This past October, the safety policies of Bay Area Rapid Transit came into question after two workers were struck by a train that was traveling down the tracks. The scrutiny was applied to something called simple approval, a process that requires employees on the tracks to take safety into their own hands, looking down the tracks to determine if there are incoming trains. No type of alert system is used to signal those workers.
On the heels of that tragedy, the National Transportation Safety Board has come out with new recommendations that they believe could help ensure safety in the future. These recommendations, which have been deemed urgent, are being made to the Federal Transit Administration so that incidents like the one described above won’t happen again.
The Chairwoman of the NTSB has sent the head of the FTA a letter outlining how the agency should immediately communicate to various transit agencies around the county the need for the installation of redundant protection. That would begin by eliminating all policies that ask workers to simply try to spot trains without any additional protections.
Those additional protections could take a number of forms. Drivers could be alerted to worker presence and then be required to slow down or halt their progress entirely until the track is cleared. Work may itself not be conducted unless a shunt sending a stop signal to incoming trains is installed.
Hopefully, these redundant protections will soon become mandatory everywhere.