SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Friday issued a decision by an Administrative Law Judge that penalizes Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for two fatalities that occurred in 2013 in Contra Costa County.
On October 19, 2013, a BART train struck and killed a BART manager and a BART contractor who were working on tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. Today’s Administrative Law Judge’s decision closes the CPUC’s formal investigation that was opened on June 28, 2016, and finds that BART, through several of its veteran managers, violated multiple safety rules. The decision further concludes that the violations are egregious, particularly in view of the fact that they were committed by BART’s top-level veteran managers, and reflected BART’s organizational and management culture and attitudes toward safety at the time of the incident.
The Administrative Law Judge’s decision fines BART $659,000. However, two-thirds of the fine will be stayed and in lieu of the stayed fine, BART will be placed on probation for three years.
The judge ordered BART to:
1. Immediately begin tracking and submitting to the CPUC all applicable violations of safety rules, practices, policies, or procedures and details of corrective actions taken, including disciplinary actions (local, state, federal, internal, and external safety rules), including violations similar to those addressed in this proceeding;
2. Within six months, reevaluate its current safety training programs and culture and devise and begin implementing a plan to improve the effectiveness of its current safety training programs and methods of improving its safety culture throughout the organization;
3. Within six months, develop and begin implementing annual safety rules, practices, policies, procedures, and culture refresher courses for all of its essential managers who are entrusted to comply with and/or enforce worker safety rules, practices, policies, procedures, and/or culture, of no less than 40 hours, and annually submit to the CPUC certifications for each manager who completed the refresher; and,
4. Annually brief the CPUC on BART’s annual safety report and all updates on BART’s efforts to continually improve its safety culture and enhanced compliance with all of the applicable safety rules, practices, policies, and procedures.
Within 60 days, BART must pay the remaining one-third of the total fine assessed, which is $219,666.67, payable to the State’s General Fund.
During the three year probationary period, the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division will monitor BART’s compliance with the decision. No later than nine months prior to the expiration of the ordered probation period, the Safety and Enforcement Division will prepare a recommendation on whether BART’s probation should be extended beyond three years.