APTA names safety and security winners; BART takes Rail Rodeo honors

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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The winning BART team in front of a Maryland MTA locomotive, at the yard where the competition was held. Left to right: Train Operators John O’Connor, Jr., and Tenikia Jackson and Shop Maintainers James Moon, Michael Gross and Gary Crandell.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized winners of its annual Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards and named the team from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) as the winner of the International Rail Rodeo.

Winners of APTA’s Safety & Security Excellence Awards, which recognizes rail systems in North America for their excellence in safety and security programs and operations, were honored during a ceremony June 12 as part of the 2017 APTA Rail Conference in Baltimore, Md.

“These are the professionals who make us proud to be members of the public transportation family,” said APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes. “Keeping our riders, employees and communities safe is the most important thing we do every day. Their accomplishments are what make a safe rail public transit industry even safer.”

“This year’s winners show that the industry is continuing to innovate as we make riding on rail public transit safe and secure,” said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “These best practices are the best of the best and contribute to the fact that traveling by rail is among the safest way to travel.”

Category: Gold Awards Heavy Rail

GOLD Award for Safety – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Atlanta, GA – MARTA improved employee and contractor safety on the right-of-way, and the agency produced an enhanced version of the Wayside Access Procedure manual/Standard Operation Procedures. Since 2001, MARTA has not had any employee or contractor fatalities on the right of way.

GOLD Award for Security – Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Los Angeles, CA – LA Metro developed a Transit Homeless Action Plan which served as the guide to improve safety for passengers and employees and coordinated outreach and engagement efforts towards the homeless. LA Metro established a 24 hour, 7 day a week hotline that aligned with the “Peace Over Violence” program created by the LA Sheriff’s Department and a non-profit.

Category: Gold Awards Light rail/Streetcar

GOLD Award for Safety – Metro Transit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN – Metro Transit executed a comprehensive public outreach and engineering program to enhance pedestrian safety around its light rail lines. The initiative included billboards, on-board and platform advertisements, social media advertisements that collectively reached more than 2 million people. Flashing train headlights and new cautionary signals at grade crossings were also implemented. The number of pedestrian collisions was cut in half in the year following the combined efforts, and operators reported significantly less use of the emergency brake.

GOLD Award for Security – Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Baltimore, MD – MTA used data to analyze crime and specifically fare evasions and the MTA Police Force has increased the issuance of citations for fare evasion since 2014 by 109 percent. The highly visible activity of fare evasion enforcement contributed to a reduction in serious crime by 43 percent%.


Heavy Rail

Certificate of Merit for Safety – Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Cleveland, OH – GCRTA implemented an Emergency Pantograph Lowering System that helps saves lives by keeping the Train Operator out of unnecessary danger, as well as lowering the cost of claims, repair and maintenance to heavy rail vehicles.

Light rail/Streetcar

Certificate of Merit for Safety – San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA – The MTS implemented “Trolley Renewal” which is a State of Good Repair program that increased their system’s safety and reliability. Due to the program, there was a 50% reduction in liability claims, injuries related to vehicle boardings were eliminated, and zero roadway incidents occurred involving trains or track equipment.

Certificate of Merit for Security – Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA – The VTA conducted a Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) in collaboration with TSA. This contributed to their successful crowd management, which allowed VTA to safely and securely transport spectators to events at Levi’s Stadium, which included Super Bowl 50.

In order to win the Rail Transit Team Achievement Award at the International Rail Rodeo, the BART team had to demonstrate top mechanical and electrical skills in various categories.

APTA says the Operators Competition measures professional skills, including train operation, knowledge of safety regulations, train equipment and track right-of-way rules and procedures. Rick Fredriksz and Pedro Diaz, on behalf of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, won first place in the Operators Competition while Tenikia Jackson and John O’Connor of BART placed second. The team of Logan Packer and Tom Claxton of The Utah Transit Authority took third-place honors.

In the Maintainers Competition, participants are evaluated on their ability to troubleshoot maintenance problems. The BART team of Mike Gross, Gary Crandell and James Moon were named winners in this category. The Valley Metro team of Michael Dechant, Luke Aboud and Alex Caron placed second. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority maintainer team of Ezequiel Garcia, Marcos Martinez and Parker Rounds won third place.

BART issued a statement that said, “The rodeo is about pride in one’s craftsmanship and about teamwork but, above all, about keeping BART the best at safety and reliability.”


Categories: Commuter/Regional, Intercity, OFF Track Maintenance, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Safety/Training