Commitment To Safety

Safety is the top priority for APTA and the commuter rail operators. It’s not simply a value we all share; safety is a core operating principle and a promise to our riders. That’s why we are committed to staying at the forefront of rider safety by implementing PTC and making commuter rail even safer.


Even without PTC fully implemented, commuter rail is among the safest form of transportation. Traveling by commuter and intercity rail is 18 times safer than traveling by auto. Between 2000 and 2017, commuter rail safely operated 8.2 billion trips and 194 billion passenger miles.

We are incredibly proud of the outstanding safety record and our dedication to the safety of riders, operators, and the communities we connect.


PTC is only the latest effort to make commuter rail even safer.


There is a long-standing industry requirement to conduct a safety inspection even before the rail vehicle departs.  This includes a thorough inspection by the operator inside the cab and the vehicle, and an external vehicle inspection with a brake system functional check. It is also an industry requirement that a supervisor conduct spot checks to ensure an effective pre-trip safety inspection. Another example of our focus on rail safety is our long-standing participation in Operation Lifesaver, an organization that promotes driver and pedestrian safety near train tracks.


Our Commitment To Safety


PTC is only the latest example of commuter rail’s commitment to safety – it’s embedded in nearly everything we do. Already among the safest form of transportation, the commuter rail industry is continuously working to develop and implement new measures to keep riders and communities safe.


Here are just a few of the measures the industry has taken to make commuter rail safe.

  • Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS)We worked with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to develop a voluntary reporting program that allows railroad carriers and their employees to report close calls and unsafe conditions, free from the fear of discipline. We found that creating a safe environment can have a positive impact on overall safety. C3RS has been successfully implemented by several large commuter railroads including, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, SEPTA, MBTA/Keolis, Metra, Metro-North, and Long Island Rail Road.
  • Sleep Apnea TestingSleep apnea is often the cause of operator fatigue that can lead to accidents. APTA, together with many commuter rail agencies and employee unions, developed programs to test operators for sleep apnea and fatigue to prevent accidents before they happen. With no national law or rule to enforce sleep apnea treatment in place, the industry is leading the way on safety.
  • APTA Safety Management Audit ProgramAn industry-adopted program, the APTA Safety Management Audit provides a review of an agency’s safety management processes and a tool for demonstrating system safety. Aligned with Safety Management Systems (SMS) and the requirements from the FRA in the Part 270 rule, teams of three to five auditors visit commuter rail systems to assess the agency’s safety plan and conduct tours of the system. The auditors issue a final report telling agencies how they can improve safety system-wide.
  • Inward and Outward-Facing CamerasAs cameras become more common on trains and buses to improve security and safety, commuter rail agencies are starting to adopt both inward and outward-facing cameras. While most transit and commuter rail agencies already have outward facing cameras, many are starting to adopt inward facing cameras as well. APTA supports the use of both inward and outward-facing cameras. APTA is working with FTA to establish best practices for the use of inward and outward facing cameras on rail transit.

Spotlight on Commuter Rail

Philadelphia, PA
San Francisco, CA
NJ Transit
New Jersey
Southern California
Virginia Railway Express
Northern Virginia
Northern Illinois Commuter Transportation District
Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Boston, MA