Metro recognized for its safety efforts along light rail lines

APTA Lunch

Metro’s Director of Transit Safety Programs Barbara Burns and Interim Chief Communications Officer Lynda Bybee (second and third from left, respectively) accept the award from APTA.

Some nice news for Metro: the agency has received an award from the American Public Transportation Association for its program to improve and maintain safety along light rail corridors. Here is the news release from APTA:

2013 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards Announced

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced the winners of the first annual Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards, which acknowledges rail transit agencies in North America for their excellence in safety and security programs and operations.  The awards ceremony took place took place on June 4 at the 2013 APTA Rail Conference, which was held in Philadelphia, PA.

“Safety and security are the top priorities in the public transportation industry,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo. “The winners of this year’s Rail Safety and Security Excellence Awards are role models for the rest of the transit rail industry.”
“I congratulate the 2013 winners of the Rail Safety and Security Excellence Awards,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “Their contributions to increasing rail safety and security are shining examples of the high level of safety and security programs that exist in North American rail transit systems.”
Winning in all three categories New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) won two GOLD Awards for Safety and one GOLD Award for Security.  Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) received a GOLD Award for Safety, in the Light Rail category.

Category: Heavy Rail
GOLD Award for Safety
 – MTA New York City Transit, New York, NY
Beginning in 2012, MTA NYCT undertook a historic program titled FASTRACK, which consisted of nightly shutdowns of segments of subway lines within New York City.  The objective was to provide “traffic-free” zones to enhance worker safety and increase maintenance productivity. A 24-hour subway system is a hallmark of New York City, and the FASTRACK shutdowns required a significant change in public expectations.  The FASTRACK program created efficiencies within the organization by maximizing “piggy backing” of ideally located projects in order to effectively create protected zones for employees to complete projects in many different disciplines. Most importantly, the MTA attributes its reduction in employee accidents during FASTRACK, not only to the service shutdown, but to a safety culture reinforced by the program.

GOLD Award for Security – MTA New York City Transit, New York, NY
The implementation of MTA New York City Transit’s EAGLE Team anti-graffiti program has reduced graffiti vandalism and criminal mischief.  Over the past three years (2010-2012), major incidents which took trains out of service for cleaning were down 28.8%. The EAGLE Team’s detection and deterrence of graffiti-related incidents positively contributes to the mitigation of criminal activity across the transit system.

Category: Commuter/Intercity/Regional Rail
GOLD Award for Safety – 
MTA Long Island Railroad, Jamaica, NY
In cooperation with its Maintenance of Equipment Department, Long Island Railroad developed an aggressive approach to safety that engages all levels of this department. This has reaped great benefits in helping to set new performance records, and it has improved the overall safety performance record for the organization.

Category: Light Rail
GOLD Award for Safety – Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Los Angeles, CA

Metro has adopted the three “E’s” of rail safety–Engineering, Education, and Enforcement–as its pillars of system safety. Metro began to draft and train qualified retirees, as “Ambassadors,” to be deployed at strategic locations before system testing began on the line. These Ambassadors were strategically positioned to observe the behavior and patterns of motorists and pedestrians as they crossed the tracks, and to note how they responded to the various warning devices and signs.  Beyond the line extensions, the Ambassadors played a pivotal role in encouraging the community to adopt safe behaviors, intervening when they observed unsafe acts, and educating the public about the meaning of the new warning signs installed at the crossings. 


The following public transit systems were also recognized for their stellar safety and security programs with Certificates of Merit:

Category: Heavy Rail
Certificate of Merit for Safety
 – Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, DC
WMATA has dramatically improved safety overall and built a new safety culture within the organization following the June 22, 2009 Red Line collision.  Since then, WMATA has successfully closed seven NTSB recommendations and submitted for closure another 12 recommendations.  Roughly 90 percent of WMATA’s $5 billion, six-year capital improvement plan is dedicated to improving the safety and reliability of infrastructure, passenger facilities and vehicles.  Among the highlights of the program is the purchase of 428 new 7000-series rail cars to replace the system’s oldest cars to provide enhanced safety for riders. WMATA has also created new safety committees at every level of the organization, improved their safety management system, and adopted new safety management practices — along with many other initiatives — in an effort to dramatically improve worker and patron safety.  All of these efforts have resulted in a successful shift in Metro’s safety culture that is evidenced by lower employee and passenger injury rates.  In calendar year 2012, employee injury rates were reduced by 3 percent and customer injury rates were reduced by 10 percent, as compared to injury rates in 2011.

Certificate of Merit for Security – Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago, IL
In late 2011, CTA completed a six-month rapid-installation project to install more than 1,800 additional cameras, which more than doubles the size of CTA’s existing rail system camera network. Upon project completion, all CTA rail stations are now equipped with multiple high-definition cameras. This camera network is especially helpful along CTA’s two busiest rail routes – the Red and Blue Lines—that operate 24 hours, every day. The rail system camera network expansion was one of several unprecedented efforts implemented over the last two years across the ‘L’ system in an effort to help prevent crime, solve cases, and improve the safety and security of customers and employees. Other initiatives included increased police presence with officers who are dedicated to patrolling the CTA, and execution of “Rail Saturation Missions,” which are highly visible teams of police deployed to hot spot areas on the system, all of which help reduce crime on the system.

Category: Commuter/Intercity/Regional Rail
Certificate of Merit for Safety – New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT)
, Newark, NJ
NJ TRANSIT’s successful C3RS program is a “close call” reporting program that enables management to proactively address these incidents that often previously went unreported on the railroad. NJ TRANSIT has successfully implemented several safety initiatives as a direct result of the data collected through the program.   The use of the program helps identity the root cause of incidents that may be occurring in the system.

Certificate of Merit for Security – Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), Montreal, QC
To coordinate with police, emergency services, and around Greater Montreal in the event of an emergency, AMT created a Railway Response Guide to increase awareness, familiarization of the technical issues with AMT’s operations, and the railway sector. This guide along with training courses has helped to keep AMT safe and secure.

Category: Light Rail
Certificate of Merit for Safety – Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA)
, Cleveland, OH
GCRTA facilitated a joint venture that included the City of Shaker Heights and the Ohio Department of Transportation to mitigate the grade crossing collisions. A project was assembled in 2003 that enabled GCRTA, in cooperation with the City of Shaker Heights and ODOT, to install “No Left Turn” Blank-Out Signalization at 16 light rail grade crossings along the Blue and Green Lines. The result has been a reduction of grade crossing collisions with vehicles.  In 2004, there were 13 collisions with vehicles and that was reduced to two collisions in 2012.

Certificate of Merit for Safety – Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA
Through several coordinated initiatives, and with the assistance of the California Public Utilities Commission and traffic engineers from local municipalities, a vital light rail safety enhancement program was completed by VTA in 2012.  A number of safety improvements were implemented to effectively decrease train/automobile left turn collisions resulting from automobiles failing to recognize left turn lane red lights.  As a result, the safety enhancement program helped reduce the amount of left-hand turn accidents by 50 percent.  Track intrusions due to illegal left turns were also reduced from a high of 110 in 2006 to 52 in 2012.

Certificate of Merit for Security – Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), Buffalo, NY
NFTA was awarded a grant through the 2009 Transit Security Grant Program (ARRA funding) to set up and operate a antiterrorism team along with two K9 teams for explosive detection. They conducted random VIPR sweeps for antiterrorism efforts, which also helped to reduce the overall crime throughout the system. Crime decreased throughout the NFTA by more than 20 percent overall as a result of their efforts.

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.