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Awards Bus Safety

Bus operator training efforts receive national recognition 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Friday, May 11, 2018 9:57:00 AM

Metro Transit’s efforts to improve safety through repeated and enhanced operator training have earned national accolades.

The American Public Transportation Association awarded Metro Transit with a Certificate of Merit at its Bus Safety & Security Awards this week. The awards recognize programs or projects that lead to documented success.

The Certificate of Merit acknowledges a range of training efforts led by the Safety Department, including:

  • > The use of on-board video footage to provoke conversation about avoidable safety incidents among new operators and operators going from part- to full-time. 
  • > Safety conferences with operators for all responsible and non-responsible collisions.
  • > Regularly-scheduled Safety Keys courses, coupled with customized training focused on winter driving, pedestrian and bicycle safety and distracted driving.

“The innovation is not that there is training, but rather that the training takes many forms, and is repeated, data driven, measured and season-specific,” Director of Safety Mike Conlon said.

There were 2.88 collisions for every 100,000 bus passenger miles in 2017, a historic low. The rate is especially notable since nearly half of bus operators have been at Metro Transit less than five years.  

In 2017, Metro Transit earned a Gold Award in APTA’s Rail Safety & Security Awards for outreach efforts related to light rail safety. 

Learn more about other recognition for Metro Transit and its employees

Light Rail Safety

Train operator keeps Rail Rodeo crown 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, April 25, 2018 12:46:00 PM

Metro Transit Train Operator Bill Morris in the cab of a light rail train. After finishing Metro Transit’s Rail Rodeo last Saturday, train operator Bill Morris felt pretty good about his performance.

He had reason to be confident: For the second year in a row, Morris earned the best score in the annual skills competition.

“I knew it was just a matter of how well the other operators had done,” said Morris, who has been a train operator since 2012. “Unlike last year when I was actually surprised that I won.”

Morris will now represent Metro Transit at the American Public Transportation Association’s International Rail Rodeo in Denver, Colo., in June.

Joining him will be fellow operator and relief instructor Paul Gillespie who finished second in the Rail Rodeo. Train operator Peter Mooers finished third.

Morris and Mooers participated in the 2017 International Rail Rodeo, finishing in fourth place.

The local and international competitions include written exams and observations of operators in action. This year’s Rail Rodeo included a new test in which operators had just a few minutes to figure out why a disabled train wouldn’t move.

Morris said he’s looking forward to representing Metro Transit in Denver and competing in future agency Rodeos. And while he's been successful, he's not taking anything for granted. 

“The competition is fierce. Any of our operators can step up,” he said. “I’m not going to take this lightly and will continue to work hard.”

Metro Transit’s annual Bus Roadeo​ has been scheduled for Sept. 15-20 and will be held in the Como Avenue parking lot at the State Fairgrounds. 

Last year’s Roadeo champion, Heywood operator Jack Berner, #8927, will compete this May in the APTA Roadeo in Tampa, Fla. 

Safety

Transit telecommunicators’ role: Reassurance, right response 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:49:00 AM

Supervisors at work in Metro Transit's Transit Control Center.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." -- Mr. Rogers


Officially and across the country, they’re known as public safety telecommunicators. At Metro Transit, they're known as Transit Control Center supervisors. 

And while their work revolves in large part around keeping service on schedule, they also handle public safety calls that come in through 911, on-board alarms or emergency phones at transit stations.

“Because we’re the ones taking the call, we’re the lifeline between the public, who need help, and emergency responders,” TCC Supervisor Chad Ladda said. 

National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week recognizes this work, and the importance of having a reassuring voice at the other end of a potentially terrible phone call. The celebration originated nearly 40 years ago, when public safety telecommunicators were struggling to be recognized.  

In 2017, TCC supervisors received more than 20,000 public safety calls. Their call volume has steadily risen over the years as the region’s transit system has grown. Calls can come from anywhere throughout the seven-county metro region.

