4000bce - 399
400 - 1399
1400 - 1499
1500 - 1599
1600 - 1699
1700 - 1799
1800 - 1899
1900 - 1999
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
My name is Robert Molofsky and I am the General Counsel of the Amalgamated Transit Union, AFL-CIO, CLC, the largest labor union representing transit employees in the United States and Canada. It is my pleasure to appear here on behalf of our International President James La Sala to discuss the ATU's views and concerns about the safety issues facing the transit industry as well as to offer recommendations for making our transit systems safer and addressing the heightened concerns in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
As the representative of over 175,000 employees in the transit industry, maintaining and operating bus, light rail, ferry, over-the-road bus, school bus and paratransit vehicles throughout North America, the ATU views the safety and security of these transit systems to be of utmost importance. As such, we are extremely grateful for this Committee's decision to hold this hearing today and for inviting the ATU to participate on this panel.
This is certainly a difficult time for those in the transportation industry, and indeed, for all Americans. It has now been 23 days since this nation witnessed the horror of the events on September 11th. Since then, President Bush, his Administration and this Congress have shown remarkable bipartisanship in their efforts to implement new counter-terrorism measures. The airlines, along with the assistance of the Federal Government, have adopted stringent new security measures to better protect America's air travelers. And transit systems throughout the country, with the full support and assistance of the ATU, have begun to reexamine existing security procedures and emergency preparedness plans, in the hopes of preventing further tragedy.
Despite all of these extraordinary measures being taken, we know that no one is immune from future attacks. Just this week, Bush Administration officials announced that there will likely be more terrorist strikes in United States, possibly including chemical and biological warfare.
This is not news to the ATU or the transit industry, who for years have faced startling statistics and real life events that have put the industry on guard for the very real potential of terrorist or quasi-terrorist attacks.
According to the most recent records of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Intelligence and Security, in 1998, attacks against transportation and transportation infrastructures accounted for 42 percent of all international terrorist attacks reported by the U.S. State Department. The Transportation Research Board found that 34 percent of the violent acts against transportation target rail and buses.
The devastating effects of such attacks against mass transportation have been seen throughout the world. Ongoing bombing campaigns directed at the Paris Metro have targeted trains, passenger terminals and other rail facilities, resulting in hundreds of casualties. In 1995, between 5,000 and 6,000 people were exposed to sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, resulting in 12 deaths and marking the first time chemical or biological weapons have been deployed on a large scale by terrorists. And in Israel and Britain, buses have too often been the unfortunate targets of terrorist bombings.
Mass transit systems in the United States have also figured prominently in many of these acts of terrorism and extreme violence. In a survey of transit agencies conducted in 1997, over 90 percent of the agencies surveyed said they had experienced bomb threats, more than 50 percent with hate crimes, and almost 30 percent with hijackings and multiple victim shootings. In responding to terrorist events, almost 60 percent of the transit agencies surveyed felt that they were not well prepared to deal with these kinds of activities. Attachment One summarizes some of the most violent attacks against mass transportation in the U.S., beginning as far back as 1927, when two bombs exploded in two New York City subway stations, and as recently as May 2001, when a city bus in Los Angeles was hijacked by an armed gunman and crashed into a minivan, killing the minivan driver and injuring seven others.
Fortunately, these types of terrorist and quasi-terrorist incidents are rare. However, less severe forms of violence against the operators of public transportation vehicles are much more common. These frequent occurrences have plagued the transit industry in the U.S. for far too long. Attachment Two summarizes some of the assaults against mass transit operators and vehicles that have occurred since last December, including the armed hijacking of a bus in Council Bluffs, Nebraska, the stabbing of a SEPTA bus driver in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the brutal beating of another SEPTA driver in Philadelphia less than two months later, and the recent shooting aboard a Greyhound bus at a midtown Manhattan terminal that wounded four passengers.
While the severity of these events may pale in comparison to the recent tragedies in New York and Washington, D.C., these assaults are nonetheless a serious safety threat to transit personnel, passengers and to the rest of the traveling public who share the roads with our mass transportation vehicles. We saw the potential devastation that can result from such assaults in 1998, when a deranged passenger onboard a Seattle Metro bus shot and killed bus operator and ATU Local 587 member Mark McLaughlin, causing the bus to careen off a bridge and resulting in the death of one passenger and injuring 32 others.
