Feds grant $29 million in funds to promote transit safety

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Thirteen organizations in nine states will receive a share of $29 million in grant funding through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Innovative Safety, Resiliency and All-Hazards Emergency Response and Recovery Demonstration funding opportunity.


FTA says the grants will support cutting-edge developments in mass transit, utilizing state-of-the-art technology to help transit agencies improve track worker and passenger safety, better withstand natural disasters and respond more effectively to emergencies.

“Safety is our highest priority at the U.S. Department of Transportation and we are committed to ensuring that public transportation remains one of the safest ways to travel in the United States,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These grants will help transit agencies utilize the latest, most innovative technologies available to reduce collisions, protect track workers, improve operations during emergencies and natural disasters and maintain equipment and infrastructure.”

Examples of the types of projects selected include track intrusion detection systems that will alert rail operators and transit officials to stop trains if a person or object is detected on the track; prototype equipment such as front-end bumpers for light-rail vehicles that operate in mixed traffic to minimize the impact of collisions and planning tools to help transit agencies protect equipment and infrastructure and deploy services during emergencies and natural disasters.

“FTA is proud to support cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to significantly improve transit safety and operations in the years ahead,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “It is critical that we continue to invest in 21st century systems that will keep transit riders and workers safe and offer places like New Jersey and New Orleans the tools they need to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and natural disasters.”

Five rail-related projects will see nearly $17 million in grants to go towards safety improvements.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) will receive $1.7 million to install and test a Platform Track Intrusion Detection System (PTIDS) at select light rail and heavy rail stations to reduce injuries, fatalities and other track intrusion incidents. The radar-based system will monitor station platforms and portions of track and alert rail operators and LACMTA’s Rail Operations Center to stop trains if a person or object is detected within the track right-of-way.

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District will receive $5 million to develop and demonstrate innovative safety technologies that will improve track worker safety and help prevent accidents involving trains and track workers. The technology will alert track workers to the presence of an approaching train and will stop the train if the workers do not acknowledge receipt of the alert.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will receive $4.2 million to install and demonstrate Bombardier’s TrackSafe system along six miles of MARTA’s rail system to improve track worker safety and reduce hazards associated with track inspection, maintenance and repair. The technology will be installed between Medical Center and North Springs stations and will alert track workers to the presence of an approaching train and train operators and control center staff to the specific location of track workers.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, in partnership with multiple public transit providers across the country, will receive $2.3 million to develop and deploy prototype concrete crossties and fastening systems for light rail, heavy rail and commuter rail transit infrastructure to increase the life cycle of critical components and help maintain rail infrastructure in a state of good repair during normal operations and natural disasters.

New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive $3.6 million to research and demonstrate an automated, data-based information collection system to measure and monitor the condition of subway railcar wheels and rail infrastructure to enhance safety, increase energy efficiency and ensure reliable subway service. The system will be tested on MTA’s Flushing (#7) Line.