United States: APTA recognises excellence in level crossing safety

10 Jun

LXinfoImage1169-APTA logoThe American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has 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 4th, 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 programmes that exist in North American rail transit systems.”

Awards for initiatives with a significant level crossing component are as follows:

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) received a GOLD Award for Safety, in the Light Rail category. 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 behaviour 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 behaviours, intervening when they observed unsafe acts, and educating the public about the meaning of the new warning signs installed at the crossings.

A Certificate of Merit for Safety went to the 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 level 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 Signals at 16 light rail level crossings along the Blue and Green Lines. The result has been a reduction of level crossing collisions with vehicles. In 2004, there were 13 collisions with vehicles and that was reduced to two collisions in 2012.

A Certificate of Merit for Safety was also awarded to Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA. Through several co-ordinated initiatives, and with the assistance of the California Public Utilities Commission and traffic engineers from local municipalities, a vital light rail safety enhancement programme 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 recognise left turn lane red lights. As a result, the safety enhancement programme helped reduce the amount of left-hand turn accidents by 50%. Track intrusions due to illegal left turns were also reduced from a high of 110 in 2006 to 52 in 2012.

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