December 21, 2009
Check the classifieds in this issue for information about numerous managerial and supervisory positions!
|2009: THE YEAR IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
APTA Standards Promote Safety and Efficiency
BY KEVIN DOW, APTA Program Manager-Technical Services
One of APTA’s key efforts has been to bring together public transit agencies, business members, and the federal government to write consensus-based and voluntary standards for the industry. These standards are designed to improve safety, reliability, performance, and efficiency of agency operations and equipment.
APTA members, as well as their partners at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Transportation Security Administration and hundreds of volunteers, participated in dozens of working groups, devoting thousands of hours to craft and codify these industry best practices.
This year, the Standards Development Program focused on:
* Bus Transit
* Commuter Rail
* Information Technology
* Rail Transit
* Sustainability and Urban Design
* Universal Transit Fares
Each standard, recommended practice, technical specification, and report written to date has had an impact on how we do business. Following are highlights from this year’s efforts.
Gap Safety Management
The Accessibility Consensus Standards Program continued its efforts to reach agreement from all stakeholders to gain approval on three primary documents.
Whether a station is built on a curve in the rail, or the height requirements for platforms change at some point during rail system construction, people with mobility issues may have difficulty boarding or alighting from rail cars. The Standard for Gap Safety Management addresses the gap between a rail platform and the rail vehicle, both horizontal and vertical. The document had been balloted at the working group level as Passenger Transport went to press, and release of the standard for public comment is expected in January.
Two other standards are nearing completion and will be released next year: the Recommended Practices for Handling Reservation Hold Times for ADA Complementary Paratransit Call Centers, and Recommended Practices for a Fixed Route Stop Announcement and Route Identification Program. These efforts will help ensure that citizens with mobility challenges can more easily navigate to their destinations using transit.
Sustainability and Urban Design
In a climate of energy conservation and environmental consciousness, the Sustainability and Urban Design Standards (SUDS) program is developing tools to help agencies establish ways to be good stewards of their communities. For example, the group has devised a software program to account for agency greenhouse gas emissions, which has been conceptually completed and will be rolled out next year as an online resource.
SUDS is also developing resources for communities to use in planning, such as Why Design Matters, Transit Area of Influence, and Joint Development. The importance of local and regional partnerships for design is a key topic this group will be pursuing in the coming year.
Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines
The update to the Standard Bus Procurement Guidelines, also known as the White Book, will be released in January 2010 for beta testing. It includes both technical specifications for the vehicles and standardized terms and conditions that can be included in the procurement contract. These guidelines, developed jointly between agencies and manufacturers, are expected to save millions of dollars on bus procurements.
Roadway Worker Protection
Protecting the people who work on our railroad tracks remains a high priority. FTA continues to support APTA’s efforts to create a standard that will codify best practices in promoting adherence to stated safety guidelines in the right-of-way. After many months of effort, this document is expected to be released in January for public comment.
Securing transit systems against both terrorist threats and home-grown crimes has been a top concern of the industry. The Security Standards Program has had a productive year publishing six documents, and is nearing completion on several more.
Finished this year were Recommended Practices for a Continuity of Operations Plan, First Responder Familiarization, Special Events Service, Trash/Recycling Container Placement, CCTV Camera Coverage, and Development and Implementation of a Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan. Seven more documents—ranging in scope from security inspections to mutual aid to emergency communications strategies—are in final review. Several dozen additional documents are “in the pipeline,” to be completed in the upcoming year.
Rail Vehicle Crashworthiness
APTA has worked very closely with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in its release this year of a crashworthiness standard for light rail vehicles, a companion document for the heavy rail crashworthiness standard completed in 2008. This standard is designed to protect not only those riding inside the light rail vehicle, but also occupants of small cars and other vehicles that could be involved in a collision with the train.
The Bus Standards Program completed two documents this year related to another high-profile issue for our industry: distracted drivers. Distractions can be either agency-controlled, such as dispatch communications, or driver-controlled, such as texting and talking on cell phones.
These documents make recommendations that agencies develop policies, procedures, and training programs to limit both types of distractions, along with recommendations for enforcement and analysis of policy effectiveness.
TCIP Implementation Requirements and Capabilities Editor
The IT Standards Program rolled out a program this year, in cooperation with the National Transit Institute, to train agency technology specialists in the use of the new TCIP Implementation Requirements and Capabilities Editor, an electronic tool designed to help agencies easily define their IT enterprise system architecture and output standard TCIP language to state requirements for any future system procurements. Several pilot programs are underway, putting the tool through testing in real-world acquisition projects.
TCIP compliance is trending toward becoming de facto language for transit industry IT contracts.
Hours of Service
Operator fatigue has been a contributing factor to accidents in both rail and bus operations. Before this year, no standards existed for the amount of time required between shifts, or how many consecutive hours would be allowed for a shift.
In response to an increase in recent incidents, and in cooperation with FTA, APTA published a Standard for Train Operator Hours of Service Requirements in January. A similar document for bus operations is due for publication soon.
Training for Mechanics
The Bus Standards Program has published seven out of eight proposed programs to help agency maintenance personnel to design and implement training programs to prepare their mechanics to take the new ASE Certification tests to be Certified Transit Mechanics. APTA, the Transportation Learning Center, and labor representatives are also working in cooperation to gain consensus on a set of standard training objectives for rail vehicles, signals, elevators and escalators, and traction power.
Each of these efforts is expected to be completed early next year.
Contactless Fare Media Standard
Every year, more agencies are pursuing integration of their fare collection systems with both interconnected modes in their own systems and with outside, regional systems to promote a single and unified way for our customers to pay their fares. Part V of the Contactless Fare Media System Standard, the last in this series, was completed this year. This part of the standard defines how to test and certify that a system is compliant with the hardware and software specifications of the CFMS standard.
This year was a productive one for the APTA Standards Development Program, with the completion of many large-scale and high-profile efforts through the efforts of many members and associates.
We look forward to the coming year as we finish standards already in progress and seek new areas in which we can achieve better safety, reliability, performance, and efficiency while reducing liability.