At last week’s meeting, the St. Mary’s County commissioners approved the proposed annual system safety plan for the county’s transit buses.
The transportation division of the department of public works and transportation provided a briefing of the updated safety plan to commissioners in compliance with the requirements of the Federal Transit Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation. The plan is subject to review and approved by commissioners prior to the annual submittal.
Although MDOT has always had a safety and security plan, this update is on a form designed for the locally owned transit systems. It includes safety performance targets established under the National Public Transportation Safety Plan and safety performance coordination, safety management policy and processes.
In addition to the annual review, reviews will be conducted during the evaluation of any safety recurrences and changes to state and federal regulations concerning system safety. The goal is to reduce safety targets by 10% on an annual basis, according to meeting documents.
John Deatrick, St. Mary’s director of public works and transportation, was in attendance at last Tuesday’s meeting to answer any questions commissioners had about the plan.
“For three years we’ve heard about this software [to track safety habits of the buses] and for two of those I’ve been talking about Verizon telematics which goes ahead and installs it to the buses and is a nominal cost for St. Mary’s County. We do not need to design software … to start being safe … there are fleets of police cruisers that have them in there,” Commissioner John O’Connor (R) said, adding, “We can track all that breaking, we can track speeds, we can track weights, some of them can even track if the air conditioning is on … there needs to be a conscious effort to move forward now.”
“I fully hear you and I reviewed what I hope is the final draft of the procurement. … I’ll certainly call Verizon directly so I can learn more about that and make sure they know that we are going to be bidding out a package,” Deatrick replied.
O’Connor said, “This is something that goes on our cellphone plan … this isn’t a bidding thing … AT&T also provides something for public safety. This is literally a cellphone platform that’s on 4G LTE that goes on the existing contract we have with Verizon. This isn’t a massive thing.”
“We may be able to piggyback off of that existing contract. I’ll check it out,” Deatrick told commissioners, before they unanimously approved the plan.