Because public transportation brings masses of people together and is highly visible and familiar, it is an attractive target for crime. Transit operators, in particular, are often the victim of such crimes as they are forced to deal on a daily basis with passengers who become angry over bus fares, delays, crowded vehicles and for various other reasons. Clearly, such crimes result not only in harm to the operator but also seriously impair the ability of that operator to safely transport passengers.
In response to the prevalence of such violent incidents, the ATU has for years been steadfastly committed to addressing the threat of terrorist attacks against mass transportation and the growing rates of violence and assaults against transit workers and vehicles. In addition to raising awareness of the issue among our membership, the ATU has worked along with the transit industry to implement additional safety and security procedures in the workplace to protect our members. We have worked with and urged the Federal Transit Administration to include additional security measures in its model transit safety programs. And we have worked with Members of Congress to urge passage of legislation making assault against a transit operator a federal crime, the same protection extended to airline pilots and flight attendants. Significantly, since 1998 with the passage of TEA-21, Congress, at our urging, has provided increased funding to the National Transit Institute, enabling it to provide important safety research and training programs to transit workers.
Over the last two sessions of Congress, we have also supported and urged passage of the Preparedness Against Domestic Terrorism Act, currently H.R. 525, originally sponsored by Congresswoman Tillie Fowler and presently sponsored by Congressman Wayne Gilchrest. This bill, which was unanimously approved by the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee and is now pending before the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, seeks to improve coordination of federal efforts with regard to preparedness against terrorist attacks in the United States. As part of the development of the Domestic Terrorism Preparedness Plan required by this bill, an assessment will be required of the risk of terrorist and quasi-terrorist attacks against transportation, energy and other infrastructure facilities, including passengers, personnel and other individuals occupying such facilities. In addition, the bill requires an evaluation of available technologies and practices to determine the best means of protecting such facilities and persons from terrorist and quasi-terrorist attacks.
I want to take this opportunity to ask the Members of this Committee to urge their colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the entire House of Representatives, to expeditiously pass this long-overdue legislation or incorporate its provisions into other comprehensive security legislation under consideration. And, if this bill appears before this body, I ask that you and your Senate colleagues do the same.
While I have painted a rather grim picture of the security threats facing the transit industry, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the transit industry is one of the safest forms of transportation. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, riding a bus is 91 times safer than traveling by car and taking the train is 15 times safer than a car. One of the primary reasons for this unequaled safety record is the fact that the professional operators of transit vehicles are highly trained to drive defensively and anticipate potential safety problems.
Even in the face of the tragic events of September 11th, public transportation systems in New York and Washington, D.C. responded quickly, reliably and efficiently in evacuating people away from the affected areas and delivering them safely to their homes, churches and other chosen destinations. We at the ATU could not be more proud of our members in these cities who stayed calm in the midst of this national tragedy and bravely performed the same important public service that they provide on a daily basis.
In addition to the commitment to employee and passenger safety demonstrated by New York City Transit and the Washington Metro Area Transportation Authority, Federal laws and regulations requiring rail fixed guideway systems to have in place emergency management plans, were, in part, responsible for the successful way in which these transit agencies were able to handle the September 11th crisis.
But this does not mean that we are prepared to face what may come next. If the tragic events that unfolded before our eyes 23 days ago taught us anything, it is that we can not rely on traditional notions of safety and security to protect us from those who are determined to terrorize America.
There must be a thorough reassessment of the threat posed to transportation facilities - mass transit in particular. We can no longer rely on these outdated studies from 1997 and 1998(1) to tell us what needs to be done to make America's transit systems safe and secure. We urge this Committee and Congress to mandate such a study - either through the passage of HR 525, which I discussed earlier, or through new legislation specifically addressing the needs of mass transit.
