RTA Safety

Hybrid Bus with Door Open
Photo Credit: MassDOT

Operating public transit safely is of the utmost importance to every transit agency. Information on injuries and accidents is collected by the RTAs and reported to both the FTA and MassDOT and monitored by these agencies. This section includes the measures and targets of the 12 RTAs deemed as full reporters by the FTA. FRTA, NRTA, and VTA have different reporting requirements due to their reporting status, so they are not included here.

On July 19, 2018, FTA published the Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan (PTASP) Final Rule, which requires certain operators of public transportation systems that receive federal funds under FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Grants to develop safety plans that include the processes and procedures to implement Safety Management Systems (SMS). MassDOT has worked closely with the RTAs to generate the targets required by the PTASP Final Rule, and plans will be published by December 31, 2020.

Injuries

All transit injuries represent the annual number of injuries that resulted from unintentional contact with transit vehicles or property. An injury is recorded for each person who either received medical attention on the premises or was transported away to receive medical care. Injuries are reported for the RTAs for each calendar year. In addition to the total number of injuries, we also include injuries normalized per 100,000 unlinked passenger trips (UPT), and injuries normalized per 1,000,000 vehicle revenue miles.

Fixed-Route Service

The majority of reporting RTAs saw a decline in the number of injuries from CY2018 to CY2019 (seven out of 12). Three RTAs saw an increase (BAT, CATA, MART), and two remained the same.

From the January to July 2020, most RTAs reported no injuries.

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Paratransit

For paratransit services, four RTAs reported a decline in injuries, five reported no change, and three (MART, LRTA, GATRA) reported an increase from CY2018 to CY2019.

From January to July 2020, most RTAs reported no injuries.

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Preventable Accidents

Preventable accidents are defined as those accidents in which the transit driver is typically deemed responsible or partly responsible for the occurrence of the accident. Preventable accidents are reported for each RTA for each fiscal year and normalized per 100,000 unlinked passenger trips (UPT). Data are shown here for each fiscal year along with three-year rolling averages.

Prior to FY20, the rate of preventable accidents trended upwards over the last few years, but the rate of injuries on the whole has trended downwards, though there is variation among the RTAs.

Fixed-Route Services

The RTAs reported between 0 and 8.60 preventable accidents per 100,000 UPT for their fixed-route service in FY20. Five RTAs saw an increase in preventable accidents (BRTA, BAT, FRTA, LRTA, MART), but the majority of RTAs saw a decrease in preventable accidents.

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Paratransit

The RTAs reported between 0 and 37.88 preventable accidents per 100,000 UPT for their paratransit service in FY20. Similarly, to fixed-route service, this is lower than FY19, when RTAs reported between 0 and 40.66 preventable accidents per 100,000 UPT for their paratransit service.

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Fatalities

There were 0 reported fatalities in FY20 for all RTAs.

Fixed Route

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Paratransit

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Safety Events

The safety events measure shows the number of collision events that occur within a calendar year for each RTA. MassDOT tracks both actual safety events and safety events normalized to 1,000,000 VRM (Vehicle Revenue Miles) to account for coverage size differences between RTAs. VRM are the number of miles traveled by transit vehicles in revenue service, as reported by the system for the fiscal year.

Fixed Route Service

In FY20, the RTAs reported between 0 and 6 safety events for their fixed-route service.

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Paratransit

The RTAs reported between 0 and 9 safety events for their paratransit service.

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Mean Distance between Failures

Mean distance between failures measures the ability of transit vehicles to travel in service without being interrupted by mechanical failures. Higher values are better, indicating that vehicles travel longer distances between each failure, on average. Mean distance between failures is measured in miles.

The RTAs reported between 10,937 and 80,000 miles for mean distance between failures for the fixed-route service in FY20. Four of nine RTAs met or surpassed their short-term goals for fixed-route service. For paratransit service, the RTAs reported between 33,877 and 536,282 mean distance between failures in FY20. Nine of nine RTAs met or surpassed their short-term goals for paratransit service.