The National Academies

TCRP F-21 [Completed]

Tools and Strategies for Eliminating Assaults Against Transit Operators

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Countermeasures Assessment & Security Experts, LLC
Principal Investigator: Ernest R. Frazier
Effective Date: 12/13/2013
Completion Date: 7/30/2017
Comments: Completed

In TCRP Synthesis 93: Practices to Protect Bus Operators from Passenger Assault, assault is defined broadly and includes overt physical and verbal acts of aggression by a passenger that interfere with the mission of a bus operator—to complete his or her scheduled run safely—and that adversely affect the safety of the operator and customers. Assaults on transit operators are a significant concern in the transit industry and contribute to absence, productivity shortfalls, and increased levels of stress for the operators. In addition to causing operator injuries, assaults against transit operators on transit vehicles, at bus stops, and on platforms causes fear and engenders a negative perception of transit in the minds of the public and transit passengers, as well as the transit workforce. Transit industry policies, practices, and operating procedures related to preventing, mitigating, and responding to operator assaults are not uniform. The policies and procedures set by the transit agency and situational and design factors can shape mitigation approaches. The format, scale, and implementation of these measures vary greatly among transit agencies. Many agencies have written policies that address workplace violence prevention, but they vary widely in content, scope, and application. Relevant skills and training required by transit operators to address this issue vary as well. TCRP Synthesis 93 includes a framework for understanding transit industry current practices, policies, and tools for addressing this complex, multi-faceted problem. However, further research is needed to better define the issues related to transit operator assaults, mitigation and prevention, including contributing factors such as behavioral and sociological factors, training requirements, community outreach, and policy enforcement practices.
The objective of this research is to develop a practical toolbox for transit agencies to prevent or mitigate assaults against transit operators. The toolbox should include templates for assessing patterns of assaults, reporting of assault incidents, and program impacts, costs, and return on investment. The templates should be customizable by transit agency size and mode, types and prevalence of assaults, situational measures and technologies, types of policing and security, and community involvement. The toolbox should assist a cross-section of transit agencies with evaluating their needs, planning a tailored transit operator assault prevention and mitigation program, executing needed activities, and assessing the program impact. For the purpose of this research, transit operator will include fixed-route bus, rail, and relief operators. The toolbox is expected to be used by senior managers, organized labor, law enforcement officials, legal advisors, training personnel, and policymakers. The final product should complement, not duplicate, information provided in other published and unpublished research.
The research should answer questions such as, but not limited to, the following:
  1. What are the impacts of transit operator assaults on operator health, safety, and retention, and on operations, maintenance, and costs (e.g., ridership attraction and retention)?
  2. Regarding transit operator assaults, how can transit agencies, unions, and other transit groups assess their needs, make data-based decisions, and evaluate program impact?
  3. What are the components of a model assault prevention and mitigation program?
  4. What approaches to preventing and mitigating assaults against transit operators have been shown to be effective, or ineffective, in the transit industry?
  5. What collaborations can be built to enhance transit operator assault prevention and mitigation efforts?
  6. What innovative approaches are used in other industries both in the United States and abroad to prevent and mitigate employee assaults?
  7. What are the barriers to implementing an assault prevention and mitigation program for transit operators?

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