Today the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced that Pierce Transit has earned the “Certificate of Merit” for Bus Safety in 2020, recognizing the agency as a top innovator in bus safety among midsized transit agencies in 2019.
Awards were given based on a number of criteria, including a high level of management participation and resource allocation to safety; solid data to support the program’s effectiveness; safety improvements that have positive human and economic benefits; and programs that have a positive effect on the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others in the transit environment.
“At Pierce Transit, we have placed a great deal of emphasis on embedding safety into our culture,” said Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier. “From our operator training procedures to our response to COVID-19 and beyond, we are keeping the safety of our employees, customers and the community top-of-mind.”
Pierce Transit received the recognition following the implementation of several key safety initiatives, including:
- DriveCam. With the addition of a Lytx® Driver Safety Program, Pierce Transit safety leaders are now alerted to potentially unsafe driving events and provide one-on-one coaching in response those specific events to help drivers of all agency vehicles hone their skills and change risky driving habits. With DriveCam, risky behaviors decreased 86 percent from the benchmark in August 2018 through December 2019. In addition, Pierce Transit issues Distinguished Driving Certificates to drivers who experience a close call and use defensive driving skills to avoid an accident or event. The agency awarded 274 Distinguished Driving Certificates in 2019.
- Agency Safety Committee and Safety Recognition. Pierce Transit has renewed and reinvigorated its Safety Committee, consisting of employees from across the agency that work cooperatively to identify potential hazards and find solutions. The Committee is also responsible for coordinating a “Safety and Wellness Day” each year that involves all agency employees’ safety through things such as healthy food tastings, health-related vendor displays and Personal Protective Equipment demonstrations. Pierce Transit also recognizes an agency employee each quarter that identifies or implements safety measures that protect employees, customers and the public.
- Proactive Safety Planning. Pierce Transit was one of the first transit agencies in the nation to have its federally-required Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan vetted by the Federal Transit Administration, and other transit agencies have called on Pierce Transit for guidance as they form their own plans.
- Bus Operator Training Program. Pierce Transit recently revamped its bus operator training program to one overseen by the agency’s Service Delivery, Safety and Risk Management departments, which work together to provide an updated, effective and standardized training program for both new and veteran drivers. As a next step, Pierce Transit is partnering with a private contractor to develop and implement a Virtual Reality (VR) training system that allows three-dimensional interaction with safety inspections, road hazards and routes.
- Quarterly All-Agency Safety Meetings. Each quarter, Pierce Transit holds a multi-hour series of safety meetings for employees on all shifts with an emphasis on current safety issues and timely topics.
- Million Mile Club. In 2019, Pierce Transit inducted 45 bus operators into the agency’s new “Million Mile Club” for driving one-million miles or more without a preventable accident. Of those, five operators were recognized for two-million miles or more, and one became the first in the agency’s history to be recognized for three-million accident-free miles.
- Pedestrian Collision Avoidance System Project. Pierce Transit is the lead transit agency in a national project with government, industry and academia to evaluate a Pedestrian Avoidance Safety System (PASS) for transit buses. The technology is designed to avoid or reduce the severity of collisions when a pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle is detected and automatically decelerates the bus. If successful, the technology could be implemented in transit fleets across the nation.