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Audit Determines Metro Buses Safe, Safety Improvements Still Needed


king county metro, king county, metro,While riding a King County Metro bus remains one of the safest ways to get around the county, additional training, more in-depth analysis of transit incidents, and changes to scheduling could improve safety, a new report from the King County Auditor’s Office found.

The new report, presented Tuesday to the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, found that since 2018 Metro buses traveled more than 200 million miles with 104 preventable incidents resulting in an injury.


Key findings and recommendations include:

  • Metro Transit could have a more proactive response to preventing and responding to collisions and injuries in line with recent federal guidance. Currently, Metro Transit has a system that responds to collisions, but the approach focuses resources on the actions of operators in collisions that have already happened. The Federal Transit Administration is encouraging agencies to think more broadly about safety, and the audit reported that Metro is taking lessons learned from service changes and traffic conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic to reconsider how agency-level policy decisions may affect safety by competing with operator focus on safe driving. For example, Metro Transit indicated that the department is considering reducing the focus on schedules and instead focusing on frequency of service. This could reduce collisions by reducing the pressure operators feel to maintain a fixed schedule.
  • Metro Transit provides continuing education and post-incident training to operators but does not require regular refresher training on basic skills and safety expectations: The report found that this reactive model of training can also create a perception among some operators that training is a form of punishment. More regular re-training could reduce this stigma and prevent future collisions and injuries.
  • Expanding its analysis to include all incidents could help Metro Transit identify additional ways to prevent collisions: The FTA encourages transit agencies to move from reactive systems, highly focused on serious incidents, to more proactive safety management systems that analyze and respond to less serious events and near misses. Metro Transit’s leadership indicated that the department would like to move toward this broader vision of safety.
  • Metro Transit could improve safety by expanding the information it uses in its analysis: Metro Transit does not currently include information like passenger complaints or operator traffic tickets in its safety analysis as this information is not available to the Safety and Security Division. Additionally, data related to operator fatigue, such as time of last rest break prior to an incident or whether the operator had recently worked overtime, is not available for analysis. Providing access to this data could improve the quality of analysis and the safety of the system overall.

Read the full audit report here

The above is a press release from King County Metro.  The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content. 

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