grant under FTA's MAP-21 SSO program while, at the same time, receiving funding from the rail transit agency. However, no State or any other agency should deprive a SSOA of the funds it needs to ensure the safety of public transportation during this transition period. FTA therefore expects a clear transition plan for the SSOA to attain financial independence.

Answer:

States will submit a schedule and budget as part of the grant application. In order for the grant to remain active, States must demonstrate adequate progress toward their objectives, based on the schedule and budget submitted.

Answer:

GREEN means the corrective action is closed which will occur only after FTA completes a comprehensive verification process.

YELLOW means the corrective action remains open -- either because the estimated original date WMATA said it would submit a closure request has not yet expired, or because a WMATA closure request is under review by FTA and undergoing a comprehensive verification process.

RED means WMATA has not submitted a closure request by their original estimated date or because FTA has rejected the closure request and sent it back to WMATA for additional action.

Answer:

SMS Pilot Program participants in aviation found that SMS enabled them to integrate safety as a core management value. They also have identified lessons learned from their experiences. Although each organization is different, common themes include:

  • The need for ongoing senior leadership commitment,
  • The need to integrate SMS training across the organization,
  • Data/analytical lessons learned regarding what to capture, how to capture it, and how to distribute it across the organization,
  • The need for oversight agency participation early in the process, and
  • The critical role of communication, awareness and culture
Answer:

SMS allows an organization to adapt to change, increasing complexity, fluctuations in resources, and changes in employee skills and experience. An effective SMS offers many benefits, including:

  • Accountability for the management of safety at the highest level of the transit agency.
  • Collaboration between management and labor to ensure agreement on safety risk priorities.
  • Structured and strategic decision making for safety resource allocation.
  • Enhanced safety performance through proactive safety risk analyses.
  • Increased confidence in safety risk controls through safety assurance.
  • Partnership and knowledge sharing between public transportation agencies, state agencies, and FTA.
  • A positive safety culture that supports safety communication and reporting.
Answer:

SMS is composed of four functional components:

  • Safety Policy
  • Safety Risk Management
  • Safety Assurance
  • Safety Promotion

Safety Policy is the foundation of the organization's safety management system. It clearly states the organization's safety objectives and sets forth the policies, procedures, and organizational structures necessary to accomplish the safety objectives. The safety policy clearly defines management and employee responsibilities for safety throughout the organization. It also ensures that management is actively engaged in the oversight of the system's safety performance by requiring regular review of the safety policy, budget and program by a designated accountable executive.

The second component, Safety Risk Management, requires development of processes and procedures to provide an understanding of the public transportation system’s operations and maintenance to allow individuals to identify hazards associated with those systems. Once hazards are identified, other procedures must be developed under safety risk management to analyze and assess the risk resulting from these hazards, as well as to institute controls to reduce or eliminate the risks from these hazards.

The third component, Safety Assurance, ensures the performance and effectiveness of safety risk controls established under safety risk management. Safety assurance is also designed to ensure that the organization meets or exceeds its safety objectives through the collection, analysis, and assessment of data regarding the organization's performance. Safety assurance also includes inspection activities to support oversight and performance monitoring.

The fourth component of an SMS is Safety Promotion. Safety promotion requires a combination of training and communication of safety information to employees to enhance the organization's safety performance. How an organization seeks to comply with this component depends on the size and scope of the organization. It may include formal safety training for employees, a formal means of communicating safety information, and a means for employees to raise safety concerns without fear of retribution.

What are lessons learned for SMS implementation?

SMS Pilot Program participants in aviation found that SMS enabled them to integrate safety as a core management value. They also have identified lessons learned from their experiences. Although each organization is different, common themes include:

  • The need for ongoing senior leadership commitment,
  • The need to integrate SMS training across the organization,
  • Data/analytical lessons learned regarding what to capture, how to capture it, and how to distribute it across the organization,
  • The need for oversight agency participation early in the process, and
  • The critical role of communication, awareness and culture.
Answer:

State Safety Oversight (rail fixed guideway systems); Transit Bus Safety/Security; Drug and Alcohol Compliance; Fatigue Management; Transit Work Safety; and many others. Offerings are constantly evolving. Therefore, it would be advisable to check back often.

