The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has launched a series of initiatives to improve safety throughout its operations by strengthening reporting responsibilities, emphasizing management oversight and installing automatic speed controls.
Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast is creating the position of chief safety officer, a new senior management post reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO, to ensure safety is a top priority throughout all MTA operations. The MTA will also create a new Safety Committee on its board to provide focused oversight of safety issues.
In addition, each MTA agency will ensure its top safety official reports directly to the agency’s president, to reinforce that safety is a prime concern for every agency’s management. At Metro-North Railroad, where safety and security now report to the same position, the responsibilities will be separated and a new position of chief safety officer will be created.
“The safety of our customers and employees is unquestionably the top priority for the MTA and these steps will make sure this emphasis on safety is built into the operations of every MTA agency,” Prendergast said.
Agency presidents discussed their safety programs at a meeting of MTA Board committees, detailing how they monitor the condition of crews and equipment, search for potential problems and fix those that they discover. Key among the presidents’ efforts is emphasizing and improving the safety culture within their agencies, so all operations have safety as their primary objective.
All MTA agencies have re-examined their safety-related operations over the past year. Prendergast, who has spent 10 years of his career in safety positions, convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of outside experts to study MTA safety practices in September.
Additionally, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road have installed automatic speed controls at 10 critical curves and one moveable bridge. These controls work with existing signal systems installed in every train cab to enforce speed limits at those locations.