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Center Identification Number: 527-02


Project Title: State Bus Transit Safety Guide


Final Report - Link to Bus Safety Website


Principal Investigator: 


Deborah Sapper

Phone: (813) 974-1446





Center for Urban Transportation Research

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida 33620

Fax: (813) 974-5168



External Project Contact:


Mike Johnson, Operations Administrator

(850) 414-4525


I. Project Objective: 


Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Regulations currently require State Safety Oversight of fixed guideway transportation systems including the development of System Safety Program Plans (FTA Part 659--Rail Fixed Guideway Systems; State Safety Oversight).  FTA is currently considering similar safety requirements for FTA funded bus transit systems.  In July of 2001, FTA developed a draft “Model Transit Bus Safety Program.”  This document defines a model transit bus safety program inclusive of safety oversight functions to complement the implementation of a transit safety program.


The Program was initiated by the FTA in response to a 1998 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) special investigation report entitled “Transit Bus Safety Oversight” (PB98-917006, NTSB/SIR-98/03). The document was the result of findings from investigations and a subsequent public hearing in March 1998 concerning high-profile bus accidents in the United States. The NTSB report observed that there is a lack of consistency among the states regarding oversight of transit bus safety and there is currently no overall Federal regulatory structure guiding the oversight of transit bus safety. Consequently, NTSB recommended that the U.S. DOT, the American Public Transit Association (APTA), the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) “develop…a model comprehensive safety program(s) and provide it to all transit agencies.” The goal of the recommendations was to encourage the development of transit bus safety standards and practices that large bus agencies, as well as small transit bus operations, could practicably implement.


It is expected that the prevention of accidents and the prevention of passenger and employee injuries and property damage through a proactive safety program will save money.  More importantly, however, transit bus systems, whether public agencies or private contractors to public agencies, use public funds to provide transportation services to members of the general public. Their vehicles operate on public thoroughfares, interacting with the general public and private vehicles that share these public facilities. Members of the general public who use transit bus services expect to be transported safely to their destination. Other drivers that share the road with transit vehicles have a right to expect that transit operations will not endanger them. As a result, the transit bus provider has an ethical obligation to provide safe and secure services to their customers and to not endanger other members of the public by their operations. A strong safety policy and system safety program, and management commitment to performing the activities that contribute to safe operation and safe interaction with the general public – through a proactive safety program – is simply good management practice and the right thing to do. This ethical obligation also extends to the transit employees in their workplace. Employees should be able to understand the safety objectives of the system, and expect a safe and secure work environment.


It is currently being discussed that these regulations would be of a voluntary nature as opposed to the requirements of fixed guideway systems.  Based on discussions with representatives of FTA, AASHTO, APTA and CTAA at a recent bus safety and security forum in Washington, D.C., a request was made for the development of a bus transit safety management practices guide and model program to aid states and transit systems in the development of a system safety program and related implementing procedures.


II. Project Abstract:


The purpose of this project is to gather industry “Best Practices” for developing model state safety programs, necessary state legislation, for the development of improved bus transit safety standards and practices.  This guide, as well as associated information to be included on a website, will serve to aid states in the development of a state system safety program and related implementing procedures which will address the voluntary requirements to be established by the FTA.


III. Research Proposed:


In consultation with FTA and AASHTO, and as directed by the project review panel, CUTR will: 


Task 1. Collection of Best Practices


Through surveys and follow-up telephone interviews with State DOTs and transit agencies, CUTR will gather industry “Best Practices” for developing model State DOT safety programs.  Included in this data gathering will be information regarding state level legislation regarding bus safety/security and transit insurance pools. 


Task 2. Development of Program Elements


It is envisioned that the Safety Program will be built on a set of “Core” program elements to be voluntarily established by all transit systems, and a set of “Enhanced” elements to be followed by transit systems in UZAs of 200,000 or greater.  Working with FTA, a sliding scale of voluntary elements will be developed based on system size and complexity.  Based on up to date information from FTA, and established State safety programs collected in Task 1, CUTR will further refine the Safety Program Elements and develop a generic State DOT bus transit safety program outline.


