Posts Tagged ‘Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act’

D.C. legislative update: More support for legislative priorities

Two legislative priorities gained support in early October.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas (Dist. 30) is the latest legislator to sign up to support H.R. 6016 — the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act, which was introduced over the summer.

The bill requires transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents, and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.

It has gained 50 Democratic and three Republican co-sponsors since its June introduction by U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (Dist. 32 – Calif.) in the U.S. House. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 3215) has two Democratic co-sponsors.

S. 2360 — The Safe Freight Act requiring a minimum of two-person crews on freight trains in the United States — also gained a new co-sponsor in early October in Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

The addition of Merkley brings the total number of co-sponsors of the bill, which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota early this year, to 13. All of the co-sponsors are Democrats with the exception of independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine.

The House version of the Safe Freight Act (H.R. 233), which was introduced by Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, has 119 bipartisan co-sponsors at last count.

The Railroad Yardmaster Protection Act (H.R. 3148), introduced by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D) of Minnesota, gained a pair of new co-sponsors in late September, with Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill. – Dist. 13) and Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn. – Dist. 7) signing on to sponsor the bill. That bill now has 23 bipartisan cosponsors.

As the November election approaches, the SMART TD Legislative Action Center allows you to find out who represents you and what their voting records are for the issues that are important to our membership to help you make an informed decision.

Candidate endorsements will appear in the October edition of the SMART Transportation Division News.

Senator introduces companion bill to House’s Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, introduced S.3215 on July 16, a companion bill to the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act.

In June, Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – Calif.) and Congressman John Katko (R — N.Y.) introduced the original bill, H.R.6016, that would enhance the safety of bus drivers nationwide.

“Ensuring a safe work environment for transit operators is crucial to improving our transportation system for both passengers and employees,” Van Hollen said. “This legislation makes a long overdue push to improve safety conditions for these men and women — and invests the resources to make it happen.”

Immediately upon the legislation’s introduction, SMART Transportation Division leaders announced their support for the bill, and they also support Van Hollen’s bill.

“There have been gruesome, inexcusable acts that have been committed on our bus members including shootings, stabbings and beatings, and little has been done about it. We need adequate driver shields and mandatory de-escalation training,” said National Legislative Director John Risch. “Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure all bus operators are given the protection they deserve.”

Countless news reports of incidents involving spitting, beatings and stabbings by unruly passengers have left SMART TD bus drivers as victims of frequent violence. A college student critically injured in a stabbing April 9 while he rode on a bus owned by Montebello Bus Lines (MBL), whose workers are represented by Local 1701, died in June of his injury.

“Every day we hear major news stories of bus drivers being beaten, having items thrown at them, spitted upon, and verbally abused. LA Metro, for instance, which operates in my district experiences approximately 130 assaults on bus drivers per year,” Napolitano said in a news release. “This is an unthinkable experience for drivers, and it also has major safety impacts on passengers, motorists and pedestrians, as these assaults often occur while the bus is moving.”

Both the House and Senate legislation require transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.

“There is no higher priority than operator safety. On a daily basis, we see reports of drivers getting assaulted and having their lives irreversibly changed because they were behind the controls just doing their jobs,” said SMART TD Bus Department Vice President Calvin Studivant. “This critical legislation will significantly improve bus driver safety through risk reduction programs and other safety requirements.”

The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act and its Senate companion bill continue to build on SMART TD’s efforts to protect bus drivers and eliminate operator assaults, but the effort of members is needed to get political leaders to support the legislation via the Legislative Action Center.

H.R. 6016 as of July 24 had 36 cosponsors — two Republicans and 34 Democrats. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

S.3215 has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and co-sponsors are being sought.

SMART TD leaders endorse bus safety bill

Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2018) – SMART Transportation Division leaders announced today their support for the Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act introduced by Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (D – Calif.) and Congressman John Katko (R — New York) that would enhance the safety of bus drivers nationwide.

Incidents of assaults on bus operators occur daily and threaten the safety of both our members and the riding public. Countless news reports of incidents involving spitting, beatings and stabbings by unruly passengers have left SMART-TD bus drivers as victims of frequent violence.

​A stabbing on a bus in Montebello Calif., is just one example.

“There have been gruesome, inexcusable acts that have been committed on our bus members including shootings, stabbings and beatings, and little has been done about it. We need adequate driver shields and mandatory de-escalation training,” said National Legislative Director John Risch. “I want to thank Representatives Napolitano and Katko for developing and introducing this important piece of legislation. Our pledge is to continue to work with Congress and the Administration to ensure all bus operators are given the protection they deserve.”

The legislation would require transit agencies to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs by implementing physical barriers to prevent operator assaults, de-escalation training for bus drivers, driver-assisted technology to reduce accidents, and modified bus specifications or retrofits to reduce visibility impairments.

“There is no higher priority than operator safety. On a daily basis, we see reports of drivers getting assaulted and having their lives irreversibly changed because they were behind the controls just doing their jobs,” said Calvin Studivant, SMART TD Bus Department Vice President. “This critical legislation will significantly improve bus driver safety through risk reduction programs and other safety requirements.”

In 2015 SMART TD supported passage of the FAST Act, which required that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issue rules designed to prevent assaults on transit workers, so far FTA has neither released nor implemented these rules. The Bus Operator and Pedestrian Protection Act continues to build on SMART TD’s efforts to protect bus drivers and eliminate operator assaults.

The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry, including bus operators.