FTA issues proposed directive concerning transit worker safety

Dec. 20, 2023
The directive would require transit agencies to assess risks to workers and develop strategies to monitor and combat those risks.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has opened a comment period for its proposed general directive to address safety risk related to assaults on transit workers. Stakeholders have until Feb. 20 to submit comments.

Under the directive, each transit entity subject to FTA's Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASP) regulation would be required to conduct a safety risk assessment, identify safety risk mitigations or strategies. This information would need to be shared with FTA within 60 days of issuance of the final General Directive. For transit agencies serving a large, urbanized area, a safety committee, made up of equal parts management and transit labor representatives, is ultimately responsible for identifying and recommending these safety risk mitigations.

FTA says the number of assaults on transit workers is at an “unacceptable level”, with data from the National Transit Database (NTD) finding an average of 241 assaults, or major events, on transit workers between 2008 and 2021. A major event as defined in the NTD is an unlawful attack by one person upon another or homicide where a transit worker received immediate medical attention away from the scene or died within 30 days of the event.

An analysis of transit worker assaults by the Urban Institute found these major events tripled between 2008 and 2022 but the author of the analysis notes the reporting threshold is high and represents and undercount of the true number of assaults transit workers have experienced.

FTA recognizes this in the proposed General Directive and explains the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act expanded the data FTA will collect through NTD on assaults on transit workers.

“Each day, transit workers nationwide are responsible for moving millions of Americans to their jobs, schools and other daily activities and we must ensure their safety remains a top priority,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “This proposed General Directive is part of FTA’s ongoing comprehensive efforts to improve transit worker safety.” 

The Transport Workers Union called the proposed general directive a “positive development,” and encouraged FTA to issue a final directive “that protects every transit worker across the country from assault.”

The proposed General Directive was published in the Dec. 20, 2023, edition of the Federal Register and comments will be open until Feb. 20, 2024.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.