Safety Effectiveness Evaluation of Rail Rapid Transit Safety

On July 28 and 29,1980, the National Transportation Safety Board held a public hearing on rail rapid transit safety. Twenty-five witnesses testified during the hearing on fire safety issues, emergency evacuation from rail rapid transit systems and safety oversight of transit systems. The Safety Board examined fire safety issues involving transit car design; emergency exit from cars; emergency tunnel ventilation; evacuation from tunnels; emergency procedures including training, drilling, and testing; emergency communications, equipment, and mobility; and local/state/Federal safety oversight of rail rapid transit properties.

The safety Board issued urgent recommendations to the Urban Mass Transportation Administration for a survey of rail rapid transit systems to determine their capability for evacuation of passengers under various operational and passenger load conditions and to establish Federal guidelines for the elimination of minimization of combustible and toxic gas and smoke-generating materials in existing rail rapid transit cars. The Safety Board futher recommended that the Secretary of Transportation propose  Federal legislation which would explicitly authorize the establishment of safety standards for rail rapid transit systems. Other recommendations seek Federal guidelines for car and tunnel designs, safety equipment, and training; the need for 5-year safety and research and development plans; a fire research and testing program; a study of the need for fire suppression systems; and improved training for tunnel rescue efforts for employees and emergency personnel.