U.S. DOT Chooses Maryland Counties For Transit Pilot Program

Charles, Montgomery and Frederick are all partnering with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to test new safety procedures for transit systems, reports The Frederick News-Post. The federal pilot program will test implementing FTA’s new Safety Management System (SMS) for transit agencies large and small, urban and rural.

FTA defines SMS on its website:

Safety Management System (SMS) is a comprehensive, collaborative approach that brings management and labor together to build on the transit industry’s existing safety foundation to control risk better, detect and correct safety problems earlier, share and analyze safety data more effectively, and measure safety performance more carefully.

According to a post by FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s blog, Fastlane,  SMS is relatively new in the concept of transit, but has proven effective in other industries.

From the News-Post

The SMS format tries to make sure a transit department has the structure and tools in place to try to identify potential safety problems. It focuses on incorporating safety into all parts of a department, from planning and construction to maintenance and operations.

The program is mostly designed to set a culture that can help prevent accidents and incidents before they happen, [Frederick County] TransIT Director Nancy Norris wrote in an email. She wrote that “the County may benefit from this and may be able to implement some or all of the program elements. We will have to see as we move along what makes sense for them to incorporate.”

The pilot program is expected to take about a year, according to Norris. The three Maryland agencies meet with the Maryland Transit Administration for two days in the first week of December to start the process.

FTA  plans on incorporating SMS in all its future projects, according to its blog post.

Source: U.S. DOT’s blog, Fastlane