With that said, there are several specific legislative and regulatory fixes that must be taken now to better ensure the safety of our transit systems. This is not a time for Best Practices or Model Safety Plans! There must be defined legislative and regulatory requirements with respect to the equipment, technology, training and personnel needed to prepare, prevent and respond to any future attacks or threats. Attachment Three is a summary of the current federal laws and regulations relating to transit security. We recommend that these laws and regulations be improved in the following six ways:
First, and foremost, the safety and security requirements which apply to rail fixed guideway systems should be extended to cover bus transit systems. There is currently no federal requirement that bus transit systems prepare or implement security plans to protect and prepare bus operators and passengers in emergency situations. This is absurd given that 23 percent of violent acts against all modes of transportation occur on transit buses - almost 5000 incidents alone in 1999, according to the FTA statistics.
Earlier this year, the ATU recommended just that action to the FTA, who, along with the transit industry and without any request for input by the affected labor community, is in the process of developing a Model Transit Bus Safety Program. Attachment Four is a copy of our recommendations to the Agency. As the ATU pointed out, the Draft Report most recently released by the Agency on April 20, 2001, is seriously lacking much needed security measures. In fact, the proposal put forth by the agency includes security measures only as a voluntary element of any transit bus safety plan.
While, the ATU acknowledges that transit bus systems vary greatly in services offered, size and resources, and thereby face different security threats, it is our contention that some basic security measures must be taken by all transit providers to ensure the safety and well being of both the operators of the vehicles as well as the passengers.
All transit operators should be trained on how to handle potential incidents, including instructions on how to defuse situations involving angry or belligerent riders and how to identify and minimize potentially dangerous situations. Drivers should be given detailed protocols to be followed when a violent situation erupts, such as who to call first for backup, when to stop the bus, when to refuse service to a passenger, when other passengers should be evacuated from the vehicle, etc... This training should be required as a basic element of any safety and security program.
In addition, all systems should, at a minimum, have a formal agreement with local law enforcement concerning coordination with transit personnel when security breaches occur. These agreements may be as basic or complex as necessitated by the individual transit bus system, considering whether the system has its own police force or security personnel.
Other security measures, including technological and design strategies such as lighting, cameras, panic buttons, alarms and automated ticketing, should be incorporated as appropriate in every new or enhanced safety and security program. In implementing such strategies transit service providers should be required to consult with representatives of their employees to insure that the specific security concerns of both passengers and workers are identified and addressed.
Second, federal law should be amended to require all transit systems in urban areas to spend a minimum percentage of their formula grant monies on security measures, without exception. While federal law currently requires that at least 1 percent of such grants be spent on security measures, it allows an exception where the grant recipient "has decided that the expenditure for security projects is not necessary." At a minimum, this decision should be left up to the Secretary of Transportation, not the individual transit agencies.
Third, Congress must appropriate sufficient funds to allow transit agencies to adopt and implement needed security improvements. Clearly, the above requirements mean nothing without the funds necessary to carry out the mandates. Resources must be made available for equipment needs, including the development of devices to detect the presence of chemical or biological weapons, as well as personnel and training needs. Specifically, we call upon Congress to increase funding to the FTA-sponsored National Transit Institute for expanded transit employee safety and security training. In addition, Congress should consider a supplemental appropriation to address the immediate needs of our urban systems to quickly upgrade their security systems. We are prepared to work with this Committee, Congress, DOT and industry representatives to identify the level of emergency funding needed to satisfy these goals.
Fourth, the FTA should develop a National Transit Terrorism Threat Warning System, similar to the system developed by the Federal Aviation Administration to warn all operating systems that an attack may be imminent. The FAA system was critical in responding to the September 11th hijackings, allowing the Agency to immediately ground all flights and possibly averting further tragedy. Such a system operating in coordination with the appropriate federal, state and local law enforcement agencies would ensure the issuance of timely and accurate information required to put potentially targeted systems on high alert.
Fifth, Congress should federalize penalties for violent assaults on transit operators. Despite the important public service they provide and the accompanying risks they face on the job everyday, transit operators receive very little protection under federal and state laws. While a person who assaults an airline pilot or a flight attendant is subject to federal penalties, the same deterrent is not applied to those who attack the bus and rail operators who transport us daily to work, home, shopping, medical facilities and other destinations. Likewise, most state laws treat such attacks only as simple misdemeanor assaults.
