The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has received millions of dollars in grant assistance with no apparent improvement in transportation services. The purpose of this study was to: (1) identify any trends in SEPTA's safety conditions; (2) review UMTA's role in monitoring the safety of SEPTA's transit system; and (3) determine the factors, including safety, that UMTA considers in approving grant assistance to SEPTA. Results in brief are as follows: Studies of SEPTA's commuter rail and rapid rail lines disclosed safety problems in 1983 and 1984. Review of SEPTA's safety data showed that while improvements have been made in the commuter rail and rapid rail safety conditions, there have been upward trends in the accident and injury rates for motor bus, trolley bus, and streetcar transportation modes. Furthermore, the review showed that UMTA's oversight has not been adequate to assess SEPTA's safety conditions. It was found that UMTA does not collect detailed information on the types and causes of SEPTA accidents and injuries and, consequently, has little basis to emphasize safety during its triennial review of SEPTA operations and to determine whether a safety investigation should be initiated. The UMTA safety investigation conducted at SEPTA was limited to only one of the three rapid rail lines. It was also found that UMTA did not consider safety in approving SEPTA's annual programs of projects, and that SEPTA only recently developed a formal process for assessing the safety importance of proposed projects. Consequently, UMTA has little assurance that its formula and discretionary grant awards are being used to improve safety conditions. Also noted were instances where UMTA's grant funding decisions were not consistent with SEPTA's funding priorities. UMTA did not explain why its funding decision differed from SEPTA's, which impeded SEPTA's planning process. Finally, the specific factors the UMTA Administrator considered in awarding discretionary grants to SEPTA could not be determined because documentation supporting the basis for the awards was not maintained at the UMTA program level.

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures;
  • Pagination: 34 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00493683
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-90-41
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 30 1990 12:00AM