Metro station
Courtesy of

The Federal Transit Administration issued a nationwide directive Tuesday for transit systems to reduce stop signal overruns.

According to the 12-page order, the FTA would require each system to conduct a safety risk evaluation and analyze their effectiveness, evaluate its operational activities to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of those mitigations and develop a corrective action plan as necessary.

Locally, the federal agency ordered Metro in August to properly teach its train operators to stop overrunning red signals. The FTA stated train operators have come within seconds of striking passenger trains or workers, including a July incident on the Red Line near the Glenmont station in Silver Spring.

A timeline from the Federal Transit Administration directive issued Jan. 17 to lessen stop signal overruns is seen here. The Rail Fixed Guideway Public Transportation System represents Metro and other transit systems. (Courtesy of FTA)

“Ensuring trains only operate where they have permission is a fundamental way to protect the safety of rail transit passengers, operators and other workers,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “While rail transit is the safest mode of surface transportation, focus on improving stop signal safety should be a top priority for everyone who is responsible for the safety of transit operations.”

The document mentions transit systems have “inconsistencies” in the definition of stop signal overruns, so FTA offered eight definitions.

For instance, stop signal overrun for the FTA means “a revenue or non-revenue rail transit vehicle passing any signal displaying a visual aspect that indicates to an operator that a train does not have authority to proceed.”

All transit systems are asked to complete its own safety analysis that include any stop signal overruns that occurred in the last three years.

FTA also asks each system to provide information including the visibility of signals for train operators, a required action the federal agency asked Metro to identify last year.

All transit systems are asked to review and evaluate its safety activities within 90 days of Monday’s directive.

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