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Napolitano, Van Hollen, Katko Introduce Legislation to Protect Transit Workers and Pedestrians

February 11, 2019
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, U.S. Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32), U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24) introduced the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 1139).

“Assaults on transit workers, whether physical or verbal, cannot be tolerated, and we must do all we can to put an end to them,” said Rep. Napolitano. “Such attacks, which have become too commonplace in LA County and throughout the country, harm and disrespect these workers, and they also threaten the well-being of passengers on board, motorists, and pedestrians. Our legislation aims to prevent assaults, further increase public safety by eliminating dangerous and unnecessary blind spots, and provide additional upgrades to the transportation systems in our communities. Transit workers take very seriously their jobs to ensure our safety; it is time we prioritize theirs.”

“The men and women who work as transit operators across our county deserve a safe work environment – but far too often, that is not guaranteed. This legislation will lay out the changes needed to make this a reality and put a down payment on making it happen. It will improve our transportation systems for both passengers and employees,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“The bipartisan legislation addresses some of the major safety issues facing bus operations in Central New York and nationwide.  When drivers encounter hazardous situations, pedestrians and all travelers on the roadway are put in danger,” said Rep. Katko. “Many of these assaults and risks are avoidable, and this measure takes steps to prioritize the well-being of bus drivers and pedestrians, as well as all travelers utilizing our nation’s transportation systems.”

“Verbal abuse, knife-wielding passengers, dangerous bus driver blind spots, and unhealthy work environments have unfortunately become a routine part of the job for transit workers. This is threatening not only the health and safety of transit workers, but endangering riders, pedestrians and everyone else on our streets,” said Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President Larry Hanley. “The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act is commonsense legislation that will ensure transit workers and riders will be safer, and our transit systems will operate more efficiently. We applaud Representatives Napolitano and Katko in the House and Senator Van Hollen in the Senate for sponsoring this important bill and urge all members to support this bill for the safety of our country and the transit systems millions rely on each day to get to work, school, and medical appointments.”

The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act gives transit agencies two years to develop Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs in partnership with their transit workforce, and with oversight from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The bill authorizes $25 million per year for 5 years to pay for the implementation of these safety improvements as part of their Bus Operations Safety Risk Reduction Programs:

  • Assault mitigation infrastructure and technology, including barriers to prevent assault on bus drivers
  • De-escalation training for bus drivers
  • Modified bus specifications and retrofits to reduce visibility impairments
  • Driver assistance technology that reduces accidents
  • Installation of bus driver seating to reduce ergonomic injuries

It also gives transit agencies two years to develop Rail Operations Worker Assault Risk Reduction Programs, by doing the following:

  • Conduct a risk analysis of assaults on rail workers, including operators and station personnel
  • Develop the plans in cooperation with their labor representatives
  • Include an implementation plan for rail worker assault mitigation

This legislation will also require transit agencies to report all assaults on transit workers to the U.S. DOT’s National Transit Database (NTD). It is supported by the ATU, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART), Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, and Teamsters.

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