The mass transit systems in San Diego, CA; Baltimore, MD; and Cleveland, OH took top safety and security honors in the 2017 Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognize public transportation organizations for their innovative and proactive safety and security programs. It also provides value to the industry by benchmarking successful programs so other public transit systems can adopt them and derive similar benefits.
Nominations are evaluated on four criteria: effectiveness, benefit level, innovation, and transferability. The top honor is the GOLD Award, which is given to organizations with the best overall bus safety or bus security program. A Certificate of Merit is given to organizations in recognition of exceptional achievement in safety or security.
The 2017 Bus Safety & Security Excellence Award winners are awarded in three categories, which are based on annual ridership.
Bus systems with 20 million or more passenger trips annually
Safety Excellence Awards:
• GOLD Award for Safety – San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA – San Diego MTS created an effective Safety First "Pause, Focus, Look" campaign to increase pedestrian safety. In addition, the agency utilized technology and equipment to assist bus operators in recognizing pedestrians, and purchased enhanced camera systems to improve safety and training. Overall, preventable pedestrian accidents were reduced to zero in the last nine months of 2016. All preventable accidents were reduced to one per 100,000 miles driven in 2016.
• Certificate of Merit for Safety – Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Transit Administration implemented a new bus turn alert system to reduce pedestrian accidents. By 2016 there was a large increase in the number of buses purchased equipped with this turn alert system, and this system is having a positive effect on the decreased number of pedestrian accidents as well as public awareness.
• Certificate of Merit for Safety – Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), Cleveland, OH – GCRTA teamed with Lynx DriveCam to promote more responsible bus/paratransit operating habits and to gather information on safe driving behaviors. GCRTA implemented a Safety Management System-based approach with a matrix-based program that identifies the most at-risk behaviors and helps to avoid accidents. Through the implementation of this program, the number of claims and the number of safety events went down from 1,557 to 957 and 1,249 to 782 from 2014 to 2016.
Security Excellence Awards:
• Certificate of Merit for Security and Emergency Response – Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago, IL – The Chicago Transit Authority partnered with the Chicago Fire Department to conduct a "First Responder" training initiative. Over the course of 10 weeks, more than 1,100 Fire Department personnel attended a one-day class at the CTA to learn about bus/rail equipment and associated hazards. From 2013 to 2015 there were only 138 personnel trained and in 2016 the number increased to 1,100. The training was very successful, and now many more Fire Department personnel are familiar with the hazards, potential emergencies, and security issues associated with the CTA system.
Bus Systems with more than 4 million and fewer than 20 million passenger trips annually
Safety Excellence Awards
• GOLD Award for Safety – Greater Bridgeport Transit (GBT), Bridgeport, CT – Over the past five years, Greater Bridgeport Transit developed a toolbox of approaches to address preventable accidents. These include a restructuring of the operations supervision department and an increased investment in operator training. Further, the new position of Manager of Safety Training was filled, training was enhanced in the operations division, and the agency began a program of in-service reviews. These efforts resulted in a 47% decrease in the preventable accident rate, a major decrease in large loss claims, and a decrease in collision claims from $60,047 in 2012 to $16,943 in 2016.
• Certificate of Merit for Safety – Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO – KCATA conducted an overall review of its bus fleet and added new training technologies, updated to a new, safer chemical for cleaning bus floors, and issued a directive that all passengers with mobility issues must be seated before a bus continues to drive. KCATA's number of passenger claims went down 57% and accidents involving a slip, trip or fall went down 76% from 2014 to 2016.
Security Excellence Awards
• GOLD Award for Security – Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, MO – KCATA developed a strategic business plan addressing safety, security, and risk management. The plan identified 22 core programs and performance measures that would serve as best practices for improving safety and security at KCATA, including the reduction of operator assaults and an increased police presence. Some of the other efforts undertaken by the agency include increased training and safety equipment and the utilization of a pink "breast cancer awareness" bus to create a calming presence of operators and police. These policies have resulted in a 47% decrease in operator assaults and a decrease of 69% in claims paid out in 2016.
• Certificate of Merit for Security – Southwest Ohio Transit Authority (Metro), Cincinnati, OH – Metro conducted a "Back to School" Program to ensure the safety and security of students and employees. They provided security-related training to operators and created a partnership with the local Cincinnati Public Schools. This program also included outreach to parents and proactive policing. The "Back to School" program reduced disorderly activity on buses, reduced bullying, and arrests went down significantly from 25 in 2014 to 10 in 2016.
• Certificate of Merit for Security – Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, Dayton, OH – Greater Dayton RTA created the "See Something, Say Something, Do Something" campaign to reduce vandalism and created awareness messaging across the agency. This resulted in an improvement across the system and a 35% decrease in vandalism and incidents across the board. In addition, the campaign resulted in 21 fewer incidents of broken windows and a net savings of $16,800.
Bus Systems with fewer than 4 million passenger trips annually
Safety Excellence Award:
• GOLD Award for Safety – Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) – BJCTA went about implementing a Safety Management System-based program by establishing an increased safety culture at the agency, decreasing preventable accidents, establishing a reward system for operators that achieved safety goals, and bringing in insurance companies to assist with achieving goals. Even without dedicated state funding for transit, BJCTA utilized innovative techniques to achieve its goals such as providing a breakfast to operators that could go three months without an accident and utilizing the local insurance company to provide gift cards to the safest operators. Overall, the fixed route and paratransit accident rates went down from 2.0% and 1.3% in 2015 to 1.5% and 0.88% in 2016.