The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced the winners of the 2019 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards at the annual APTA Rail Conference in Toronto, Ontario, .
The APTA Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognize public transportation organizations for their innovative and proactive safety and security programs. It also provides value to the industry by benchmarking successful programs so other public transit systems can adopt them and derive similar benefits.
Nominations are evaluated on four criteria: effectiveness, benefit level, innovation, and transferability. The top honor is the GOLD Award, which is given to organizations with the best overall rail safety or rail security programs. A Certificate of Merit is given to organizations in recognition of exceptional achievement in safety or security.
The 2019 Rail Safety & Security Excellence Award winners are awarded in categories based on rail modes.
2019 Rail Safety Award Winners
Commuter/ Intercity Rail GOLD Award for Safety
MTA NY - Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) partnered with the MTA Police Department to create the Right-of-Way Task Force. LIRR is one of the bursirst commuter railroads in North America, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year carrying over 300,000 customers on 740 trains daily. The creation of the Right-of-Way Task Force allowed the MTA to respond quickly to complaints of traspassers, illegal dumping of debris, track enroachments, and potential security breaches. Along with the Right-of-Way Task Force, the installation of high security fencing has made LIRR safer.
Certificate of Merit for Safety
Virgin Trains USA (f/k/a/ Brightline)
Florida Brightline, which is currently transitioning to Virgin Trains USA, is the only privately owned, operated, and maintained express intercity passenger rail service in the US. Virgin Trains USA took an out-of-the-box approach to safety and partnered with a nonprofit organization to develop the BuzzBoxx, a mobile barbershop situated in a see-through container on the back of a truck. Virgin Trains USA and BuzzBoxx attended events in low-income neighborhoods and at local homeless shelters to educate key groups about rail safety. Members of the community received a complimentary haircut in exchange for taking the pledge to stay safe around active railroad tracks. The BuzzBoxx attended more than 50 events and provided haircuts to hundreds of members of the communities.
Heavy Rail Gold Award for Safety
Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works
In order to reduce employee injuries, Miami-Dade Transit created a safety program and adopted part of the Department of Transportation and Public Work’s SMS framework for monitoring employee injuries. Since the implementation of its new safety program, there has been a decrease in employee injuries. Now, safety staff meet with upper management at each work location, identify employee safety concerns, and discuss proactive solutions.
Light Rail/Streetcar GOLD Award for Safety
Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro)
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston Metro) identified a serious safety concern with light rail vehicles (LRV) and intersection crossings in the Central Business District. Houston Metro, in collaboration with the City of Houston’s traffic timing group, embarked on SmartSync, a project to improve traffic/rail signaling at intersections within Houston’s Central Business District (CBD) along Metro’s Red Line. SmartSync allows LRVs to move smoothly through the CBD corridor, while also giving drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians additional time to cross at intersections.
It had been a success. LRV crashes in Houston’s Central Business District, where improvements took place, have decreased by 35 percent since May 2018. The project has reduced wait times for all road users resulting in smoother traffic and pedestrian flow. Also, the efficiency gained from SmartSync, allowed Houston Metro to run the same six-minute service using one fewer train which translated into an annual operating cost savings of $250,000.
Certificate of Merit for Safety
Transdev acknowledged there was an increase in rail accidents in New Orleans and decided to be proactive. Transdev created an action plan to resolve the top issues contributing to the increase in rail accidents. The safety department conducted 100 percent of the driver evaluations for every streetcar operator within the calendar year. It implemented a new rule to govern the speed at intersections and refresher trainings were conducted in the field. These refresher trainings allowed instructors to reiterate the rule that they must stop at inspection stops and examine the switch points to ensure they’re aligned correctly before travelling through them.
2019 Rail Security Award Winners — Light Rail/Streetcar
GOLD Award for Security
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors approved a resolution on November 14, 2017 formalizing their commitment to enhance security throughout the DART system. This was the largest on-going security endeavor in the agency’s history addressing customer perceptions of crime and security.
The initiatives included: immediately increasing police presence at Dallas’ downtown stations and adjacent areas located in the heart of the Dallas Central Business District (CBD); increasing patrol coverage for other DART facilities within the CBD; deploying additional DART police and fare enforcement officers to patrol trains while in service, with 100 percent coverage by March 2018; completing the installation of CCTV cameras on the first 48 light rail vehicles by March 2018 and on the entire fleet of 163 light rail vehicles by March 2020; increasing and improving coordination between DART Police and the 13 service area cities; implementing other technology enhancements to support efforts to strengthen security; implementing environmental design improvements to enhance security at DART facilities; implementing a communications and messaging strategy to increase the public’s awareness of all of these DART security initiatives; and commissioned a 5-year strategic staffing plan to continue these initiatives.
Certificate of Merit for Security
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority teamed with the Buffalo Fire Department and the NFTA Police to update plans that effected safety and security related to their rail system. They identified first responder training needed to be the primary focus, especially with the increase of domestic terrorist attacks. More than 300 first responders were trained in order to respond in a quicker, safer manner and to be able to keep the system secure.
Commuter/Intercity Rail GOLD Award for Security
When people die in accidents the cause is often loss of blood, which can take a life within minutes. In adopting the nationally acclaimed Stop the Bleed campaign, Sound Transit has provided its employees and riders with tools to help control blood loss and promoted them through outreach and education. Sound Transit has distributed nearly 300 Stop the Bleed kits throughout its system, including trains and facilities, increasing its preparedness for catastrophic events.
Heavy Rail GOLD Award for Security
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has the only tri-jurisdictional police department in the United States with jurisdiction in the District of Columbia, State of Maryland, and Commonwealth of Virginia. WMATA has a 1,500 square mile transit zone that encompasses each jurisdiction which causes the agency to deploy a robust security plan. WMATA adopted the six pillars of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: Building Trust and Legitimacy; Policy and Oversight; Technology/Social Media; Community Policing and Crime Reduction; Training/Education; and Officer Wellness and Safety.