Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trimet Safety Meeting Report

Neil's opening remarks - we're "in the eye of the storm", referring to the Kindle incident.  

Met with operator & union rep earlier today, fired him

Neil had anecdote of driver on the 17 who avoided an accident when a car cut him off, said there *are* good drivers out there.

Tom Walsh - not surprised by Neil's story about the 17, completely "appalled" by Kindle driver


Steve Callas - manager of service performance spoke on data & analysis of incidents

Showed slide of data flow:
Operator, supervisor, customer service give information to dispatch/control, which set up the ACID report.
From ACID - sent to claims, also trend analysis, generate Accident Report
   - Trainers determine "ready for review"
   - Report to safety manager, begins Accident Review Board process

Question of what's an Accident vs Incident?
- Accident = Collision
- Incident = for example, a fall.

Next up, some slides showing bus accidents per month, followed by accidents per month by vehicle miles
 - Accidents per month look fairly even, but in months where there were increases in service, accident rates actually dropping

Spike in accidents on slide showing bus accidents by month - due to major snowstorm that month

Darla Sturdy & David Sale - questioned why calling 911 was not in the flowchart.
Josh & Neil - dispatch has priority line to 911 so they handle that. 
Darla said she got information stating otherwise from Salem - calling 911 from your own phone is just as fast as a dispatcher doing it so waiting for dispatch is actually slow when time is critical.

Next were slides showing rail accidents per month.  November 2008 - 0 accidents
-  Darla disagreed, has data from TriMet showing 3 incidents that month.
- Concerns about inconsistencies in TriMet's data

Then a slide of bus collision details (PA / NPA, type of accident (e.g. mirror strike, bus into car, car into bus, etc)

Committee member Rob Sandowsky - teaches safety - "100% of accidents are preventable" (argued operator should be able to prevent any accidents)

Allen Morgan was asked if accident data is used in training
- yes, gets positive response from operators

Committee member Robert - can data be disaggregated to show which bus lines have highest rates?  Yes
Follow up question - is that information available to operators?  No.

Robert - interested in seeing distinctions between noninjury, injury, and fatalities instead of just aggregated data

Committee member Pringle - Is this data part of operator's safety performance review?
Allen - operator meets with manager on first PA.  2nd PA - taken out of service, 8 hr class.  3rd PA in 2 year period - 8 hour one on one class
NPAs are also looked at, goal is to see those go down as well.

Committee member Amy - are there regular meetings with operators on positive performance, recognition of zero incidents?
Committee member Shirley (bus operator) - information posted for operators regarding specific points of danger or other concerns (e.g. a turn that swings particularly wide). Allen - this information is updated daily

Pringle - are there differences in accidents/incidents if an operator is familiar with the route?
Allen - yes - there is a decrease once an operator has learned a route, but there is also the risk of complacency if they get too comfortable with the route & get careless.

Rob - interested in studies of alertness, circadian rhythms, differences between night & day operators

Next up Denis speaking on TriMet safety department (handout with statement of purpose, overview, etc)

Denis - we are very interested in improving safety, will take all information given to us and give it careful consideration
Aware of concerns regarding safety at TriMet, specifically the yellow card program & lack of response to operators has resulted in operators no longer doing yellow cards.  Need to take yellow cards seriously and act on it and get back to operators - currently operators feel like they're not being listened to

Amy - are the internal safety committee meetings monitored to ensure consistency, coverage of critical items, etc.
Denis - no, so that's an area to improve

Robert to Denis - do you report on safety to your superiors in the org?  Denis - no, also area to improve

Pringle - noted there are 7 safety committees, most of them focused on bus transportation - so then most incidents are on bus transportation?  Yes

Tom - it sends a "horrible signal" that there is no response to operator concerns about safety

The committee member who is from UPS - wasn't present tonight but sent message via Tom - "safety should not be a priority, it should be a value" 

Tom - if TriMet making a choice between funding safety or financial performance, the organization needs a cultural underpinning of safety over financial performance. Value should always trump priority. 

Next up Ken Zatarain - Scheduling director
Overview how running times are established between timepoints
Get daily aggregate reports of bus travel, then aggregate into 3-6 months.
Variability on operators and trips and days, so they look to the 60-80th percentile. 
Try to keep schedule changes to plus or minus 3 minutes so public info doesn't have to be reprinted

(he had a handout and pretty much covered everything on it point by point so I didn't take a lot of notes on his talk. Can provide copies of the handout if needed)

Pringle - what connection do you make between scheduling and safety?
Zatarain - work closely with training, would like more interactions with operators both at garages and in the field for firsthand input

Pringle - people whose input is used to build a system take better ownership of making it work than if handed something and told "make this work"

Amy - do you use the ACID data?   No.

