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DOT anticipates 400 reports annually of ‘close calls’ from Washington transit authority employees

A WMATA transit accident
occurred in June 2009

The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to set up a program under which it would expect to receive approximately 400 confidential reports each year from employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority about “close calls” or other unsafe occurrences that take place on Washington’s transit system.

The program would be co-sponsored by the transit authority’s deputy general manager of operations and the president/business manager of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 689. “It is designed to identify safety issues and proposed corrective actions based on voluntary reports of close calls submitted confidentially to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), U.S. Department of Transportation,” explains a Federal Register notice published on Nov. 5.

A “close call” is a situation that had the potential for safety consequences, but did not result in an adverse safety event, says the notice.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which estimates that it would receive about 400 such close call reports per year, would collect reports from transit authority employees, conduct employee interviews, develop an analytical database and provide a statistical analysis to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or WMATA.

“Participants will be asked to provide information such as: (1) Name and contact information; (2) time and location of the event; (3) a short description of the event; (4) contributing factors to the close call; and (5) any other information that might be useful in determining a root cause of such event,” says the notice.

The public can comment on this proposed information-gathering request until Jan. 4, 2013 by visiting and citing docket number RITA-2008-0002.

Further information is available from Demetra Collia, of the DOT’s bureau of transportation statistics, at 202-366-1610 or