Monday, July 20, 2009

Message from the Council Chair

Metro Transit has a strong safety record

Two men are mugged at a light-rail transit stop on Father’s Day. A bus is involved in a collision with a bicyclist. A transit passenger is shot by gang members.
Not surprisingly, these kinds of incidents tend to make the news. However, they paint a misleading picture about how safe our transit system actually is and how hard our Metro Transit employees work to keep it that way.
Bus and rail operators have low accident rates
Let’s talk first about accidents, as recorded by the National Transit Data Base. In 2007, our light-rail line experienced 52 accidents per 10 million miles of service, compared with 149 accidents per 10 million miles for light-rail systems across the nation.
That same year, our bus system recorded 26 accidents per 10 million miles, compared with 66 accidents per 10 million miles for all bus systems across the nation. Moreover, we have seen a steady decline in the Metro Transit accident rate since 1999.
Each year, we recognize transit operators for their safe driving. Over the last five years, we have honored 106 operators who have gone 25 years or more without causing a single accident. During a 25-year period, the typical driver logs 750,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of 30 trips around the world!
This is especially impressive when you consider that our transit operators are continually challenged by traffic congestion, adverse weather conditions, roadway construction and risk-taking behavior by the traveling public.
Our strong safety record is the result of careful hiring, good rules and procedures, proper training, thorough accident investigations, appropriate corrective actions and regular recognition of outstanding operator performance.
Security measures result in reduced crime
Meanwhile, we have beefed up our Metro Transit Police force and stepped up our security efforts – both at problem transit stops and on board our buses. In 2008, uniformed officers rode buses an average of 1,519 hours a month, up from 270 hours a month in 2006.
We also are in the process of retrofitting our fleet with newer, multi-camera security systems. These systems have six cameras with high-quality lenses recording in color onto high-capacity digital video recorders. All of our new buses will come equipped with this technology, which greatly enhances our ability to identify, arrest and prosecute offenders.
Thanks to these efforts, we achieved a 24% reduction in crime between 2006 and 2008. We’ve also seen a reduction in operator assaults – from 34 in 2006 to 19 in 2008. And Metro Transit Police have aggressively pursued the offenders. We want the word on the street: If you commit a crime on our transit system, you will be apprehended.
We are strongly committed to preventing traffic accidents and combating crime. Nothing is more important than the safety and security of our transit customers and employees.
Peter Bell
July 2009

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