Washington, DC: Operation Lifesaver grants to transit agencies

8 Dec

Operation Lifesaver has announced the award of USD148,500 in grant funds to eight rail transit agencies in seven states for public awareness and safety education projects. The local rail transit agencies and Operation Lifesaver programmes will work together to produce educational projects utilizing the nonprofit organisation’s “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign, which was developed in partnership with the Association of American Railroads and the United States Department of Transportation. 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, light rail vehicles or streetcars. The grant campaigns will increase public awareness of rail transit surroundings and help people pay attention in potentially dangerous situations.

“We are thrilled to award these rail transit safety education grants to these eight agencies,” said Operation Lifesaver Vice President Wende Corcoran. “We appreciate the help of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in publicizing the rail transit safety grant program. Operation Lifesaver is very grateful to our safety partners at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for providing the funding.”

“FTA strongly supports more innovative rail transit safety awareness outreach efforts to educate the communities where these systems operate,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan.  “Whether as a passenger or walking, riding or driving near the tracks, safety must be everyone’s top priority.”

The winning agencies selected to receive a share of the funding include:

The winning rail transit agencies will use their funds to produce the following safety public awareness and education campaigns:
  • Metrolink will run a bilingual, targeted, and coordinated campaign with a series of print, digital, social media, and radio public service announcements aimed at raising public awareness and improving pedestrian behavior around rail property. Ads will include bilingual bus ads, billboards, Pandora music web ads, and mobile social media ads, as well as radio spots and sponsorships.
  • SMART will conduct a “Be Track SMART” in-theatre Rail Safety Ad Campaign to place rail safety ads in area movie theatres from October 2015 through February 2016 to deliver rail safety messaging during holiday season blockbuster movie showings.
  • The MARTA system’s Rail Safety Passenger Education (RSPE) initiative is an effort to educate MARTA riders on how to safely access the platforms and board the trains using a creative video and complementary material.
  • Metro Transit will refresh public outreach messaging for motorists and pedestrians, including billboards, bus ads and bus wraps, platform kiosks and clings, and vehicle interior cards.
  • The KC Streetcar service, opening in early 2016, plans a campaign to communicate the safety message “Respect the Rail:  Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Ready,” around streetcars. The campaign will leverage a partnership with local nonprofit BikeWalkKC in a coordinated effort to disseminate safety messaging for pedestrians, bicyclists and those with disabilities.
  • TriMet plans a safety outreach marketing campaign surrounding Portland’s MAX Orange Line, targeting people living or traveling in an area with quiet zones that have seen risky cyclist behavior around a light- and heavy-rail shared corridor. The campaign will run during a three-month period including National Bike Month and will feature TV, digital, radio ads and social media.
  • Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority will launch a campaign to increase rail safety awareness in the Houston Metro area among motorists and pedestrians through distribution of approved OLI materials, the use of “backpack” billboards that are worn by campaign representatives to draw attention, and social media.
  • Hampton Roads’ light rail transit system, known as the Tide, will initiate an awareness campaign to educate and promote safety in the downtown Norfolk corridor within the city’s Central Business District (CBD). “See Tracks? Think Train!” promotional items will be used as safety reminders to pedestrians in the CBD. Desensitized behaviors create the need for light rail safety campaigns to continually remind the public to adhere to safety guidelines when around the Tide.

The grants range between USD13,500 and USD20,000 and require each agency to provide a 25% match. The educational campaigns must use Operation Lifesaver approved materials and logos and be coordinated through a state Operation Lifesaver programme. A team of transit safety and education professionals evaluated the applications based on criteria such as key safety messages and target audiences, evaluation methods, and timelines. Safety campaigns will launch by spring 2016, Corcoran noted.

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