President Post: Safety Campaign

In The Know
April 13, 2012 / By / Post a Comment

Light rail and commuter trains, like the A-train, link cities and suburbs, provide alternatives to congested highways, offer more affordable travel options, and lead to a cleaner, more sustainable quality of life. With higher fuel prices and the increasing demand for transit options, public transportation ridership in North Texas and across the nation continues to grow. Even with the growth in ridership and expansion of rail transit, public transportation remains one of the safest modes of travel.

With the increased use of our systems, DCTA and the passenger rail industry must remain diligent in our efforts to promote safety. To demonstrate our continued commitment to safety, the Denton County Transportation Authority, in partnership with the Trinity Railway Express, Operation Lifesaver and Herzog Transit Services, Inc., has launched a regional rail safety campaign. “Consider the Impact” uses powerful statistics and everyday objects to underscore the consequences of unsafe activities around rail crossings, along railroad tracks and at rail platforms. This free outreach program offers motorists, pedestrians and communities critical rail safety education to keep them safe around trains, at rail crossings and along railroad rights of way.

Our campaign presents rail safety information in a way that people of all ages can relate to and understand the importance of making smart decisions around rail corridors. We ask that you consider the impact before driving around activated gates in an attempt to “beat” a train. We hope that you will consider the consequences of trespassing in an active rail corridor. We hope that you will understand the ramifications that unsafe decisions could have on you, your family and your community.  The safety of our passengers, our operators and the general public is paramount to us at DCTA, and this campaign is just one tool we use to advance our goal of operating a safe, efficient transit system.

The campaign includes multiple media tactics such as print, social media, direct mail and a kid’s poster contest. DCTA will combine this new campaign with its existing “Rail Ready” activities focused in the local school districts and expand the message to reach audiences of all ages. You can participate by scheduling a rail safety presentation for your group or by attending our free community-wide “Rail Ready” safety presentation on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Denton Transit Center.

In addition to launching this marketing and educational campaign, DCTA is working with local law enforcement and the Federal Railroad Administration to identify enforcement and engineering strategies to discourage trespassing along the corridor and traffic safety violations at the rail crossings.

While this new campaign highlights the importance of rail safety in a unique and memorable way, promoting safety has and will continue to be our priority seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Prior to opening the A-train, DCTA invested a significant amount of time and money into creating a corridor that advances safety and discourages unsafe activity. Most of the 43 rail crossings eliminate the ability for motorists to bypass lowered rail gates. DCTA has conducted numerous safety education presentations reaching over 10,000 individuals. The agency also formed a Fire Life Safety Committee, working with local law enforcement and other first responders on rail safety and enforcement along the corridor.

Public transit remains the safest mode of transportation. But we, as a community, need to be vigilant to maintain that high level of safety. Increased enforcement efforts and use of engineering applications can enhance safety, but in the end, all people need to understand that trespassing on a railroad’s right of way or ignoring active warning devices at a crossing are illegal practices that could have tragic consequences. Help us communicate the importance of rail safety. Consider the impact of your actions and the actions of others. Trains cannot swerve and cannot stop quickly. But they can be a great way to get to work, school and other popular destinations.

Safe Travels,
Jim Cline

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