And finally, the FTA must further improve its transit crime reporting systems so that the true extent of the threat can be assessed. While transit agencies are required to report crime statistics along with other information required by the FTA, many transit agencies, even those with police divisions, do not appear to have the capacity to produce reliable crime counts. This is primarily due to the absence of interagency exchange mechanisms to supply reports of transit crimes, which transit agencies simply never receive.
The ATU is committed to working with this Committee, Congress, the Administration and the transit industry to see that these and other necessary steps are taken to improve the safety and security of this nation's transit systems, personnel and passengers. While we certainly hope that none of these plans or warning systems that we've recommended here today are ever tested, we must nonetheless take all necessary actions now to enable our transportation system to prevent, prepare and respond in the event that we are faced with another terrorist or quasi-terrorist attack.
Thank you again for inviting the ATU to participate on this panel here today. We can not stress enough how important it is to include the input of the labor community in this discussion. It is our members who are on the front lines of this battle and it is our members who know best what dangers they face everyday on the job. We look forward to working with all of you in the months and years to come to address the important issues raised here today.
We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
August 6, 1927: Two bombs explode in two New York City subway stations, one in the 28th St IRT (Lex Line) station and the 28th St (B'way) BMT station. "[The bombs] injured many persons, one of them it was believed, fatally." (NYT 8/6/1927)
December 7, 1993: Armed gunman, Colin Ferguson, kills 6 and injures 17 passengers aboard a Long Island Railroad train during rush hour.
December 15 and 21, 1994: Edward Leary explodes two homemade bombs on the New York City subway system, injuring 53 people, in an apparent attempt to extort money from the New York Transit Authority.
October 9, 1995: "Sons of the Gestapo" sabotage Amtrak's Sunset Limited train, causing a derailment in the Arizona desert, killing one and injuring 65 others.
November 27, 1998: A deranged passenger on a Seattle Metro bus shot and killed bus operator and ATU Local 587 member Mark McLaughlin, causing the bus to careen off a bridge and resulting in the death of one passenger and injuring 32 others.
May 2, 2001: A shooting suspect hijacked a city bus in Los Angeles and held a gun to the driver's head as police chased the bus through downtown until it crashed into a minivan, killing the minivan driver and injuring seven others.
1. Synthesis of Transit Practice 27 - Emergency Preparedness for Transit Terrorism, Transportation Research Board (1997); Worldwide Terrorist and Violent Criminal Attacks Against Transportation - 1998, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Intelligence and Security; Transit Security Handbook, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (1998).
August 14, 2001: An angry passenger sprayed pepper spray in the face of a bus driver in Pompano Beach, Florida after complaining that the driver was not driving fast enough. The bus driver and a female passenger with asthma were taken to a nearby hospital with trouble breathing. (Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, August 15, 2001)
August 6, 2001: A man attacked and assaulted a bus driver in Corpus Christi, Texas when the bus driver told the man he could not give him change. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, August 7, 2001)
August 3, 2001: A Greyhound bus passenger opened fire on a bus arriving at a midtown Manhattan terminal, wounding four other passengers. (Source: Associated Press, August 4, 2001)
July 7, 2001: A man slammed his car into the back of a Metro Transit bus in Washington, D.C., then boarded the bus and attacked the driver, throwing him off the vehicle. The attacker tried to commandeer the bus but fled when he heard sirens approaching. (Source: The Washington Post, July 9, 2001)
May 2, 2001: A shooting suspect hijacked a city bus in Los Angeles and held a gun to the driver's head as police chased the bus through downtown until it crashed into a minivan, killing the minivan driver and injuring seven others. (Source: The New York Times, May 2, 2001)
April 21, 2001: A passenger punched a Metro Transit bus driver as he was exiting the bus in Minneapolis after the bus driver asked the passenger and his friend to move their legs because they were blocking the rear exit. (Source: WCCO 4 News, April 30, 2001)
March 24, 2001: A New York transit bus operator was punched in the face numerous times after five men stopped the bus he was driving by standing in front of it and then pried the front doors open. (Source: New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority)
March 7, 2001: A bus operator in Louisville, Kentucky was brutally assaulted by a passenger when he tried to collect the proper bus fare from the passenger. (Source: ATU Local 1447)
