Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

Making mass transit safer

High numbers of California residents and visitors take some type of mass transit on a weekly, and often daily, basis. Convenience and concern for the environment have increased the role of mass transit in many communities throughout the state. Public transportation consists of buses, subways, commuter and light rail, ferries, trolleys and streetcars. In order to enhance safety, these systems must constantly be maintained and monitored to prevent catastrophes from occurring.

According to the Federal Transit Administration, public agencies are granted funds to improve current systems and develop new ones. The FTA regularly monitors these projects to make sure the agencies are following state and federal regulations, have the technical and financial capacities to carry out projects and provide the proper supervision and inspection.

Mass transit organizations must also identify areas in which safety may be an issue, and take the appropriate steps to fix the problems. The National Transportation Safety Board has outlined some ways mass transit accidents can be prevented. One is effective communication among management, contractors, unions and workers, so that design, operation and maintenance is all focused on proper safety measures.

Providing procedures and policies in regard to operations is also important to manage safety risks. Some practices that have been successful include near-miss confidential reporting and fatigue management systems. Adding new technologies is also important to help decrease incidents and improve operational efficiency. Some of these include:

  • Positive train control
  • Data and video recorders
  • Collision warning systems
  • Fire detection systems   

Proper integration and installation of these technologies is critical to add additional layers of protection to the growing mass transit systems.

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