Minn.'s Metro, SouthWest win APTA's top safety award

Posted on May 6, 2013

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced the winners of the 2013 Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards yesterday at the opening session of the annual APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Indianapolis.

“I want to commend all of these winners for their tremendous contribution to safety and security in the public transportation industry, “said APTA President and CEO Michael P. Melaniphy. “They are setting an example that will allow for the entire industry to continue to make a safe industry even safer for its employees and riders.”

“This outstanding group of professionals truly honors those in the industry with their commitment to excellence in the safety and security area,” said APTA Chair Flora Castillo. “These award winners show how our industry puts reducing injuries and saving lives amongst our employees and riders as the number one priority.”

The APTA Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognize public transportation organizations for their innovative and proactive safety and security programs which are dedicated to improving safety and security for their employees, passengers and the public. The top honor is the GOLD Award, which is given to organizations with the best overall bus safety or bus security program selected by an independent panel of judges. A Certificate of Merit is given to organizations in recognition of exceptional achievement in safety or security.

The 2013 Bus Safety & Security Excellence Award winners are:

Bus systems with fewer than 4 million passenger trips annually

  • GOLD Award for Safety – SouthWest Transit, Eden Prairie, Minn.

In cooperation with its operations and maintenance departments, SouthWest Transit developed an aggressive, multipronged approach to hiring, training, and supervising bus operator and maintenance staff. In a two-year period the program resulted in a drop in the overall accident rate, as well as significant decrease in the number of chargeable accidents with significant damage.

  • Certificate of Merit for Security – SouthWest Transit, Eden Prairie, Minn.

In support of SouthWest Transit’s emergency preparedness and security program, the agency developed a comprehensive all-hazards Emergency Preparedness Plan, incorporating elements from the resources of Federal Transit Administration, APTA, Department of Homeland Security, and National Transit Institute. Other initiatives included a department-by-department threat and vulnerability assessment from which management identified priorities for several capital projects and security upgrades.

Bus systems with more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually

  • Certificate of Merit for Safety – Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA), Albany, N.Y.

In an effort to improve workplace safety and control worker’s compensation program costs, CDTA implemented a comprehensive strategy: the “full court press” approach.

The revamped program featured a new Personal Protective Equipment Policy, a revised injury preventability review process; targeted group training that is based on workplace accident trends, a safety certification component of the equipment procurement process, and enhanced data management and trend analysis.

  • Certificate of Merit for Security – Transit Authority of River City (TARC), Louisville, Ky.

In a coordinated response to a spike in the number of assaults on bus operators and juvenile crimes on the system from 2010 to 2012, and as part of Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher’s “Compassionate Louisville” resolution, TARC implemented a Restorative Justice Program which utilizes facilitated family conferencing and community-based practices.

The offending juvenile signs an agreement with TARC and city officials, acknowledging the harm inflicted by his or her actions, and resolving to take actions to remediate or repair the damages caused. In several reported successful interventions, the juvenile discovers an alternative path for becoming a more productive member of the community.

Bus systems with 20 million or more passenger trips annually

  • GOLD Award for Safety – Metro Transit, Minneapolis

After two fatal bus-pedestrian collisions in 2009, the bus safety and transportation departments developed several targeted initiatives, including an operator awareness campaign entitled “Look & See.” This program was rolled out in a series of key lessons over a period of one year. Each phase focused on a specific challenge that a bus operator likely encounters every day, such as pedestrians, bus stops and bicycles.

Several safety campaigns were also directed to the riding public, including “Stay Out of the Zone” (around the bus, while it is turning or maneuvering into or out of a bus stop) and another key lesson: “Stay Safe/Don’t Chase.” In another example of getting the community involved in safety, Metro Transit collaborated with the bicycling community to not only develop revamped training materials for its staff, but also a “Life Behind the Wheel” exercise to which bicycling enthusiasts were invited and could sit in a bus operator’s seat and experience what an operator can — and cannot — see while driving.

  • Certificate of Merit for Safety – Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (Tri Met), Portland, Ore.

Stemming from analysis which showed 31% of their pedestrian/cyclist accidents were occurring during dusk or dark hours, TriMet initiated several measures to curb the problem and found a strong ally in the local media.

The highlight of the “Be Seen. Be Safe.” campaign was a media event which featured safety talks by experts, fashion show segments featuring reflective outerwear, contests for “best lit bike” and “best lit pedestrian,” a performance by an LED dance team, vendors showcasing reflective gear, and a 30-minute lit bike ride around the city that served as an example of how best to “be seen.” It was such a hit that the local NBC affiliate station not only broadcast live segments and featured the event on its website.

  • GOLD Award for Security – Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM), Montreal

In response to an alarming increase in assaults on bus operators, which at its worst had accounted for 40% of lost workdays at STM, management initiated a joint effort with the labor union and the provincial occupational health and safety board, and came up with a comprehensive program, entitled Sécuribus. Through improvements in onboard surveillance, ongoing incident de-escalation training, public outreach, and improved response and support resources, Sécuribus yielded impressive results. The number of assaults of all types has decreased 44%, the number of physical assaults has decreased 53%, and the number of assault-related sick days taken is down 52%.

Further, STM estimates that the program can be contributed to a savings of $1.9 million in costs linked to assaults from 2007 to 2012 (a decrease of 43.7%).

  • Certificate of Merit for Security – MTA New York City Transit, New York

To combat the crimes of graffiti and “scratchiti” throughout the NYCT system, the NYCT Department of Security implemented the Evasion and Graffiti Lawlessness Eradication Team (EAGLE Team – Vandal Squad). Mitigation strategies were identified and tactical deployments were ramped up in 2012 in response to a surge in yard “hits.” As a result of these efforts, overall graffiti statistics have decreased, and over $275,000 in restitution have been collected since 2007.

Private companies providing contracted transportation management and services

  • Certificate of Merit for Safety– National Express Transit – Westmoreland County Transit Authority, Greensburg, Pa.

National Express Transit management implemented a new training regimen to focus on unsafe driving habits. The contractor’s reportable collisions dropped from four in 2010, to two in 2011, down to zero in 2012.

See last year's award winners here.

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