March 6, 2001: A SEPTA bus driver was beaten by a group of passengers who boarded his bus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Source: The Inquirer, March 7, 2001)
February 4, 2001: A woman was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of a New York-bound Greyhound bus. (Source: The Boston Herald, February 5, 2001)
January 30, 2001: Gunmen fleeing a robbery in Hillsdale, Missouri fired at least one shot at a moving bus, injuring a passenger aboard the bus. (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 31, 2001)
January 29, 2001: Passengers ducked for cover aboard a Pierce Transit bus in Tacoma, Washington, when gunfire aimed at the vehicle punched a nickel-sized hole in two ventilation windows some 18 inches above the seated passengers. (Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 30, 2001)
January 24, 2001: Gang members shot at a group of rivals who were riding in a Durham Area Transit Authority bus in Durham, North Carolina, injuring a teenage girl and causing the bus driver to speed away with more than 20 passengers aboard. At least five bullets penetrated a side window of the bus. (Source: The News and Observer, January 26, 2001)
January 13, 2001: A woman stabbed a SEPTA bus driver, Garfield Gilbert, in Delaware County, Pennsylvania after making fun of his Jamaican accent and making ethnic slurs. (Source: The Associated Press State and Local Wire, January 15, 2001)
January 5, 2001: Commuter rail service was suspended for two hours at Wavelry Station in Belmont, Massachusetts while bomb squad officers investigated a bomb threat. (Source: The Boston Globe, January 6, 2001)
January 4, 2001: A bus passenger brutally beat a Metro Transit driver, Ismael Ayoub, and drug him off the bus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after becoming angry at having to wait for police to help Ayoub deal with some women who had refused to pay their fares and refused to get off the bus. (Source: Star Tribune, January 22, 2001)
December 20, 2000: A 29-year-old man hijacked a Metropolitan Area Transit bus in Council Bluffs, Nebraska, ordered the bus driver to drive "expeditiously" to Omaha and assaulted and threatened to kill a female passenger on board the bus. (Source: Omaha World-Herald, December 23, 2000)
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5330, all rail fixed guideway transit systems are required to have a safety plan, which includes a security component. Failure to comply will result in withholding of funds. Section 5330 reads:
Sec. 5330. Withholding amounts for noncompliance with safety requirements
(a) Application.--This section applies only to States that have rail fixed guideway mass transportation systems not subject to regulation by the Federal Railroad Administration.
(b) General Authority.--The Secretary of Transportation may withhold not more than 5 percent of the amount required to be appropriated for use in a State or urbanized area in the State under section 5307 of this title for a fiscal year beginning after September 30, 1994, if the State in the prior fiscal year has not met the requirements of subsection (c) of this section and the Secretary decides the State is not making an adequate effort to comply with subsection (c).
(c) State Requirements.--A State meets the requirements of this section if the State--
(1) establishes and is carrying out a safety program plan for each fixed guideway mass transportation system in the State that establishes at least safety requirements, lines of authority, levels of responsibility and accountability, and methods of documentation for the system; and
(2) designates a State authority as having responsibility--
(A) to require, review, approve, and monitor the carrying out of each plan;
(B) to investigate hazardous conditions and accidents on the systems; and
(C) to require corrective action to correct or eliminate those conditions.
(d) Multistate Involvement.--When more than one State is subject to this section in connection with a single mass transportation authority, the affected States may designate an entity (except the mass transportation authority) to ensure uniform safety standards and enforcement and to meet the requirements of subsection (c) of this section.
(e) Availability of Withheld Amounts.--
(1) An amount withheld under subsection (b) of this section remains available for apportionment for use in the State until the end of the 2d fiscal year after the fiscal year for which the amount may be appropriated.
(2) If a State meets the requirements of subsection (c) of this section before the last day of the period for which an amount withheld under subsection (b) of this section remains available under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Secretary, on the first day on which the State meets the requirements, shall apportion to the State the amount withheld that remains available for apportionment for use in the State. An amount apportioned under this paragraph remains available until the end of the 3d fiscal year after the fiscal year in which the amount is apportioned. An amount not obligated at the end of the 3-year period shall be apportioned for use in other States under section 5336 of this title.
