MBTA Green Line platform posters for See Tracks? Think Train! campaign.
Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) is the national rail safety education organization whose mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property.
The national focus in transit safety has increased, particularly in the wake of several high-profile train collisions on rail transit systems over the last decade. But, it is important to remember that 71% of transit-related fatalities in 2012 were pedestrians, trespassers or occupants of cars that collided with transit vehicles. The greatest area of risk in transit safety is people driving, walking or bicycling in an unsafe manner around crossings and tracks, or acting carelessly on station platforms.
RELATED: How OLI can help your transit system's safety program
Since 2007, OLI has partnered with state Operation Lifesaver programs and transit agencies to develop public awareness and outreach campaigns to improve safety around rail transit systems. Last month, OLI announced the 2014 competitive transit safety education grant awards to 11 transit agencies totaling $162,500, for public outreach and education campaigns utilizing the Operation Lifesaver national safety campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” (ST3). The ST3 campaign is aimed at young people aged 18 to 35, especially young men, and has a variety of bilingual campaign materials, including video and radio PSAs, billboards, train and bus posters and wraps, and public awareness merchandise. The campaign has a dedicated microsite, www.SeeTracksThinkTrain.org, where materials can be shared and downloaded.
The 11 transit systems that were awarded grant funding this year are:
• Sacramento RTD
• the City of Atlanta
• Rio Metro RTD in Albuquerque
• Illinois Operation Lifesaver for Metra
• Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
• New Jersey Transit
• Bi-State Development Agency, St. Louis
• Fort Worth Transportation Authority/The T
• Ohio Operation Lifesaver for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
• Utah Transit Authority
• Valley Metro, Phoenix
The winning projects for this year proposed creative ways to implement transit safety education. A few examples include the City of Atlanta, which will be educating students at Georgia State University about safety around the new Atlanta Streetcar; Dallas’ DART, which aims to increase rail safety awareness among the homeless population near its rights-of-way; and Cleveland’s GCRTA, which will focus on educating drivers who act unsafely at grade crossings along their 13.5-mile light rail system.
In addition to this year’s competitive transit safety education grants, OLI kick-started the ST3 campaign by disbursing $70,000 in regional grants to use the “See Tracks? Think Train!” materials in transit systems around the country. Thus, in Boston, Green Line trains have been wrapped with the ST3 message; the Virginia Railway Express runs the ST3 video PSAs at its platform monitors; Metra commuters in Illinois carry their monthly passes in ticket cases with the ST3 logo imprint; and Fresno Area Express buses carry side-panel ads with the ST3 message. These are just a few of the transit safety outreach efforts featuring the campaign.
Funding for the OLI transit safety education grants is provided by the Federal Transit Administration. OLI is grateful for FTA’s support and looks forward to increasing our partnership with transit systems through the transit safety education grant program.
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Soon after reaching my 20th year in the transit industry, back in 1993, after a draining day of addressing routine bus issues, I would cross paths with another employee, who I always remember, seemed to be quietly “doing his own little daily gig.”
Years ago, I was with Louie Maiello when someone walked over and asked him for some advice: “We’re having problems with people remembering to secure the bus before they leave their seat. Do you have any advice? How can we get them to remember?” Without missing a beat, Louie said “PIN it.” The advice seeker happened to be a veteran mechanic, so he understood and walked away to resume his work. I stood there for a while scratching my head. Pin it?
Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"