Railroad Safety Teams, MTAPD Host Community Outreach Events at Stations
Efforts Coordinated With International Railroad Crossing Safety Day
MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA Metro-North Railroad today held community outreach events to raise awareness on the importance of railroad crossing safety. LIRR and Metro-North safety ambassadors along with MTAPD officers held community outreach events at nearly 20 stations and railroad crossings. Safety personnel educated customers on what grade crossing safety is and the steps they could take to ensure their safety and the safety of their fellow commuters. The events are part of the 13th annual multi-nation railroad crossing safety initiative known as International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD).
In addition to holding outreach events at stations, crews placed posters with QR codes that link to the Operation Lifesaver website and Metro-North's dedicated webpage at stations on each railroad to provide customers an easily accessible educational tool to help them learn the importance of grade crossing safety.
Members of LIRR’s Corporate Safety team and MTA Police Explorers were at the Deer Park station educating customers and promoting LIRR getaway packages to promote riders to return to the railroad. Other members of LIRR’s safety team were at Farmingdale, Bethpage, Syosset and Island Park stations holding similar outreach events.
Metro-North's System Safety ambassadors and MTAPD held outreach events near grade crossings at Bethel and Brewster station, and were joined by a special guest at Peekskill station, the railroad’s popular mascot, Metro-Man. Additional outreach efforts were held at 10 stations on Metro-North's East of Hudson stations: New Haven, Bridgeport, South Norwalk, Stamford, New Rochelle, White Plains, Fordham, Harlem-125th Street, Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie.
“Grade crossing safety has always been a top priority, and, with Long Island’s reopening progressing, it is vital to give returning riders a refresher on its importance,” said Phil Eng, LIRR President. “This further demonstrates the commitment of our staff and our colleagues at MTAPD to further educate riders, and the public at large about safe practices and invaluable measures that we must all take when traveling.”
“Metro-North Railroad is pleased to support the 13th International Level Crossing Awareness Day. This year’s theme is “distractions,” and the need to avoid distractions is one of our key messages to keep all drivers safe, especially at crossings,” said Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North President.
Among the previous participants in outreach efforts like today is Amdad Hossain, a MTA Police Explorer. The MTAPD’s Explorer program has about 35 participants and is a career-orientated, volunteer program that educates participants on what a career in law enforcement entails, which includes community service. MTA Police Explorers participate in outreach events like railroad crossing safety, Mask Force events and other community outreach efforts. Hossain has been with the program for about two years, but was unable to participate in this year’s ILCAD event after he tragically suffered a brain hemorrhage earlier this year. MTAPD has kept in close contact and visited Hossain and his family, and have set up a GoFundMe to assist in his recovery.
Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Accomplishments
In recent years, the railroads have made major gains on strengthening their grade crossing safety efforts, beyond community education. In Aug. 2020, popular navigation app Waze announced the global rollout of railroad crossing alerts following a successful rollout on LIRR and Metro-North in 2018. The alerts have helped dramatically decrease instances of motorists mistakenly driving onto railroad tracks and is now being adopted by Google Maps.
The LIRR has experienced just three accidental vehicle turning onto tracks since June 2018 after launching a nation-leading program to install flexible delineators at all 294 crossings, and provide GPS alerts through Waze, warning drivers not to turn onto the tracks. The railroad was recognized as an outstanding community partner and industry leader at the international “Waze On” virtual event held on Sept. 15. As part of the LIRR Expansion Project, eight grade crossings have been closed or eliminated along the Main Line, with scheduled for completion by the end of 2022.
Earlier this year, Metro-North was awarded a $19.7 million federal grant to provide critical safety improvements to nine grade crossings on Metro-North's Harlem Line. 100% of Metro-North's 103 grade crossings are represented in the Waze app. Metro-North continues its effort to install delineators at all crossings throughout New York and Connecticut and will have full installation by Summer 2021. Metro-North's TRACKS program was awarded the APTA Gold Safety Award in 2018.