National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. – The National Transportation Safety Board today announced that it will convene a two-day public hearing in St. Louis in March to discuss the safety of the nation's transit bus systems.
The hearing will convene at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 3, 1998, at the Adam's Mark Hotel, Fourth & Chestnut Streets, St. Louis, Missouri 63102. NTSB Member John Hammerschmidt will chair the hearing.
The Safety Board's hearing is an outgrowth of its investigation of a fatal crash in Normandy, Missouri on June 11, 1997, involving a transit bus operated by Bi-State Development Agency. In that crash, while the driver attempted to move the transit bus forward to allow another bus at the depot to pass by, the bus jumped the sidewalk, killing 4 pedestrians. The hearing will not focus on that crash or on Bi-State, per se, but on issues that were raised by that investigation.
It is the Board's tentative plan to issue a final report on that crash at its February 24 meeting in Washington. Information gathered at the St. Louis hearing will be used in the Board's special investigation of transit bus systems, which it expects to issue by the end of the year.
The Board learned during its investigation that many transit bus operations are exempted from significant federal safety oversight. In addition, many states do not provide safety oversight of transit bus systems beyond that of infrequent roadside inspections. It appears to the NTSB that uniform practices for the systemic safety oversight in areas such as driver qualification and training, driver hours of service, bus maintenance, and maintenance training do not exist in the transit bus industry.
The Federal Transit Administration, which distributes federal transit funds without mandating safety standards, reported that in 1995 there were 41,297 injuries and 82 fatalities in the transit bus industry. Differences in accident reporting systems, however, make it very difficult to compare fatality and injury rates in the transit bus industry with rates for other modes of transportation.
"Transit buses carry more than 2 million Americans every day, and the Safety Board is exploring whether there is adequate safety oversight of this major transportation industry," Member Hammerschmidt said. "This hearing will provide valuable information for the Safety Board in formulating its report on transit bus safety."
Parties to the hearing, who will have the opportunity to question witnesses, are the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the American Public Transit Association, the Community Transportation Association of America, the National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, and the Amalgamated Transit Union.
The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating major transportation accidents and formulating safety recommendations aimed at improving transportation safety. Safety recommendations may be issued at any time.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.