Lots of Ideas From Transit Workers in Dialogue on Assaults

They cited the need for fully functional, modern technology, including video surveillance equipment to ensure the safety of transit workers, as well as de-escalation training for workers, passenger education campaigns, and increased police presence, Acting Federal Transit Administrator Carolyn Flowers reports.

Transit workers suggested a number of improvements that could increase their safety against assaults in a National Online Dialogue on Transit Worker Assault that the Federal Transit Administration launched this year. They cited the need for fully functional, modern technology, including video surveillance equipment to ensure the safety of transit workers, as well as de-escalation training for workers, passenger education campaigns, and increased police presence, Acting Federal Transit Administrator Carolyn Flowers reported in a post on the DOT blog.

Flowers explained that the agency plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on transit worker assault, required by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, in early 2017.

"I have a message for everyone who participated in the online dialogue: FTA hears you. Transit worker assault is a serious, often-underreported issue, and there are many measures available to address it," she wrote. "In addition to the Online Dialogue, I recently visited New York City to learn how the nation's largest transit system is addressing the problem of assaults on transit workers. I traveled by both bus and subway to observe operator/passenger interactions first-hand and see mitigation measures in use, such as protective barriers that shield the bus operator. All of these experiences will help FTA develop a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to establish rail and bus safety standards, practices, or protocols for protecting rail and bus operators, and all transit workers, from the risk of assault."

The proposed rule will aim to encourage solutions to protect transit workers from any assault, whether it be verbal assaults such as threats and harassment, which are reported by transit workers to be as much of a problem as violent or physical assaults, she added, explaining that more than 130 workers participated in the dialogue and they represented "large urban and small rural transit agencies alike. Of the nearly 60 ideas put forward by dialogue participants, one topic stood out above all others: passenger fare disputes. Several potential prevention strategies were discussed, including enhancing fare policy, removing fare enforcement from the drivers, and automating fare collection. Dialogue users also commented on the need for fully-functional, modern technology such as radios, protective barriers, and video surveillance equipment to ensure the safety of transit workers. Other proposed mitigations included de-escalation training for transit workers, passenger education campaigns, legal remedies, and increased police presence or a dedicated transit police force."

She wrote that FTA will use the Safety Management System approach as it drafts the proposed rule and said it will provide updates to the industry on its progress.

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