Committee member Deb - questioned basing runtimes on established schedules - isn't it a self-fulfilling prophecy if operators run themselves into the ground to make their timepoints so you decide "this timing works" when it really doesn't because of impact on operators? 
Zatarain - that's why we need to get input from operators in the field, because yes, that can happen

Deb - And if there is a major system change (e.g. like the opening of the TriMet mall) do you do more evaluations?
Zatarain - yes, did when mall opened. But still had to make approximations and hope that it worked because everything had to be printed for the public before it opened.
Same problem with schedule reductions - carrying more people on longer headways will slow operators down - need more focus here

Rob - had participated in weekly traffic meetings with the City of Chicago.  Similar practice done here?
Zatarain - efforts made to stay abreast of reroutes or scheduling issues

Committee member Jan, to Shirley - are operators listened to with regard to runtimes?
Shirley - yes. 
Have been problems with trying to load mobility devices, can take up to 8 minutes to onload and offload if person is unfamiliar with using their scooter/device/etc. More problematic on some routes than others - on 75  &77 - the first few weeks of every month can be difficult to keep schedule because of that.

Tom - "bookends of safety and scheduling"

Tom - with technology changes like texting stop IDs and using iphones, the printed schedule will be obsolete

David Sale wanted to ask question here - Tom said important to keep to agenda, public commentary will be done later.
Next - Hayden Talbot - summarize how transportation managers respond to operator performance

Will have intervention with employees if there are concerns in order to prevent incidents

Showed what an operator profile report looks like, profile done annually on a rolling basis depending on their date of hire
- will review with assistant manager at their garage

Had an example story of an intervention - a TriMet employee felt their bus driver was unsafe, reported them.  Operator brought in and data packs pulled, showed the operator their tape. Operator was retrained and took the incident to heart, showed significant improvement

Robert (reading from a handout that wasn't technically part of Hayden's talk) - 4 PAs in 2 years for termination - is the severity of those PAs taken into consideration?
Hayden - somewhat - look at things like mirrors, fenders, etc... if very serious incident, they don't wait for 4 to happen.
Robert - what determines that it's an egregiously serious incident?
Hayden - the accident review team
Amy - what is the rule for termination?
Hayden - don't have specific data
Amy - is it difficult to terminate?
Hayden - "due process" - requires careful examination

Pringle to Hayden - with regard to the union - how do we elevate safety? is the union a team in terms of that or are they waiting to fight?
Hayden - never found a union eboard officer not sensitive to safety
Pringle - between agency & union - is there a shared objective for safety?
Hayden - union & frontline employees share those values

Tom - two points.  1 - if you are looking for a fight, you will get it.  If you are fair, they will be too. 2 - safety as a value is non-negotiable. ATU should be on board with that

Tom - now time for open, unstructured discussion among the committee members. 
Possible things to cover - similarities seen between operator and manager feedback? What is the sense of teamwork? Pressures on operators of schedule over safety

Jan - need to address the yellowcard issue.  
Also had concerns (as a disabled person) of operators running late and taking off from stops fast, particularly if people with poor balance issues have not found a seat or something to hold onto yet.

Rob - back to the data - wants to see a breakdown more, such as what accidents were due to weather, what was distracted driving, etc

Robert - Quality of service - do we have systems to allow improvement over time? Use data in proactive way to improve overall operations.
Operators will be more involved if they feel their concerns are validated

Deb - teamwork - some departments seem to work together but the system as a whole doesn't.  Communication breakdown between management and frontline workers.

Pringle - need the right framework in place before tinkering with details.
Safety not just an item to do
The tone at the top of the organization needs to be set - then use organizational theory and organizational psychology to make it effective
TriMet brand management - what should the TriMet brand be?  "Best transit company in the US?"

