Over a decade ago, a number of North American rail transit systems requested APTA to develop and implement a standardized format for rail system safety and to provide an auditing service that would enable a transit system to determine the degree to which the standardized elements for rail transit system safety were being addressed. By way of the adaptation of existing industry best practices and system safety standards from the aerospace industry, the APTA Rail Safety Audit Program was inaugurated in 1989. This program was subsequently adopted in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration as the base guideline for its federal state safety oversight requirements.
Currently there are dozens of rail transit systems and bus transit systems participating in APTA safety audit programs. These systems include mass transit/subway systems, light rail systems, automated guide-ways, heavy rail commuter systems, and bus transit operations across North America and Asia. Modal programs have been developed that are specific to urban rail, commuter rail, and bus safety management processes. The benefits to be derived from participation in the APTA Safety Management Program include:
- Adoption of safety management practices that have been established as an industry standard;
- Building and enhancing safety management processes for service delivery and workplace safety;
- Providing a tool for demonstrating transit system diligence for safety; and
- Providing a mechanism for continual improvement of system safety.