Safety Hero

Safety Takes Front Seat for Transit Authority

Safety Hero – Jason Smith: Roaring Fork Transportation Authority

Jason Smith from Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
Amazing things are happening at Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. With the help from Jason Smith, CSD Pool’s latest Safety Hero, the district is thriving with a collaborative safety culture, new initiatives, and a safe future ahead.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) has been in operation since 1983 and functions as a Regional Transportation Authority. RFTA is the second largest transit system in Colorado, the largest rural transit system in the U.S., and the first rural transit agency to construct and operate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system.

“RFTA is not just a transit system,” Jason says, “It’s a lifeline connecting communities across a vast corridor from Aspen to Rifle. Our commitment goes beyond numbers; it’s about serving people and creating a safe transit experience.”

As the Safety and Training Manager, Jason collaborates with a dedicated team overseeing safety programs, developing policies, and conducting inspections.

“It’s truly a team effort, and the collective energy and commitment make safety a priority at every level of RFTA.”

Holistic Approach to Safety

With RFTA employing more than 380 employees during peak winter season, it’s clear how important Jason’s role really is. After completing his recent Certified Safety and Security Officer (CSSO) training, Jason emphasized why a company-wide approach to safety is the best way to go.

“The CSSO program reinforced the importance of a holistic, company-wide approach to safety. We aim to empower employees, fostering a culture where everyone feels responsible for safety practices within their roles,” Jason says.

The training has not only enriched Smith’s understanding but has contributed to shaping a safety culture that permeates every department and aspect of RFTA’s operations.

This includes new initiatives for RFTA to combat fatigue and help staff remain alert on the job.

“In our 24/7 operation, combating fatigue is critical,” Jason says. “The AlertMeter program, a recent addition, is about enhancing alertness and initiating conversations that prioritize safety over punitive measures.” The program also includes components such as having employees engage in a brief alertness game, creating a data-driven approach to manage fatigue effectively while fostering a culture of open communication.

Transforming Accident Investigations

Another point of focus for Jason and the district has been accident investigations.

“Empowering supervisors in accident investigations has transformed our safety culture,” Jason says. “They’re now at the forefront, understanding the nuances of accidents and responding proactively to potential issues.”

For Jason and his team, continuing to improve how accident investigations are conducted, specifically by focusing on the shift towards supervisors actively participating in analyzing accidents, remains the cornerstone of RFTA’s safety culture.

“This change has not only expedited the resolution process but has also resulted in a more proactive safety approach in addressing potential issues.”

Accreditation and Continuous Vigilance

With the enhanced safety culture at RFTA and CSSO training, they recently received a Three-Year Safety and Security Accreditation.

“Constant vigilance is key. We actively encourage employees at all levels to contribute to safety standards, creating a culture where adherence to safety protocols is everyone’s responsibility,” Jason says.

On top of all these accomplishments, Jason also oversees an Accident Review Committee to rule on the preventability of accidents. The committee serves as a crucial element in the peer review process, ensuring a comprehensive and fair evaluation of preventability decisions.

“The Accident Review Committee is about peer review and collaboration. It ensures a fair and thorough assessment of preventability decisions, involving those who understand the daily challenges on the frontlines.”

Future Outlook

Looking toward the future, Jason seeks to leverage data from the AlertMeter program to refine fatigue management strategies. He also reveals plans to explore advanced bus simulator technologies, aiming to enhance practical skills and preparedness for challenging scenarios, and utilize the CSD Pool’s safety resources.

“The CSD Pool has been instrumental in providing fresh perspectives and resources. Their expertise and guidance have strengthened our safety initiatives,” Jason says.

RFTA stands as a testament to the continuous efforts in ensuring a safe and secure transit experience for both employees and passengers. Jason Smith’s leadership underscores the importance of fostering a safety culture that permeates every aspect of RFTA’s operations, making it a model for transit agencies nationwide.

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