Veolia Transportation

Building a Safety Culture

REACHING for World-Class Safety at Transdev North America

At Transdev, caring for the safety of our employees and the passengers we serve, is the most important thing that we do every day. Safety is our moral, ethical and legal obligation and is at the core of everything that we do. We are relentless in our ongoing pursuit of World-Class Safety and are committed to continuing to elevate our performance.

Many initiatives reinforce our commitment to safety:

  • Continuous training and coaching
  • Employee engagement through many visible programs and initiatives
  • Clear operating procedures and guidelines
  • Continued management focus
  • Insistence upon accountability at all levels
  • Rigorous audit processes with action plans and coaching sessions designed to foster continuous improvement
  • Requiring accurate reporting and measurement.
  • Sharing best practices among all our operations

These initiatives help build a culture of safety, where every employee takes personal responsibility for safety, every minute.

REACHING for World-Class Safety at Transdev North America,
By Shelly Hall, VP of Safety and Security


My vision is to achieve World-Class Safety: every day.

While we are very proud of our safety efforts and programs, we never relent on our focus. We are committed to a continued focus on excellence in all of our safety practices and results, at all locations. We strive to ingrain safety practices into our thoughts and actions at every level of the company. We reinforce to our managers and supervisors that to achieve the results we are committed to, our safety consciousness must be fully integrated into daily business practices, processes and decisions, and each employee must consider safe operations their personal responsibility.

Our proprietary Operator Development Training Program (ODP), which leads the industry, includes 40 hours of classroom training and 80 hours of behind-the-wheel training standardizes the training off all Transdev drivers. Each operator spends 40 hours in the classroom, 10 hours in a closed course and 70 hours behind the wheel. There are 33 performance standards and skills that vehicle operators must meet. Our emphasis is on modeling sound behaviors, and there is extensive practice and coaching from skilled, dedicated safety trainers at each location.

Our Operator Development Program was designed to be adapted to include the training requirements of our Transit Authority clients. Facilitated by a well-trained Safety Manager, the ODP classroom training uses 22 state-of-the-art DVDs that explicitly train operators in every aspect of safe driving. Rather than lectures, these are participatory, engaging sessions that include extensive materials for trainers (discussion guides, facilitators guides, etc), a detailed instructor’s manual and operator workbooks for practice and comprehension. Quizzes and tests are used to document performance and learning, and there is a thorough final driving evaluation.

SmartDrive is in nearly all of our vehicles, and is rigorously used to train and coach operators. This technology video tapes any situation that passes a threshold of G-force, such as sudden stops, swerves, impact, etc. We use SmartDrive video technology and tapes to identify and correct unsafe driving behaviors. These tapes, plus many other types of observation, are the basis of how we coach drivers to make any needed changes.

Our major safety initiative, 300:29:1, focuses employee attention on identifying and eliminating the small, unsafe acts that can accumulate and can lead to an accident. This is based on a long-held safety principle that preventing minor unsafe acts, will in turn reduce the number of accidents. We have a robust communication plan surrounding this concept and several employee programs in place to keep this concept at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

To further assure continuous improvement in our safety performance, our national safety audit program measures compliance with Federal, State and Local requirements, OSHA standards and adherence to Transdev’s standards. All locations are audited annually. Audits are followed by detailed action plans for which managers are held accountable.

We believe in the old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure.We rigorously measure safety performance data at all our locations. We have a nationwide, shared database called “WebRisk” in which all our locations record all accident and injury data following prescribed, consistent procedures. This lets us analyze our performance and progress for individual locations, regions and nationwide, so we can tightly monitor our performance, compare performance of comparable locations, and develop improvement plans where needed. This data also enables us to create actionable “Dashboards” enabling each location to see its performance versus its peers.

Our employees have also developed an innovative engagement and incentive program called DRIVE. At each location, the DRIVE Team spots safety issues and proposes solutions, using the member’s collective expertise to prevent accidents and injuries.

The team also engages employees in a variety of motivational programs. All employees win prizes based on the improvement in safety performance at their location. The DRIVE program helps build a culture of safety through individual and group accountability.

In sum, safety is our most deeply held value and top priority. We teach our managers and supervisors that achieving “world-class safety” status is dependent upon building a culture where every employee considers safe practices a priority.

Ron Robusto, on Rail Safety
VP Safety and Compliance, Transdev North America Rail Division


My focus is to ensure that Transdev North America continues to be a leader in the rail industry. To provide world-class rail transportation services by promoting our strong culture of safety.

Cutting-Edge work in understanding the science of distraction
Transdev is leading the industry in safety research and the applications to our employees and staff. Two years ago, Transdev took up a research initiative aimed at understanding and mitigating the effects of distraction on rail operators. In June, 2011, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded Transdev a $250,000 contract in support of our research in this important area. The study is an innovative approach that applies the science of cognitive performance to the railroad workplace. With a goal of better ensuring the safety of rail operations, we are seeking to establish proven means to help rail employees sustain their attention. Ultimately, the findings will develop training modules for locomotive and transit operators, introducing them to the concept of workplace distraction and developing strategies for recognizing and mitigating distraction.

Over the years of investigating many major railroad accidents, I have come to believe that although human error is inevitable, human factor-caused train derailments and rule violations are 100% preventable. With effective training, sound crew resource management principles and teamwork, errors can be caught and corrected before they lead to a serious railroad accident. And that is essentially why I decided to join Transdev Transportation, a company that is committed to making its rail networks the safest in the world. I am excited to be part of this team and am eager to play a leadership role in helping the North American Rail Group accomplish this goal.

Strong Safety Systems and Processes
One of our most important initiatives has been the development of our corporate rail System Safety Program Plan, which adds to our local System Safety Program Plans already in place at our various locations. These plans establish the necessary framework to further develop and implement strong safety initiatives that target more rigorous standards and measures, effective training, and programs for employee engagement. We are also working to enhance our already strong audit program, through which we inspect all of our rail operations and implement changes and upgrades wherever necessary. These audits provide clear overviews of our operations, help us to benchmark achievements and improve performance.

A Passion and Commitment to Critical Operating Rules
Our teams are already meeting or exceeding the FRA requirements for Critical Operating Rules Tests. This is a formalized rail industry technique for evaluating safety-critical employees’ understanding of the meaning and application of operating rules and practices. We will continue to place a great deal of emphasis on these important evaluations and work together to remedy any issues that are identified.

Sharing global best practices to drive continuous improvement
Lastly, we have a very effective information exchange in place between the U.S. and our rail operations around the world. This exchange provides us with a wealth of operational expertise in systems that are far more complex than many of our U.S. operations. As you can imagine, having access to a highly experienced network of rail experts from all over the world is a tremendous asset.