(3) If a State does not meet the requirements of subsection (c) of this section at the end of the period for which an amount withheld under subsection (b) of this section remains available under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the amount shall be apportioned for use in other States under section 5336 of this title.
(f) Regulations.--Not later than December 18, 1992, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations stating the requirements for complying with subsection (c) of this section.
The FTA, through 49 CFR 659, requires rail transit systems to comply with APTA's "Manual for the Development of Rail Transit System Safety Program Plans" and to address the personal security of its passengers and employees.
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5307(d)(1)(J), all transit systems, including bus transit, in urban areas, are required to spend 1% of all urbanized area formula grant funds received on security measures, unless they deem such measures unnecessary. The applicable provisions of section 5307 read:
Section 5307. Urbanized area formula grants
(d) Grant Recipient Requirements.--A recipient may receive a grant in a fiscal year only if--
(1) the recipient, within the time the Secretary prescribes, submits a final program of projects prepared under subsection (c) of this section and a certification for that fiscal year that the recipient (including a person receiving amounts from a chief executive officer of a State under this section) --
(J)(i) will expend for each fiscal year for mass transportation security projects, including increased lighting in or adjacent to a mass transportation system (including bus stops, subway stations, parking lots, and garages), increased camera surveillance of an area in or adjacent to that system, providing an emergency telephone line to contact law enforcement or security personnel in an area in or adjacent to that system, and any other project intended to increase the security and safety of an existing or planned mass transportation system, at least one percent of the amount the recipient receives for each fiscal year under section 5336 of this title; or
(ii) has decided that the expenditure for security projects is not necessary; and
(2) the Secretary accepts the certification.
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 5321, the Secretary of Transportation is authorized to make capital grants available for crime prevention and security. Section 5321 reads:
Sec. 5321. Crime prevention and security
The Secretary of Transportation may make capital grants from amounts available under section 5338 [Authorizations] of this title to mass transportation systems for crime prevention and security. This chapter does not prevent the financing of a project under this section when a local governmental authority other than the grant applicant has law enforcement responsibilities.
Dear Mr. Saporta:
On behalf of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), representing over 175,000 members maintaining and operating bus, light rail, ferry, intercity bus, school bus and paratransit vehicles in the United States and Canada, I am writing to commend the efforts of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Office of Safety and Security in moving to improve transit bus safety through the development of a comprehensive model transit bus safety program, evidenced by the Draft Report prepared for the FTA as Task 3 of the Transit Bus Safety Program, issued on April 20, 2001.
Initially, however, I am compelled to state that we fail to understand why ATU and other transit labor organizations were not listed in Section 1.3 of the Draft Report, itemizing those organizations that have a role in transit bus safety and oversight. Even a partial listing of our activities, including efforts to enhance transit safety through the expansion of transit safety training programs for our members directly and through the National Transit Institute (NTI) and the provision of detailed guidance to our members on the implementation of and compliance with FTA commercial drivers license (CDL) and drug and alcohol testing rules, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, would support our inclusion. Most significantly, these efforts have often been taken in coordination and cooperation with the FTA and the transit industry.
It is crucial then that any efforts involving the development of safety and security standards and best practices for the transit bus industry, integrate the views of the workers providing the services, 90 percent of whom are unionized. Therefore, we respectfully request the FTA consider our comments, detailed below, on the FTA's Draft Report on the Development of a Model Transit Bus Safety Program.
Initially, let me take this opportunity to emphasize that the ATU is committed to improving safety and security for our members and the riding public. As the FTA has acknowledged, the transit bus industry is one of the safest forms of transportation. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, riding a bus is 91 times safer than traveling by car. One of the primary reasons for this unequaled safety record is the fact that the professional operators of transit vehicles are highly trained to drive defensively and anticipate potential safety problems.
Nonetheless, changes in the industry, including technological developments and greater customer demand for on-time performance, mean potential safety problems that must be addressed by policy leaders and transit providers. In addition, growing rates of violence and assaults against transit workers and vehicles require immediate attention and action. With more and more Americans using transit every year, the necessity for improved safety and security measures is essential to moving America safely to work, home, shopping, medical facilities and other destinations.
