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The National Academies

TCRP J-05/Topic 18-02 [Active]

Codes of Conduct on Transit Vehicles and Property: Legal Issues

  Project Data
Funds: $50,000
Staff Responsibility: Gwen Chisholm-Smith
Research Agency: Countermeasures Assessment & Security Experts, LLC
Principal Investigator: Ron Frazier
Effective Date: 1/9/2019
Completion Date: 7/9/2020
Comments: Research in Progress

PREAMBLE

 

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) plans to award a contract for a study and report. Legal research reports sponsored by this project are published in TCRP's Legal Research Digest (LRD) series in electronic format. Publications are made available to some libraries and to approximately 4,000 transportation lawyers and officials through the TRB distribution network. 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Public transportation agencies strive to offer safe, clean, courteous, and accessible service for the safety, convenience, and comfort of their customers. Some agencies have developed written codes of conduct for patrons that establish rules prohibiting certain conduct that may adversely affect use, operation, or occupancy of their vehicles and facilities. Other agencies apply informal rules to the same end.

 

Whether written or communicated informally, codes of conduct supplement general laws in defining expected behavior for transit customers. Clear, sensible, and legally sound codes, effectively publicized and applied with compassion and common sense, can promote a pleasant and positive experience for transit users, a better work environment for agency personnel, and a welcoming environment for new riders. However, enforcement can be difficult. If codes of conduct are unclear, overly restrictive, harshly and unevenly applied and enforced, or facilitate unlawful discrimination, they can lead to serious adverse legal consequences for transit agencies. 

 

OBJECTIVE

 

The objective of this research is to produce a report that provides practical advice and checklists for transportation agencies and their attorneys to consult in developing, improving, applying, and enforcing their own codes of conduct. This research will include at a minimum: (1) a comprehensive review of legal standards applicable to codes of conduct; and  (2) a survey of numerous transit agencies, large and small, to determine if they have written or informal codes of conduct. Survey questions will cover what terms are contained in the respective codes, how the codes are administered and enforced, and what legal issues have arisen.

 

Additional issues to be examined include:

  • Due process
  • Enforcement policies and strategies, including removing offenders from vehicles/property, suspension orders, and appeals
  • ADA issues, including reasonable modification
  • Issues in regulating time spent at facilities; constitutional problems with loitering laws
  • First Amendment concerns involved in seeking to regulate loud conversation, annoying cellphone use, and offensive language
  • Second Amendment issues involved in regulating firearms
  • Racial, ethnic, or other illegal profiling and other discrimination issues
  • Public relations and training
  • Issues in regulating food and drinks
  • “Manspreading”, offensive odors, and other occupancy issues
  • Legal constraints on regulating animals, including service animals
  • Clothing and public exposure rules

 

The Legal Research Digest should include:

  1. A discussion of legal questions implicated by codes of conduct, identifying sources that explore such legal questions in depth.
  2. Reviews of various codes of conduct and common features.
  3. Reviews of lawsuits that have challenged or resulted from enforcement of codes of conduct.
  4. Recommended language for agencies to use in written codes.
  5. Recommended strategies for effective administration, training, and enforcement.
  6. Case studies of several properties that have implemented codes of conduct.
  7. Discussion of potential pitfalls: what terms or practices to avoid if possible.

 

Research Implementation

 

This research will be conducted in four tasks pursuant to a firm fixed price agreement. The tasks will be as follows: 

Task 1. Research plan and detailed report outline. The consultant will conduct background research and collect relevant material. Based on the initial but complete review of the source material, consultant will propose a detailed report outline. The outline should be at least 8 to12 pages, include a proposed survey if one is to be used, and contain sufficient detail to inform the TCRP project panel of what a 75- to 100-page report will contain. This outline should also contain the estimated pagination for each proposed section and/or subsection. This material will be submitted to TCRP for consideration and approval. 

Task 2. After approval of the work plan, the consultant should conduct additional research, and case and statutory/regulatory analysis. 

Task 3. Draft report in accordance with the approved work plan (including modifications required by TCRP). 

Task 4. Revise report as necessary. The consultant should estimate that two revisions will be necessary. One revision may be required after review by the TCRP staff and members of a select subcommittee. Additional revisions may be required after the full committee has reviewed the report. 

Status: Research in Progress

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