Task 3. Provide information on state transit insurance pools


CUTR will collect available information related to transit insurance pools currently active in the industry.  This information will include years of existence, number of participants, trends of the program (participants, costs, claims), cost savings to participants, and the pros and cons of the programs.


Task 4. Provide peer-to-peer assistance and training


Through the 18 month timeframe of the project, CUTR will provide technical assistance and training, and establish a peer-to-peer network of individuals capable and able to provide assistance related to the Safety Program as requested by State DOT’s.  These resources may include experts from the National Transit Institute (NTI), Transportation Safety Institute (TSI), and Volpe.


Task 5. Develop a web-based interactive resource site, with links to other related resources


Information gathered in Tasks 1-3 and technical assistance shared in Task 4 will be available through a website developed for this project and housed at CUTR.  This website will coordinate with any related FTA, APTA, AASHTO and CTAA safety resource sites to avoid unnecessary duplication, and will provide links to relevant information available through other resources.  Information to be included in the website will include at a minimum: safety program outline templates, example safety policies, example state safety legislation, safety program core and enhanced elements, and other “Best Practices” safety procedures.


Task 6. Create a CD-ROM version of website to ensure access to information


An up-to-date CD version of the website will be maintained and distributed to those unable to access the web based safety resource site, or in need of a CD for presentation purposes.


Task 7. Program Effectiveness


As possible, within the budget and time constraints of the project, CUTR will attempt to measure the effectiveness of the program over time.  This will be accomplished both qualitatively and quantitatively through comparison of data and interviews with industry participants.


Peer Review Panel:  


A project review team has been established and will consist of the following state DOT members from AASHTO’s Multi-State Technical Assistance Program (MTAP):


Mike Johnson – Florida DOT, Project Manager

Bill Sapper – Arizona

Trini Brassard – Vermont

John Dockendorf – Pennsylvania

Ken LaRue – Oklahoma

Pat Loose – Colorado

Barb Savary – Washington

Kim White – Ohio

Rachel Beyerle - AASHTO 


CUTR will coordinate the project with APTA, CTAA, and FTA to ensure the scope and activities are consistent with industry goals and objectives.  Coordination activities will be communicated with the project review team.  It is understood that travel by CUTR and the FDOT Project Manager, within the budget of the project, will be necessary for attending project peer review panel meetings, related conferences, and FTA Bus Safety Workshop Group meetings in order to gather and share information related to the project mission.


IV. Project Schedule 























Task 1




















Task 2




















Task 3




















Task 4




















Task 5




















Task 6




















Task 7





















V. Project Budget




   Faculty Salaries ($32 X 1,253.7 hours)


   Administrative Staff Salaries


   Other Staff Salaries


   Graduate Student ($12 X 83.3 hours)


   Undergraduate Salaries


   Staff Benefits


Total Salaries and Benefits


   Permanent Equipment


   Expendable Equipment and Supplies


   Domestic Travel


   Other Costs


Total Direct Costs


   Indirect Costs





Notes: This budget does not reflect any federal participation.

The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above.


VI. Student Involvement


Graduate students will be used to acquire and input data as necessary and to assist in the production of the draft and final versions of the report.


VII. Relationship to Other Research Projects


Follows up on current FTA Fixed Guideway System Safety Program Plans (FTA Part 659 – Rail Fixed Guideway Systems: State Safety Oversight), FTA draft “Model Transit Bus Safety Program”, and a NTSB special investigative report entitled “Transit Bus Safety Oversight”.


VIII. Technology Transfer Activities/Peer Review


The final report will be shared through the project website, updated as a CD version, and contained on the NCTR web site, with final reports to the FDOT, and USDOT Office of Research and Special Programs Administration. 


IX. Potential Benefits of the Project


Public transportation professionals in Florida and elsewhere will have immediate access to the latest bus safety information, regulations and guidelines.


X. TRB Keywords


Public Transportation, safety, safety oversight, bus transit



National Center for Transit Research · at the Center For Urban Transportation Research · University of South Florida · 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 · Tampa, FL 33620-5375 · (813) 974-3120 · (813) 974-5168 · · Comments: