APTA Recognizes Safety Excellence, Releases Post-Pandemic Travel Report

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Fort Worth, Texas-based Trinity Metro has earned an APTA excellence award for COVID-19 response. The agency owns and operates the 27-mile TEXRail line (pictured), which debuted in January 2019.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Trinity Metro has earned an APTA excellence award for COVID-19 response. The agency owns and operates the 27-mile TEXRail line (pictured), which debuted in January 2019.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has announced the honorees of its 2021 Bus and Rail Safety, Security and COVID Response Excellence Awards, and published a new transit agency report on pandemic response, trends and the path forward.

The APTA excellence awards “recognize public transit providers for their innovative and proactive safety and security programs” that can serve as benchmarks for the industry, the association reported. Nominations were evaluated on four criteria: effectiveness, benefit level, innovation and transferability.

And the rail honorees are:

COVID Response, Gold Award:
• Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (Cleveland, Ohio), Heavy Rail mode
• Trinity Metro (Fort Worth, Texas), Commuter/Intercity Rail mode
• San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (San Diego, Calif.), Light Rail/Streetcar mode

COVID Response, Certificate of Merit:
• San Bernadino County Transportation Authority (San Bernadino, Calif.), Commuter/Intercity Rail mode
• Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston, Texas), Light Rail/Streetcar mode

Safety Excellence, Gold Award:
• MTA Metro-North Railroad (New York, N.Y.), Commuter/Intercity Rail mode
• Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston, Mass.), Light Rail/Streetcar mode

Safety Excellence, Certificate of Merit:
• New Jersey Transit Corporation (Newark, N.J.), Commuter/Intercity Rail mode
• New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (New Orleans, La.), Light Rail/Streetcar mode

Security Excellence, Gold Award:
• Sacramento Regional Transit District (Sacramento, Calif.), Light Rail/Streetcar mode
• Société de transport de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec), Heavy Rail mode

APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas

“Congratulations to the public transit systems and private management companies being recognized as models of excellence for the industry,” APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas said. “Their work provides a blueprint that can be implemented in systems nationwide and shows the ongoing commitment to improving safety and security for their passengers, employees and communities in the public transportation industry.”

APTA’s new report, On the Horizon: Planning for Post-Pandemic Travel, examines how demographic, employment and travel trends may change in the coming years (download below).

Based on research collected from operators, a nationwide survey of staff, and detailed case studies of five agencies—RTC Transit System in Richmond, Va.; Los Angeles (Calif.) Metro; Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pa.); Denver (Colo.) Regional Transportation District; and Spokane (Wash.) Transit Authority—four recommendations were developed. They are:

1. “Institutionalize Best Practices From the COVID-19 Period
• “Develop partnerships with existing labor and ramp up hiring for more operators and mechanics.
• “Improve community engagement to both share and gather information.
• “Establish efforts to address potential material shortages.
• “Expand sanitation measures for both public health and ride quality.

2. “Plan and Operate More Effectively in Prioritizing Social Equity
• “Redefine transit success beyond ridership measurements.
• “Identify people and communities with inequitable access to opportunity.
• “Reallocate resources toward underserved neighborhoods and essential workplaces.
• Consider adapting services to different needs on different days of the week and different times of the day.
• “Harness these lessons to improve capital planning programs
• “Realign existing services to best meet the needs of the traveling public.
• “Provide opportunities for meaningful involvement in decision making by all.

3. “Leverage Opportunities to Expand Ridership
• “Focus on opportunities to make transit a good choice for everyone.
• “Expand education on how to pay for transit and consider identifying new fare discounts to expand ridership.
• “Increase efforts to link transit service with equitable transit-oriented development.
• “Develop engaged, long-term relationships with other government entities.

4. “Keep Abreast of Changing Trends
• “Respond to telecommuting trends and increases in automobile traffic.
• “Plan for changes in market demand central-city areas.
• “Anticipate increased development in suburban communities.
• “Respond to concerns about spreading infections from COVID-19 or future pandemics.”

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