Shirley - her perspective is customer service first, safety second, schedule third.
Have to be a people person and function with all types of people to do this job.  Customer service is the top above safety, and if something has to give, for her it was scheduling.
Shirley - none of us want to injure anyone
Had a passenger who just wanted to talk while she was in bumper to bumper traffic, had to tell woman that she really couldn't talk because she had to focus on driving.  Everyone is and needs to be safety-focused

Committee member Greg (rail operator) - have to work at safety, it doesn't just "happen"
Need to learn from own mistakes and the mistakes of others.  Awareness all the time.
Need to be conscious of rail and auto signals and movements of cars following them. 
Recognition of superior performance - Master (Greg is a Master Operator) and Grandmaster program
- TriMet recently removed the financial incentives for that

Pringle - asked Greg about his opinion of professionalism of TriMet operators
Greg - at rail everyone wants to be good.  No one wants to have to write a report, even for blowing a signal


First up Darla Sturdy. Gave her background (son killed in Gresham years ago at an intersection that operators and external consultants had said was unsafe.  TriMet didn't channelize it until years later when a second fatality happened there)
Concerns that safety committee only runs through October - not going to fix anything
Need more public education and outreach - people from out of town can be very confused by signage on mall for example.
Had sample pamphlets from Phoenix - safety information on transit there in English & Spanish. TriMet needs something like that
Was also concerned about the inconsistencies in data reporting from TriMet
If this is really about safety, shouldn't what they're talking about already be done?

Next - David Sale.
Was going to show videos of operators in action. Tom refused
David is discouraged - can't act on what you don't see
Says Shirley & Greg seem like good operators, but the concern is not for passengers but bystanders. His nephew's car was hit by a train. TriMet said he ran a red light, witness testimony was that the train did. And all the safety committee does is get Tom's opinion of how things are
It's now 5 months after the Sandi Day crash - right after it happened David pleaded with the board to make changes.  Here to help them.
Little actually done to affect change - everything being done is to quiet the masses and look like safety issues are being taken seriously. 
Knows that Sandi didn't do it on purpose. His grievance is not with operators.
Says TriMet fired her to take the attention off  them and blame Sandi
Ridiculous that she got fired - TriMet needs to give her an office job as an operator advocate.
No question of customer service, but there is neglect in giving operators the tools they need and changing their attitude (e.g. they're in trouble if they're not on time so being on time becomes the most important thing)
The task force is a joke. 
If safety was important, every seat on the committee table would be filled at every meeting.
Pringle - what needs to change?
David - tape every single driver, though Neil said earlier today that was an invasion of privacy, but David says they need to directly monitor drivers.
Change attitude and educate - national proble, not just at TriMet
Offended that committee asked him what things should be changed since K&J gave them a list of things to change. Says Tom doesn't give a crap what he wants.
But David not giving up until things DO change.

Next - Leon Shavaria
on the CAT committee board - had concerns about pedestrian safety

Next - Robert Butler
"pleasantly surprised" by bravery of saying culture
Feels culture at TriMet is "cancerous" - City of Portland shares the blame though
Hears comments like "best mass transit company in the US" - if that's wrong, it's a real obstruction to progress
"We have talent" - hasn't seen it, but wants to.
Wants to see safety records of employees
About last month's challenge to find the safety issue he's been trying to address.  Noticed it wasn't on the agenda.
Pringle - "What does cancerous culture mean to you?"  Robert Butler - I will come back to that
Tom - had his staff look into Robert's history of this problem, unable to find anything.  Robert was also informed that this search had failed.
Said that the futility of operators trying to solve safety problems - THAT is part of the cancerous culture
Was also concerned that K&J verbally spoke of problems at meetings that were not included in the reports.
- not enough staff for the safety committee
- not enough security on transit
Went and spoke with a supervisor about safety hazards of facilities, something he hasn't heard much of in these meetings.
Supervisor agreed, City of Portland also contributing to the problem
Had asked supervisor to yellowcard a problem for him.  Supervisor said "no, it's a waste of time because TriMet does not listen to her."  Said she could be quoted on that, though he did not give her name to the committee
Mentioned safety concerns with the Type 4s - many safety flaws (visibility, braking, mirrors)
New transit mall - full of safety concerns
Asked committee what the #1 most significant problem was as listed in the K&J report.  No answer from committee.
- said it was the reliability of management to communicate information to frontline operators
Culture problem is NOT bottom-up, it is top-down.  TriMet's emphasis is on how they're the best so they need to build build build. 
Core problems in equipment.
As for his original safety concern, Tom offered to speak with him after the meeting - Robert said he didn't want to say anything to Tom that was not told to the committee as a whole. Tom said he respected that.  In short, they still don't know what the problem was.

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