The National Academies

TCRP Synthesis J-07/Topic SA-51 [Active (Synthesis)]

Transit Safety Risk Assessment Methodologies

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: TTI
Principal Investigator: Joan Hudson
Effective Date: 9/16/2020
Fiscal Year: 2020

Final Scope


The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) published a final rule for Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans under 49 CFR 673.  This final rule requires States and certain operators of public transportation systems that receive Federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 to develop Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans based on the Safety Management System approach. Operators of public transportation systems will be required to implement the safety plans. The development and implementation of safety plans will help ensure that public transportation systems are safe nationwide.

The adoption of a Safety Management Systems (SMS) foundational approach across all new safety rules, regulations and accompanying technical guidance documents calls for a need to research current and new innovative state-of-the-practice methodologies for developing robust and consistent safety risk assessment methodologies for improving transit industry safety ( See 49 CFR 673).  While the industry has relied on the Military Standard 882 frequency versus severity risk matrix approach, there are others methodologies - such as exposure rate models and the European-based Common Safety Method - that warrant consideration.


This synthesis will identify what safety risk assessment methodologies and/or approaches US transit (bus and/or rail) systems are using for safety risk assessment methodologies.  Information to be gathered will include:

·  US transit system safety risk assessment methodologies and approaches;

·  Other US transportation modes safety risk assessment methodologies (outside transit);

·  International samples of transit and rail with performance based safety risk assessment methodologies;

·  Applicability and scalability; and

·  Implementation costs.


Information will be gathered by:

·       a literature review (e.g. agency reports, peer reviewed journal articles, web articles);

·       a survey on a broad range of North American transit agencies (diverse in terms of geography, socioeconomics, size, and all types of vehicles in transit revenue service); and,

·       case examples (shall include an international, and a bus only) that will gather information on the practices, challenges and successes.  Case studies would be used to present the applicability and effectiveness of the methodologies. Case studies will be presented in a consistent analytical framework.

 The needs for future research should also be discussed.


Information Sources:

• Military Standard 882: https://www.system-safety.org/Documents/MIL-STD-882E.pdf

• European Common Safety Method



     TRB Staff 
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361   
Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 16, 2020 
Teleconference with Consultant: October
19, 2020
Second Panel: June 2, 2020

Topic Panel

           David Bagley, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

           Tellis Chandler, LYNX

           Thomas Cornillie, independent

           Mark Donaghy, Greater Dayton RTA

           Richard Gerhart, No Organization

           David Harris, New Mexico Department of Transportation

           Harold Levitt, Retired from PANYNJ

           Juan Morrison, Houston METRO

           Joyce Rose, WSP


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