Best Practices: Passenger Rail Safety
One Transit System's Secrets for Success: Games, Videos and Multilingual Messaging
Sound Transit's Carol Doering is an Operation Lifesaver presenter.
“Sound Transit's partnership with Operation Lifesaver is nothing new,” says Carol Doering, Sound Transit community outreach specialist for safety. “We've been using OL since we began operating light rail in 2003 because public rail education helps reduce incidents.”
Across America, public light rail systems are joining Operation Lifesaver in providing rail safety education to keep people safe around trains and rail crossings. Programs like New Jersey Transit's rail safety courses for teen drivers, Atlanta's Rapid Transit Authority pedestrian rail safety awareness initiatives and an aggressive rail safety campaign prior to the launch of Capital Metro in Austin, TX, are helping to reduce the likelihood of incidents — people or vehicles colliding with trains — on our nation’s rapidly expanding passenger light rail systems.
In Seattle, WA, one passenger rail safety outreach program is successfully meeting geographical and population growth challenges that have led to healthy ridership increases. Sound Transit, which operates Link, the state's first light rail system, runs regional transit systems that improve mobility for the diverse, densely populated Puget Sound area. Carol Doering, Sound Transit’s community outreach specialist for safety, credits the light rail line with helping people value passenger and light rail as a safe, reliable and affordable transportation choice. Early partnering with Operation Lifesaver reinforced Sound Transit's safety program, making public/private support, and growth, possible; in the three years since its 2009 debut, Link ridership climbed from 12,600 to an average 26,000 weekday riders daily.
A Link light rail train.
Employing a unique combination of presentation devices — including a youth-directed web site (http://www.zaponboard.com/), games, videos, and materials offered in 12 languages —Doering delivers targeted passenger rail safety messages to kids and other key audiences. She connected with teens at an alternative school who thought rail safety messages had little to do with them by showing Sound Transit's powerful video, Don’t Become a Train Wreck (http://projects.soundtransit.org/Riding-Sound-Transit/Train-Safety-video.xml).
Using Operation Lifesaver's rail safety education model, Doering has shared Sound Transit's successful outreach programs with other passenger light rail systems, including those in Phoenix, AZ, and Portland, OR. “I'm most proud of the fact that I've been able to reach so many people and provide knowledge of how our urban areas can share the road with trains safely,” says Doering. “What I'm doing makes a difference.”