Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Closing Statement
November 8, 2011
Railroad Accident Report - Miami International Airport
Automated People Mover Train Collision with Passenger Terminal Wall
Miami, FL, November 28, 2008


I want to thank my fellow Board members for their participation today.

I would also like to recognize the efforts of the NTSB staff members who completed this accident investigation and developed this report, in particular, the staff from the Office of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Investigations and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Ruben Payan, the Investigator-in-Charge, and his team did an excellent job.

We have seen in this accident and other investigations that too often there is a lack of crucial safeguards. Johnson Controls did not have specific procedures to prohibit a train from operating with a disabled vital backup safety system.

The Miami/Dade Aviation Department did not evaluate the safety risks inherent in the Miami International Airport's people mover system, much less develop methods to manage and minimize those risks. Then, at a higher level, the state did not oversee the safety of this fixed-guideway system. Finally, at the federal government level, no agency has authority for the safety oversight of fixed-guideway or transit operations, despite the contribution of federal funds to many of these transportation systems.

The Miami accident we discussed today was not an isolated event. As I mentioned, in recent years there were fatal fixed-guideway accidents at the Walt Disney World Resort and at Houston's Intercontinental Airport. And, with aging equipment and infrastructure, it is even more important to have external oversight. This is why we recommend - again - that there be stronger and more consistent state and federal safety oversight. As in past investigations on transit properties, there is an absence of effective oversight. We support the establishment of Federal safety standards for these systems and Federal assistance in hiring and training state oversight personnel. If states choose not to participate or where the state program lacks the necessary enforcement tools, the Federal Transit Administration could ensure compliance.

Transit is a growing and increasingly important mode of transportation in our country. It deserves - and needs - the same protections as other forms of transportation. The recommendations we issue today offer the opportunity to do just that.

We stand adjourned.