Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) today announced the award of $162,500 in grant funds for public awareness and safety education projects involving 11 transit agencies across the U.S. The local transit agencies and state Operation Lifesaver programs will work together to produce educational projects featuring the OLI safety campaign slogan, See Tracks? Think Train!
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The ongoing campaign's message is that whether driving or walking, when people see tracks, they should use caution and be alert for approaching trains. The campaign will increase public awareness of transit surroundings and help people pay attention in potentially dangerous situations.
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"These grants assist local agencies with their educational safety campaigns and are important for reaching drivers, pedestrians and transit riders in their own communities," said OLI President/CEO Joyce Rose. "We want to thank the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for helping us promote the availability of the funds and we especially want to thank the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for providing the funding."
"The Federal Transit Administration is pleased to partner once again with Operation Lifesaver on this crucial campaign to raise awareness about the need for safety around transit," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. "As more and more communities around the nation choose to build light rail, streetcars, and other transit services that operate alongside pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, we must continue to educate the public on the importance of putting safety first."
The winning agencies selected to receive a share of the funding include:
• Sacramento Regional Transit District, Sacramento, Calif.
• City of Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.
• Rio Metro Regional Transit District, Albuquerque, N.M.
• Illinois Operation Lifesaver/Metra, Greater Chicago, Ill., area
• Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Dallas, Texas
• New Jersey Transit, Greater Newark, N.J., area
• Bi-State Development Agency (d/b/a Metro in the greater St. Louis, Mo., area)
• Fort Worth Transportation Authority/The T, Ft. Worth, Texas
• Ohio Operation Lifesaver/Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Cleveland, Ohio
• Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Greater Salt Lake City, Utah area
• Valley Metro, Phoenix, Ariz.
The winning transit agencies will use their funds to undertake safety public awareness and education campaigns. Examples of campaigns and projects funded by the grants include:
- The City of Atlanta will be educating students at Georgia State University about safety around Atlanta's new Streetcar route that runs near the campus.
- DART's project seeks to increase rail safety awareness among the homeless population near the DART and Trinity Railway Express rights-of-way. "We appreciate the support of Operation Lifesaver for our effort to engage a community that is historically hard to reach. We believe this project will help strengthen safety and our overall safety communication program," said DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas.
- Illinois Operation Lifesaver/Metra will feature the "See Tracks? Think Trains!" message on external train banners, electronic signs in Citigroup Center and on plastic ticket pouches.
- NJ Transit will implement collision preventative measures and raise awareness of unsafe pedestrian and vehicular behavior near trains, tracks and stations throughout the NJ Transit system and along rights of way.
- "The Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) will aim to increase rail safety awareness among millennials in the Fort Worth area. Millennials are comfortable using technology and prefer to get information digitally. We will use social media marketing methods to educate about the dangers around tracks and the high risk act of driving around crossing gates, which is illegal and deadly," said Paul Ballard, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority."
- In Ohio, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will improve grade crossing safety along their 15.3-mile light rail system. "We are planning a safety advertising blitz that will launch with a media event at Shaker Square. We want safety to be at the forefront of the minds of our customers, motorists and employees," said Joe Calabrese, GCRTA CEO and General Manager. "We want to eliminate the unsafe turns vehicles make outside of the intersections which cause them to get stuck on GCRTA tracks."
The grants range between $7,500 and $20,000 and require each agency to provide a 25 percent match. The educational campaigns must use OLI-approved materials and logos and be coordinated through a state OL program . A team of U.S. Department of Transportation and APTA safety and education professionals evaluated the applications based on criteria such as key safety messages and target audiences, evaluation methods, and timelines.
Materials will be developed this fall, and the creative safety campaigns will launch by spring 2015.