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Rail News: Safety

MBTA acknowledges safety review panel's recommendations

A panel report cited deficiencies in the MBTA's policies, safety standard applications and accountability.
Photo – Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and its Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) yesterday accepted a safety review panel report that cites 34 recommendations and 61 corrective actions aimed at improving safety.

Commissioned by the FMCB in June after a series of derailments and other safety incidents at the MBTA, the panel includes former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; former Federal Transit Administration acting administrator Carolyn Flowers; and former New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco.

Based on 100 interviews, six focus groups and extensive site visits, the panel recommendations call for:

• establishing safety objectives, performance targets and performance indicators that are aligned with industry best practices, closely monitored and sufficiently funded;

• identifying all areas where deferred maintenance is occurring;

• ensuring sufficient resources are devoted to expediting implementation of data collection systems, particularly in the maintenance-of-way, training and medical departments;

• considering the adoption of Federal Railroad Administration standards (that now govern commuter-rail operations) for rapid transit to provide safety standards and guidance;

• strengthening the leadership team, such as by adding more seasoned transit professionals with operations and safety expertise and experience; and

• petitioning the State Legislature to reduce the mandated 36-times-per-year frequency of FMCB meetings, or making meeting preparation less burdensome on staff.

While the agency performs the necessary core functions to be considered a relatively safe system, many aspects of its approach to safety and operations need immediate attention, the report states. The panel cited deficiencies in policies, application of safety standards or industry best practices, and accountability.

"The MBTA has been working aggressively to improve safety across the board, and we have already implemented or begun implementing many of the recommendations of the safety review panel," said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak in a press release. "This has been a constructive and collaborative process that focuses on the highest priority of [all parties]."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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