Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

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


Good morning. Welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Debbie Hersman, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Joining me are my fellow Board members: Vice Chairman Chris Hart, Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Mark Rosekind, and Member Earl Weener.

Today, we meet in open session, as required by the Government in the Sunshine Act, to consider the November 28, 2008, accident at Miami International Airport. An automated people mover, a type of fixed-guideway transportation system, failed to stop as it approached its destination and ran into a wall at the end of the guideway. Six people were injured.

While automated people mover systems are used predominantly at airports, these electric-powered, driverless vehicles are also used in urban settings, such as in downtown Detroit and Las Vegas, and at many large amusement parks. The people mover ridership at Miami's Concourse E averages about 9,000 passengers per day.

Last week, the NTSB released its report concerning a 2009 collision of two monorail trains on a fixed-guideway system within Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. An operator on one of the trains was fatally injured. The investigation concluded that an employee's failure to properly position and a manager's failure to verify the position of the switch caused the accident. In essence, our investigation found a lack of standard procedures to protect train movements and prevent collisions. However, we commend Disney for its initiative and follow through in taking numerous steps to address the operational and performance deficiencies identified in the investigation.

In a 2010 people mover accident - one maintenance worker was killed and another injured at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. That people mover was also operated by Johnson Controls, the operator of the accident train that we are discussing today. In Houston, OSHA fined Johnson Controls for failing to develop procedures that would protect track workers.

Three years. Three fixed-guideway accidents. Two fatalities. It is apparent that external safety oversight of public transportation systems would have helped to identify and correct systemic safety risks. In many cases these deficiencies may not be readily apparent or may not be effectively addressed by the operator.

Today, we will hear what our investigation revealed in the Miami International Airport collision and consider recommendations to improve the oversight of these operators that move thousands of passengers every day.

Dr. Mayer, will you please introduce the staff.