Rail transit is one of the safest modes in America, but its accident rates moved in the wrong direction between 2003 and 2008.

DOT Forming Transit Safety Advisory Committee

Although rail transit is one of the safest modes in America, its accident rates moved in the wrong direction between 2003 and 2008.

A new Transit Rail Advisory Committee is being formed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, with the committee's charter taking effect Dec. 8. DOT published its notice of intent to establish the committee on Monday.

Rail transit is one of the safest modes in America, carrying more than 7 million passengers daily with few major incidents. But accident rates for this mode moved in the wrong direction between 2003 and 2008, according to the notice, which lists these changes in those rates:

  • Derailment rates are up from 0.23 to 0.38.
  • Collision rates are up from 0.2 to 0.8.
  • Passenger fatality rates are up from 0.43 to 0.60 (all causes except suicide).
  • Passenger fatality rates from train collisions have held steady at 1 per year.
  • Employee right-of-way fatalities are steady at 3 per year, but double the average number during the previous 15 years.

About 25 people with transit safety expertise will serve on the committee, all of them appointed for two-year terms by the DOT secretary. The panel will meet as needed, but at least twice annually. The Federal Transit Authority’s administrator will select an executive director for the committee.

For more information, contact Mike Flanigon, director of the Federal Transit Administration's Office of Safety and Security, at 202-366-0235 or Mike.Flanigon@dot.gov.

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