TriMet takes allegations concerning safety seriously; agency fact checks KATU report

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TriMet’s number one value is safety

At TriMet, we value your safety and the safety of our system. Every decision made is with safety as the number one focus. We provide nearly 320,000 trips each weekday getting riders safely where they need to go. That is why we are deeply disappointed in the report by KATU News that includes false claims about TriMet’s safety and security.

Fact Check

Claim: “Safety has dropped off in the background as far as safety meetings, shift meetings, certification for forklift drivers”.

Fact: Safety meetings are held and TriMet has a formal process for any safety concern to be raised by any employee.

TriMet has a safety committee that meets monthly with all maintenance facilities. Any safety concern brought forward at these meetings is reviewed with the committee and TriMet managers, and is resolved.

Aside from safety committee meetings, garage supervisors hold monthly crew safety meetings for each shift of workers.

Our maintenance shifts also start with meetings in which any safety or other concern can be raised and addressed.

TriMet also has a Request for Safety Assessment process in which employees raise concerns. Any concern raised through this process is also reviewed and the matter resolved.

Any safety issues brought up that need further analysis are noted, and are tracked through the safety committees until the concern is addressed.

A concern about forklift training and operation was raised and is being actively addressed.

 

Claim: “The floors on some of the buses are rotten,” he said. “We have issues that have to do with wheelchair restraints. We have issues to do with mirrors that the drivers use to drive with.”

Fact: The majority of TriMet buses do have wooden floors, as is standard on buses built before 2008. Over time, repairs have to be made. The floors are inspected on a daily basis by multiple personnel. If any issue is identified during these inspections, it is noted and the bus is sent in for further inspection and necessary repairs are made. There has never been a safety incident that resulted in a rider or operator being injured from a “rotten” floor.

Mobility device restraints are inspected on a nightly basis. If an issue is found, the bus is held until that restraint is repaired. This is not just TriMet procedure but required by law. Per ADA regulations, working restraints are required.

Operators are required to inspect mirrors before beginning their route. Any issue found that affects the safe operation of the bus is to be immediately reported and must be corrected before it leaves the bus yard. If an issue occurs while the bus is in service, it also must be immediately reported and staff will be sent to meet the bus on route and make any necessary repairs.

TriMet is investing in our bus fleet and have purchased more than 125 new buses since 2012. We will be adding another 90 new buses by year-end. With the new buses comes new equipment as well as more durable composite floors.

 

Claim: The mechanic also believes the maintenance of surveillance cameras on buses has fallen behind. He says three of the positions responsible for maintaining bus camera systems have gone unfilled for three years.

Fact: TriMet maintains and inspects the surveillance camera system on our buses regularly – both by on board system checks and maintenance service personnel. We have built-in equipment that monitors the “health” of the surveillance system. If a defect or malfunction occurs, the health monitor will note an issue. Service workers check the health monitor on a nightly basis. If they find that an issue has occurred, a work order is created for a technician to evaluate and correct. Most frequently, the issue is dealt with before the bus goes out into service next. Any issue is dealt with within 24 hours.

In addition to the built-in health monitoring, electronic technicians also do hands-on inspections of the surveillance system and perform preventive maintenance every 12,000 miles or about every two to three months. This includes checking that the display, data pack and recorder working.

 

Claim: “Now, the TSA says the information was TriMet’s to give out all along, and it says it’s working with TriMet to see if it can release the records KATU wants with the sensitive information cut out. The On Your Side Investigators are hoping to get that information soon, possibly by the end of the week.”

Fact: Under federal law, TriMet is prohibited from disclosing records that are Sensitive Security Information (SSI) to unauthorized persons. TriMet received confirmation from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that concluded that the records were SSI and TriMet could not release them. The Multnomah County District Attorney subsequently denied KATU’s petition for release of the records based on TSA’s finding that the records were SSI.

 

Claim: “KATU asked TriMet about his claims and so far it has not responded.”

Fact: TriMet takes any claims made about our system’s safety and security very seriously. We did not receive any inquiry from KATU about these claims. When a TriMet spokeswoman contacted the reporter this morning about this false statement, he realized he had misspelled her email address. Since the reporter did not follow up with a phone call or attempted to reach other TriMet media relations staff, we had no knowledge of his inquiry.

 

TriMet values safety, security and transparency

TriMet values the safety and security of all our employees, customers and the public at large. We also remain transparent in providing records to the public, including the media, when we are able to release such documents. When records are security sensitive we cannot, under federal law, release those. TriMet is working with the TSA for a more thorough review and analysis of the security camera records KATU has requested to see what can be released.