One of the education outreach efforts we’ve been conducting is in-school rail safety education for students, teachers, and parents at schools within a two-mile radius of the Red Line. To date, we’ve reached out to more than 33,000 students in Central Texas. Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting to approximately 600 students, staff and parents at Webb Middle School, which is close to the Crestview and Highland rail stations. While this is definitely one of the largest groups I’ve presented to, it was wonderful to see the excitement students and teachers have for MetroRail. From interacting with students, it was great to hear that many of them currently ride Capital Metro buses.
Having lived and grown up immediately adjacent to our Red Line in East Austin near 5th & Comal, I intimately understand that the only trains many of the kids have seen is the slower moving, loud freight trains that one can hear from as far away as a quarter mile, and many do not fully understand the dangers- as I didn’t growing up- of walking down the tracks or being in the rail right-of-way.
I take these presentations to heart, and that is why it is critically important that during our interactive presentations we communicate the message that MetroRail trains are quieter and moving faster than freight trains. Always obey the signs and signals at rail crossings!
As Central Texas prepares for its first passenger rail service line from Austin to Leander, Capital Metro has been proactive in reaching out to communities along the Red Line to educate and inform them on rail safety. Capital Metro is the first transit agency in the nation to establish an innovative rail safety curriculum. We clearly understand that there are many places of work, worship, education, and play that are very near the tracks.
Capital Metro’s rail safety community outreach has been an ongoing campaign for two years, including school and workplace presentations, collaborations with both the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and the Boy Scouts of America Capitol Area Council, a locally-produced PSA that is heard on TV & radio, as well as on every AISD school bus, and the creation of a nationally-recognized rail safety Web site, stayoffthetracks.com. Capital Metro and a community-based volunteer coalition called GROW (Grassroots Rail Outreach Working group) have worked together to make rail safety a priority and coordinate with community groups, governmental entities and businesses to get involved in helping spread the rail safety message. Many of you may know my colleague Alissa Schram, our community rail safety liaison, who has been working with GROW since its inception.
Stay safe out there!