Many of the calls are initiated not by individuals but by police officers and operators who have been trained to be vigilant and proactive observers. In some cases, these observations have little to do with transit itself. 

TCC supervisor Heather Gravink recalled a recent situation in which a bus operator saw an eight-year-old boy walking barefoot in his pajamas. The operator called the TCC and Gravink contacted police, who safely returned the boy to a family member’s home.

“In that moment, it didn’t matter if the bus was late,” Gravink said. “It was about taking care of a child who really needed it and getting the best possible outcome.”

Getting the right outcome also means taking every call seriously. Seemingly harmless situations could turn out to be much more consequential or even life threatening. For instance, someone who appears to be asleep may actually need immediate medical attention.

“A person’s life could hang in the balance based on my response to them,” TCC Supervisor Todd Messer said.

While the work can be stressful, TCC supervisors have become adept at staying calm and patient, reassuring whoever’s on the other end of the line while ensuring emergency responders have all the information they need.

“It’s our job to make sure everyone – customers, cops, medics, whoever it is – goes home at the end of the day," Gravink said. 

Story by Chris Cantoni, who is one of three communications specialists in the Transit Control Center. TCC communications specialists create and send Rider Alerts, provide service updates on social media and coordinate responses to customers using the new Text for Safety service.

Ridership Safety Transit Police

Transit Police make arrests in recent wave of cell phone thefts 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Wednesday, November 29, 2017 11:30:00 AM

Metro Transit police officers have arrested 11 suspects for committing a bold crime of stealing cell phones from riders’ hands. Four of the suspects have been charged with felony theft and are facing thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years in prison. More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

Over the past month, cell phone theft has increased significantly, with more than 30 victims reporting the robberies to transit police. This is the most significant rash of thefts since a federal investigation into cell phone robberies led to several arrests a few years ago.

Transit Control Center Supervisors on police dispatch gathered key information about the suspects from distraught victims and pulled video of the crime. In many cases, within minutes of receiving the victim's call, police dispatch forwarded the suspects' identifying information to transit officers, who in turn spotted the suspects - out of thousands of people - while conducting fare checks.

Officers were able to return several of the phones to their owners. Some victims received their stolen phones within a few hours of being robbed. "The recovery of victims' phones, containing valuable personal information, especially one belonging to a blind victim, is priceless," said Capt. Michael LaVine.

Riders are reminded this holiday season to be aware of their surroundings and take care with their phones. Electronics are a target for thieves, especially near vehicle doors, and should be tucked away while riding. Calls should be brief and quiet.

Riders should call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Or, if anyone has a tip about a crime on transit, they are encouraged to call Transit Police at 612.349.7222.

Find more smart riding tips on our Security on Transit page.

Rider Information Safety

Safety tips for pub-crawling zombies 

Posted by Marisa Helms | Friday, October 13, 2017 12:20:00 PM

Here's how to have fun and stay undead with Metro Transit during the Zombie Pub Crawl in downtown Minneapolis this Saturday, October 14.

You can join the apocalyptic mob by taking one of Metro Transit's many bus and rail options. And, once you're downtown where the beer and brains are flowing, please remember these tips:

  • > When refreshing fake blood throughout the evening, please keep it on your own flesh and off the streets, buses, rail cars and platforms. Cleaning it up after you’re gone really bites.
     
  • > A couple more notes about the bloody business of being a zombie: If we see zombie blood on a transit vehicle, we may have to suspend service, and therefore delay the undead from the festivities. Nobody wants that. And, here's a thought: Why not buy an All-Day Pass via Metro Transit's zombie-friendly app? This will keep your bloody hands off the ticket machines.
     
  • > As the zombie in you shuffles and moans through the streets of downtown, make sure to stay clear of the light rail tracks and only use pedestrian crossings.
     
  • > No brain stealing at bus stops and rail platforms. Zombie horseplay at bus stops and on the platform is dangerous - especially near moving trains.

Have fun and stay undead!

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