FTA Safety Management Inspection

Immediate Action Letter from Board Chair, Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr. and CEO/General Manager Leslie S. Richards

To our SEPTA community,

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has released the results of a Safety Management Inspection (SMI) of SEPTA that was conducted between August 2023 and January 2024. The FTA, which has federal oversight over SEPTA’s transit operations, initiated this detailed inspection of the Authority’s safety protocols, practices and processes following incidents that occurred on SEPTA’s bus and rail transit (Metro) systems.

At the time, the SEPTA Board and leadership promised our customers and employees a swift and transparent response and full cooperation with the FTA’s investigation. This webpage continues that commitment.

In all, the FTA requested and reviewed over 1,500 documents from SEPTA and PennDOT and conducted over 150 interviews, including SEPTA executive and technical leadership, mid-level management, supervisors, and frontline transit workers, as facilitated by union leadership, and with PennDOT representatives.

As an organization, we have taken a number of initial actions that directly address areas raised in the SMI report, and we are developing a series of corrective action plans (CAPs) to respond to the FTA’s formal directives. This page will update the public on our progress in response to each directive, and we encourage you to visit regularly to learn more about these efforts and how we are doing.

The safety and security of customers and employees is SEPTA’s top priority. We take these findings seriously and embrace the opportunity to work with the FTA and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to make SEPTA better. Safety is not a one-time initiative – it requires 24/7 vigilance, communication and collaboration. That is the culture we are building at SEPTA, and customers play an important role, as well. Please download and use the SEPTA Watch App and continue to share your thoughts and observations as you ride SEPTA.

Sincerely,

Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr. Board Chair Signature

Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr.
Board Chair              

Leslie S. Richards CEO/General Manager Signature

Leslie S. Richards
CEO and General Manager


Safety Management Inspection (SMI)

The FTA informed SEPTA in August of last year that it would conduct a detailed inspection of the Authority’s safety protocols, practices and processes following incidents that occurred on SEPTA’s bus and rail transit (Metro) systems over the past few years. The FTA has federal oversight over SEPTA’s transit operations.

“The SMI found that SEPTA has an experienced and committed leadership team that has taken steps to support safety improvements.” (Safety Management Inspection, SEPTA/PennDOT)

FTA representatives were on site at SEPTA locations conducting inspections and interviews with employees between September 2023 and January 2024. The SMI report outlines findings and required actions for SEPTA to take, with most focused on three general areas: transit worker safety, System Safety and Control Center staffing and training, and bus and rail operational practices and policies.

Read the FTA’s SMI Report


SEPTA’s Actions

SEPTA’s efforts to enhance safety and security were underway before the FTA initiated the SMI process. Beginning last August, SEPTA conducted high-intensity safety trainings to every one of our 9,000 employees (beginning with frontline employees then moving across our entire workforce), reinforcing their understanding of our policies and procedures. At the same time, intensive hiring of Transit Police Officers and more strategic deployment of personnel has yielded critical improvements to personal safety, with serious crimes on the system dropping 37% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

Completed

  • Hired an additional 30 Transit Police officers since last fall, while hiring continues
  • Serious crimes on the system dropped 37% in the first half of this year
  • SEPTA Transit Police are actively partnering with Philadelphia Police and other law enforcement to increase the overall presence of uniformed police officers on the system
  • Reinstated the use of Code Violation Notices (CVNs) for quality-of-life violations – including alcohol consumption, smoking and littering – as part of an effort to discourage incidents, focus on repeat offenders, and enhance the customer experience
  • Developed a Virtual Patrol Unit that monitors live security camera feeds throughout the system and dispatches officers
  • Established SCOPE – a first-in-the-nation program that connects unsheltered and vulnerable individuals on SEPTA to resources while also supporting station cleaning and overall quality-of-life on the system
  • Activated audio on surveillance cameras at the front of buses to capture evidence of threats targeting our operators
  • Updated onboard fare collection policy to protect operator safety

In Progress

  • Leading support for legislation to increasing criminal penalties for those who assault operators and other employees – similar to protections for U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Piloting new bus operator enclosures
  • Testing ballistic protection for enclosures

Completed

  • Hired new Deputy Transformation Officer for Safety Culture
  • Conducted high-intensity safety trainings to every one of our 9,000 employees (beginning with frontline employees then moving across our entire workforce), reinforcing their understanding of our policies and procedures

In Progress

  • Continuing to recruit and hire to fill vacancies in frontline positions, and increasing our HR staffing to facilitate that hiring
  • Increasing staffing in the System Safety Division
  • Evaluating Control Center staffing needs
  • Developing new trainings on safety protocols

Completed

  • Created an Accident Reduction Coordination (ARC) Team

In Progress

  • Implementing Computer Aided Radio Dispatch (CARD) system replacement project that will upgrade Operations and Transit Police radio communications
  • Conducting a full review of Standard Operating Procedure documents
  • Evaluating policies and practices for hours of service

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About the FTA’s Inspection and Report

The FTA completed a Safety Management Inspection of SEPTA from August 10, 2023 – January 30, 2024. During that time, the FTA:

  • Requested and reviewed documents
  • Hosted a series of virtual interviews
  • Conducted three weeks of on-site inspections at SEPTA rail transit facilities
  • Engaged in extensive follow-up to identify areas of improvement to ensure the continued safety of our passengers, workers, and system infrastructure

The FTA has released their SMI report, which covers all rail transit and safety disciplines. The report includes a review of rail transit operations, training, vehicle maintenance, signals and train control, and track access. It also covers capital project delivery, traction power, facilities, and safety management.

SEPTA will update this webpage to inform the public on our progress in response to each FTA directive. Visit regularly to learn more about these efforts and track our progress.