PT May 2012 - (Page 8)
Keeping Safety and Security in the Forefront
BY SUSAN R. PAISNER Senior Managing Editor
afety and security are at the forefront of the public transportation industry. How to hire the best people, reduce accidents, encourage reporting of suspicious items—all these elements and more are covered in this case study.
Monterey Salinas Transit
“Safety doesn’t just happen,” said Carl Sedoryk, general manager of Monterey Salinas Transit (MST), Monterey, CA. “It’s the end result of a lot of thoughtful work and reinforcement.” With MST’s mantra being “safety is our number one priority,” Chief Operating Officer Michael Hernandez noted that the agency’s comprehensive, multilevel safety plan “represents a number of years of really focusing on reducing accidents and increasing safety in the organization, and the end results speak to the tremendous skill of our staff in accomplishing this.” Sedoryk talked about the level of research that went into their safety plan: “We have a long history of managing by fact—not by anecdote or feeling.” The system examined data—what accidents were happening, how often, what actions were taken before and after the accident. MST invested time in developing reporting and information systems “to track those things that are important to us. When we see trends in the data going the wrong way, we take action,” he said. That action began in 2003, when MST began evaluating its coach operator candidates with BOSS (Bus Operator Selection Survey), a pre-employment screening program used to measure an applicant’s potential for success, risk, and such critical performance behaviors as safety, customer service, and attendance. Its use has lowered the agency’s terminations from 36 percent to 9 percent and increased the overall retention of new applicants by 25 percent. MST staff worked to identify internal and external hazards on routes, in bus garages, and in its internal procedures. While effective supervision frequently uncovers unsafe practices, sometimes poor internal safety processes are not reported by employees or discovered until after an accident. “Every service area is unique,” said Sedoryk, “but data shows that left-hand turns present unique hazards. Through training and thoughtful route design, you can dramatically reduce the number
of accidents occurring during left-hand turning motions.” The emphasis on a safety culture has paid dividends for MST. Between 2009 and 2011, it reduced chargeable accidents by 44 percent, while revenue miles increased by more than 535,000 miles, or 14 percent! The day Sedoryk and Hernandez were interviewed was MST’s 58th accident-free day. This means their buses have traveled 690,000 accident-free miles—or three trips to the moon! Sedoryk said that, while he’s very pleased with the results, “given the amount of hard work and effort we’ve put into it, I can’t say I’m surprised.”
Security is on the minds of Metro Transit and its police department in Minneapolis. Working as a partnership, Metro Transit and its police department have continued to cultivate their security-minded culture through training frontline employees. Metro Transit police officials used the basic National Transit Institute course on security, but customized it to focus on their specific region and public transit system. The final course, taught by the agency’s police officers, includes such modules as recognizing and reacting to suspicious/dangerous behavior, packages, and objects, and identifying the operator’s role in reducing system vulnerabilities. As Lt. James Franklin said—and was echoed by Chief A.J. Olson and Gen-
eral Manager Brian Lamb: “Bus operators and other frontline employees are the eyes and ears of our organization; it’s a partnership.” He added that a fundamental part of the training is the Transportation Security Administration-developed “HOT” test, which lets employees evaluate what they are looking at in their environment through the lens of: n Is the object Hidden? n Is the object Obviously suspicious (powder on it, leaking some substance)? n Is the object not Typical for the public transit environment (a gas can or propane tank, never allowed on buses or in the transportation system)? “This training,” said Olson, “has allowed us to formalize our constant embrace of a safety and security culture. It gives our frontline operators the tools to articulate what is suspicious about a package, person, or action, and it gives them the confidence to know it’s OK to call for the transit police to respond.” He added: “Our message is—we want to be engaged, we want to help you. While we don’t have police in every transit facility or vehicle, we do have transit staff, and they would be the first ones to notice something unusual.” It also, said Lamb, “reinforces the relationship between our operators and the police department.”
CASE STUDY CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
8 | Passenger Transport
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