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Yesterday, U.S. Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 1139).The bill would require U.S. transit-rail agencies to develop a rail operations worker assault risk reduction program in two years. Agencies would need to conduct a risk analysis of assaults on rail workers, including operators and station personnel; develop their plans in cooperation with labor representatives; and implement a plan for rail worker assault mitigation.Bus transit agencies also would be required to develop an operations safety risk reduction program in partnership with their transit workforce and with oversight from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).Moreover, the legislation — which was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure — would require all agencies to report every transit worker assault to the USDOT's national transit database.
"Assaults on transit workers, whether physical or verbal, cannot be tolerated, and we must do all we can to put an end to them. Such attacks, which have become too commonplace throughout the country," said Napolitano in a press release. "Our legislation aims to prevent assaults, further increase public safety by eliminating dangerous and unnecessary blind spots, and provide additional upgrades to the transportation systems in our communities."H.R. 1139 is supported by the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Transportation Division (SMART TD), Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and Teamsters.The bill is commonsense legislation that will ensure transit workers and riders will be safer, and transit systems will operate more efficiently, said ATU International President Larry Hanley.
"Verbal abuse, knife-wielding passengers, dangerous bus driver blind spots, and unhealthy work environments have unfortunately become a routine part of the job for transit workers," he said. "This is threatening not only the health and safety of transit workers, but endangering riders, pedestrians and everyone else on our streets."The bill would make the workplace safer for commuter-rail workers nationwide, said SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch."Thank you to Representatives Napolitano and Katko for refining this important piece of legislation, and for being steady in their continuing commitment to making public transportation safer in the United States," he said. "Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure transit workers and those who use public transit receive the protection they deserve."