To remind the public of the dangers of walking along, playing by or cutting across its train and trolley tracks and through its rail yards and depots, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) held its first-ever "Make the Safe Choice" Safety Awareness Day on May 1.
Five hundred SEPTA employees and City Year corps members distributed educational materials and answered safety questions at more than 160 SEPTA rail, trolley and bus stations, loops and transportation centers throughout SEPTA’s five-county service area. Safety messages were also displayed on SEPTA vehicles and stations.
“You wouldn’t walk down the middle of the highway, why would you walk along the tracks? The tracks are the highway for our trains,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey.
Rail fatalities, accidental and intentional, are a national problem. Through the first four months of 2013, there have been eight deaths involving SEPTA’s Regional Rail and Broad Street lines. This puts SEPTA on a pace this year that could exceed the 12 deaths on all modes in 2012.
“The majority of transit-related incidents are preventable,” said SEPTA System Safety Director Scott Sauer. “A moving train can’t steer out of the way of an object or person on the tracks and it takes more effort and time to slow or stop a train. By crossing the tracks instead of using a dedicated overpass or underpass to get to the other side of station, people are putting themselves in imminent and unnecessary danger.”
SEPTA is committed to providing a safe travel environment for its customers, but also to ensure that all members of the public understand how to “make the safe choice” when riding on or walking near mass transit vehicles and facilities.
“You can never be too rushed to be cautious,” said Sauer. “Just taking a few seconds to check your surroundings, staying behind yellow lines on platforms and not running to catch a train or bus can be the difference between life and death.”
“Not only do we want to reach our customers at our stations and transportation centers with our Safety Awareness Day messages, we want them to share the educational materials and tips with their families, friends and neighbors,” said Casey. “We need the community to be our partners to help us spread the word about safety.”
The event is an extension of SEPTA System Safety’s “Safety Blitz” education program where at least once a month safety officers visit railroad, rail transit and bus stations across SEPTA, reviewing regulations and precautions with passengers. SEPTA’s System Safety Department also makes Operation Lifesaver rail safety presentations to students from kindergarten through high school and to a wide variety of audiences.