As such, it is the recommendation of the ATU that FTA (1) include minimum security measures as basic elements in any model safety program; (2) require the adoption of such safety and security plans, either by the states or the transit agencies, as a condition of federal transit funds; and (3) support the establishment of additional transit grants to assist agencies in implementing such safety and security measures.
While the ATU generally supports the safety measures encouraged by the FTA in its Draft Report, startling statistics and recent tragic events demonstrate the need for a much greater focus on transit bus security issues, which receive only nominal attention in the FTA report. Because transit buses bring masses of people together and are highly visible and familiar, they are particularly attractive targets for crime. In addition, transit operators often have to deal with passengers who become angry over bus fares, delays, crowded vehicles and for various other reasons.
According to FTA statistics, 23 percent of all violent acts against transportation occur on transit buses, accounting for almost 5000 incidents in 1999. The tragic results of such incidents are often seen on the nightly news or in the morning newspaper. Most recently, on May 2, 2001, a Los Angeles city bus was hijacked by a gunman and crashed during a police chase through downtown, killing one person and injuring seven others. Attached is a compilation of other violent incidents that have plagued the bus industry this year, as well as a listing of some major attacks against mass transportation.
In its report, FTA has included security measures only as a voluntary element of any transit bus safety plan. While, the ATU acknowledges that transit bus systems vary greatly in services offered, size and resources, and thereby face different security threats, it is our contention that some basic security measures must be taken by all transit bus providers to ensure the safety and well being of both the operators of the vehicles as well as the bus passengers.
Namely, all transit operators should be trained on how to handle potential incidents, including instructions on how to defuse situations involving angry or belligerent riders and how to identify and minimize potentially dangerous situations. Drivers should be given detailed protocols to be followed when a violent situation erupts, such as who to call first for backup, when to stop the bus, when to refuse service to a passenger, when other passengers should be evacuated from the vehicle, etc... This training should be required as a basic element of any safety program.
In addition, all systems should, at a minimum, have a formal agreement with local law enforcement concerning coordination with transit personnel when security breaches occur. These agreements may be as basic or complex as necessitated by the individual transit bus system, considering whether the system has its own police force or security personnel.
Other security measures, including technological and design strategies such as lighting, cameras, panic buttons, alarms and automated ticketing, should be encouraged as voluntary elements of the model safety program. FTA's model program should include more detail concerning the availability and effectiveness of such strategies. Transit service providers should then be directed to consult with their passengers and employees as to what additional equipment and security measures would be most effective towards identifying and minimizing potential threats and areas of vulnerability.
Once a final safety and security model is developed, it must be implemented in a manner that results in widespread adoption of safety and security standards while imposing only a minimal burden on the states and transit providers. In its draft report, the FTA proposed several possible implementation models for the transit bus safety program. The ATU strongly recommends adoption of either Implementation Model I or III.
Unlike Model IV, which would make adoption of safety and security measures voluntary and would impose costs solely upon the transit provider, Models I and III would both require adoption of FTA-defined safety standards as a condition of federal funds. Under Model I, FTA would require states, as a condition of federal funds, to adopt FTA-defined transit bus safety standards. Such a program has been successful in the intercity motor carrier industry July 12, 2001
through the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). Model III would require adoption of the safety standards by the transit providers as a contractual requirement for receipt of FTA funds. In addition, Models I and III would impose minimal burden on the states compared to Model II, which would require the creation of new state entities to enforce and monitor compliance with the requirements.
Finally, in order to ensure full compliance with the safety and security plans, as well as to maximize adoption of the voluntary safety and security elements by transit service providers, FTA must make grant funds available for the specific purpose of implementing these new safety and security measures.
In closing, I again emphasize the unyielding commitment of the ATU to the safety and well-being of the traveling public. I very much appreciate your consideration of these comments on the FTA's Draft Report on the Development of a Model Transit Bus Safety Program. Of course, if you require any additional information concerning our comments and concerns, please do not hesitate to contact this office.
U.S. Government Website