Who is the key Point of Contact at Federal Transit Administration should I have additional questions, suggestions or comments?

Ruth Lyons, Transit Safety and Security Training Specialist, 202-366-2233 or ruth.lyons@dot.gov

Answer:

There are a few major misconceptions about SMS:

  • SMS is just a new "buzzword" to replace "system safety." To the contrary, SMS applies system safety concepts and adds formal system safety management concepts. Most safety research has shown that major accidents are not simply the result of one individual’s behavior or actions. Major accidents typically have organizational antecedents with multiple causes involving people operating across many levels or functions in an organization. It follows that predicting and preventing major accidents requires addressing the root causes based in organizational practices, management systems, and culture. SMS brings these elements into the system safety approach.
  • SMS requires a separate safety department. While rail transit agencies and larger bus agencies will have specialist safety personnel such as a Director of Safety, safety and quality auditors and analysts, investigators, etc., an SMS is a set of management practices rather than a requirement for an additional organizational "layer" or "stovepipe." SMS focuses on functional expectations by operational departments; therefore resource allocation should be appropriate for the size of the organization.
  • SMS requires Voluntary Employee Reporting to follow specific rules and guidelines. Voluntary employee reporting programs are a major element of SMS, but no specific program is mandated. Each public transportation agency will be able to determine how best to involve employees and obtain voluntary safety reports from employees.
  • SMS is a costly regulation that will hurt the transit agency’s financial performance. To the contrary, SMS can help transit agencies improve their bottom line. The hazards that put our people at risk are the same hazards that disrupt transit operations. Research has shown that improved information sharing regarding potential safety concerns in operations and maintenance will result in the design of more targeted solutions to all sorts of problems saving time and resources. For example, as a result of access to a shared information management system and jointly attended monthly safety committee meetings, vehicle maintainers and track inspectors work together to identify and resolve wheel-rail interface problems enhancing both ride quality and maintenance efficiency.
Answer:

Once the SSO Formula Grant is active, States must submit several types of reports, including a Federal Financial Report and Milestone Progress Report. These reports are required quarterly and should demonstrate progress toward milestones. Please see the most recent version of FTA Circular 5010.1 or contact your regional office for details.

States should note that all project expenditures, whether paid for with Federal award money or local matching funds, must comply with Federal requirements, including Buy America, civil rights, economic development, etc.

Answer:

Any State that was not certified in October 2013 must submit a Certification Work Plan (CWP) to FTA. FTA must approve that CWP prior to the State submitting a grant application.

A CWP outlines a transition plan for a State to achieve certification. The plan should identify gaps or deficiencies in a State’s authority to develop and carry out its SSO program and tactical steps the State plans to take to meet the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) statutory requirements under 49 U.S.C. § 5329(e) under a State-specified timeline. Approved CWPs are intended to provide more certainty that the transition plan will help reach certification. This is a State’s opportunity to receive reasonable assurance that its anticipated SSO program will be MAP-21 compliant and use the available funding for eligible activities that meaningfully and effectively enhance its SSO program. Additional information on the CWP is provided below.

Once the CWP is completed and approved by FTA, the SSO agency must file an electronic grant application with its FTA Regional Office using FTA's Transportation Electronic Award Management (TEAM) system. As part of this process, the State must submit documentation, among other things, evidencing its formal designation of the intended recipient of the FTA SSO grant program funds and the source of its 20 percent local match. The State-designated entity, which may or may not be the SSO agency, must also have the required documents, including the signed Certifications and Assurances on file with the Regional Office. Contact your Regional Office for more information.

States are reminded that grant applications must be in “submitted” status in TEAM by June 30, 2014 to allow time to make awards by FY 2014. For more information, please see the March 10, 2014 Dear Colleague Letter.

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