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NYS PTSB’s Don Baker visits the PCAC

PCAC Chair Ira Greenberg (L) listens to Donald Baker, Executive Director of New York State's Public Transportation Safety Board
PCAC Chair Ira Greenberg (L) listens to Donald Baker, Executive Director of New York State’s Public Transportation Safety Board

At the PCAC quarterly meeting on June 3rd, Donald Baker, Executive Director of New York State Public Transportation Safety Board (PTSB), discussed the work of the PTSB and its role in ensuring safety to the public.  The Board consists of eight members.

The PTSB was created in 1984 as a result of a tragic LIRR at-grade crossing accident (known as Herricks Road).  It was the first board of its kind in the nation.  The PTSB is responsible for the safety oversight of public transportation systems throughout New York State that receive State transit operating assistance (STOA).  Its mission is to reduce the number, rate and severity of public transportation accidents.

The PTSB conducts investigations of accidents and failures to comply with regulations.  The five-member staff (two for bus and three for rail) work closely with the MTA on accident investigations.  Mr. Baker indicated that investigations can take as long as six months to conclude and the final report must be approved by the Board before it is made available to the public.  A negative finding could result in various actions against the agency, including mandated operational changes or more severely, withholding of STOA dollars until issues are resolved.

In addition to accident investigations, the Board also carries out special studies such as Tunnel Ventilation, involving the improvements to vent fans on NYC Transit, and Mitigating the “Gap”, solving the closure of the gap between the platform edge and the train car.  There is also a program for training investigators known as BAITFISH: Bus Accident Investigation Training For Identifying Safety Hazards.

Mr. Baker concluded his remarks by stating that, ” We would welcome input from the public.” Reports and investigations are accessible to the public either on the website or by calling their office.  Board meetings can be seen by the public via webcast.  Click here for the full presentation.

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