For commuter rail operators and the entire public transportation industry, safety is our first priority. Safety is not simply a value we share; it is a core operating principle and a promise to our riders.
Even before PTC was fully implemented, commuter rail was among the safest form of transportation; with PTC operational, traveling by rail is even safer. Traveling by commuter and intercity rail is 18 times safer than traveling by auto. Between 2000 and 2017, commuter rail safely operated 8.2 billion trips and 194 billion passenger miles.
Traveling by commuter or intercity rail is
than traveling by automobile
We are incredibly proud of the outstanding safety record and our dedication to the safety of riders, operators, and the communities we connect.
PTC is only the latest effort to make commuter rail even safer.
There is a long-standing industry requirement to conduct a safety inspection even before the rail vehicle departs. This includes a thorough inspection by the operator inside the cab and the vehicle, and an external vehicle inspection with a brake system functional check. It is also an industry requirement that a supervisor conduct spot checks to ensure an effective pre-trip safety inspection. Another example of our focus on rail safety is our long-standing participation in Operation Lifesaver, an organization that promotes driver and pedestrian safety near train tracks.
Our Commitment To Safety
PTC is only the latest example of commuter rail’s commitment to safety – it’s embedded in nearly everything we do. Already among the safest form of transportation, the commuter rail industry is continuously working to develop and implement new measures to keep riders and communities safe.
Here are just a few of the measures the industry has taken to make commuter rail safe.
- Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) We worked with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to develop a voluntary reporting program that allows railroad carriers and their employees to report close calls and unsafe conditions, free from the fear of discipline. We found that creating a safe environment can have a positive impact on overall safety. C3RS has been successfully implemented by several large commuter railroads including, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, SEPTA, MBTA/Keolis, Metra, Metro-North, and Long Island Rail Road.
- Sleep Apnea Testing Sleep apnea is often the cause of operator fatigue that can lead to accidents. APTA, together with many commuter rail agencies and employee unions, developed programs to test operators for sleep apnea and fatigue to prevent accidents before they happen. With no national law or rule to enforce sleep apnea treatment in place, the industry is leading the way on safety.
- APTA Safety Management Audit Program An industry-adopted program, the APTA Safety Management Audit provides a review of an agency’s safety management processes and a tool for demonstrating system safety. Aligned with Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the requirements from the FRA in the Part 270 rule, teams of three to five auditors visit commuter rail systems to assess the agency’s safety plan and conduct tours of the system. The auditors issue a final report telling agencies how they can improve safety system-wide.
- Inward and Outward-Facing Cameras As cameras become more common on trains and buses to improve security and safety, commuter rail agencies are starting to adopt both inward and outward-facing cameras. While most transit and commuter rail agencies already have outward facing cameras, many are starting to adopt inward facing cameras as well. APTA supports the use of both inward and outward-facing cameras. 93% of commuter rail agencies already employ inward and outward facing cameras.