Be Patient and Stay Safe: Vehicle and Pedestrian Rail Safety 

Did you know that, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration, a person or vehicle is struck by a train at a highway rail grade crossing every four hours? Trains can’t stop quickly. A freight train that is traveling 55 miles per hour can take more than a mile to stop, even if an emergency application of the brakes is applied.

 

In 2019, Texas ranked as the state with the most collisions in the U.S. with a total of 251 highway-rail grade crossing collisions. As a result, 31 people lost their lives and 123 were injured. Never try to beat a train! Follow these tips to stay safe and help us reduce the number of incidents at rail crossings:

  • Stop if you see flashing red lights
  • Only cross at a highway-rail grade crossing
  • Only cross if gate arms are up, lights have stopped flashing and bells have stopped ringing

In 2019, the state of Texas also ranked as the state with the second highest pedestrian rail trespassing casualties with a total of 100, out of which 44 lost their lives and 56 resulted in  injuries. If you are walking near a train, remember:

  • Only cross at a designated public crossing. Crossing at any other place is trespassing, illegal and dangerous
  • Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing
  • Only cross if gate arms are up, lights have stopped flashing and bells have stopped ringing
  • Look both ways before crossing tracks

Don’t become part of the statistics. Follow these tips and help us reduce the number of highway-rail grade crossing collisions and trespassing casualties. Remember, be patient and stay safe!

Oct. 31 MetroRail Track Flooding in Pictures

Capital Metro would like to thank all of the patient MetroRail riders who planned their commutes around the disruption in service on Oct. 31 due to heavy flooding. It was a doozy, but our incredible rail operations team was able to work throughout the night, inspecting and repairing all of the sections of track affected to ensure they’d be safe to travel the next day.

Check out some pictures below of the impact and check out this video from local TV station, KXAN, who went on-site to check on our repairs. See it for yourself!

McNeil Merrilltown Xing Towards Abbott

rail

Capital Metro Wins Rail Safety Grant

transit-trainCapital Metro is among eight transit agencies that were awarded Operation Lifesaver (OLI) rail safety project grants. This grant is part of Capital Metro’s ongoing commitment to safety and will enable our agency to further our efforts in keeping safety our top priority.

 

What are our plans for the grant?

We’ll target middle school students, by blitzing them with educational materials, a youth-produced video and a 15-month outreach campaign involving peer mentors and lesson plans for educators, a new website and school outreach events.

“Capital Metro has the highest commitment to safety and is very pleased to receive an Operation Lifesaver Rail Transit Safety Education Grant, which will be used for an innovative, yearlong rail safety education program for middle school students,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson. “This grant affirms our continuing relationship with Operation Lifesaver, and will allow us to partner with Creative Action, the largest provider of after school arts programming in Central Texas, on a totally unique rail safety video that the students themselves will create. Studies show that young people are leaders in public transit usage, and this project will encourage our local students to lead the way in transit safety, as well.”

Read all about Operation Lifesaver and what the other seven agencies will do with their grants at: http://oli.org/news/view/operation-lifesaver-announces-grants-to-eight-transit-agencies

Teens, Who and Where Will You Be this Summer?

Shakespeare wrote:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Haul Pass logo

The summer, the Haul Pass, a new fare card for youth 18 and under, gives teens (and kids) unlimited bus and rail rides all summer long, plus discounts at Go Local partner businesses.

Austin is the stage. The Haul Pass is your ticket. What role will you play?

  • The Professional
    • Heads to a summer job, an internship, or volunteer work.
    • Checks the trip planner on the computer the night before work to plan the day. Always arrives 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.
    • Scans the QR code on the bus stop or texts the cross-streets or Stop ID to Dadnab (512-981-6221) to find out the next departure time
    • Keeps on budget, uses GoLocal discounts for food and well earned entertainment after a hard day at work.
  • The Scholar
  • systemmapcoverThe Explorer
  • The Artist
  • Community Organizer
    • Stays connected. #textingwhileriding
    • Searches newspapers and blogs for calendar listings of guest speakers and author talks and uses the trip planner to figure out how to get from spot to spot.
    • Keeps up with Project Connect (regional partnership exploring high-capacity transit options in Central Texas)
    • Gets friends to carpool to a Park and Ride, then journey together via Capital Metro to Barton Springs, parks and recreation centers, the mall, the movies, etc.
    • Supports local businesses, checking Go Local for businesses near destinations.
    • Convinces a parent into to try riding transit to work for a day, and consider joining a vanpool for commute. Or takes a family outing using the bus or train, like a ride across town for lunch with a grandparent, aunt or uncle.
  • The Athlete
    • An expert on loading a bike onto onboard bikeracks on MetroBus or MetroRailKnows how to do on the spot repairs after having built 2 bikes from scratch for free at Yellow Bike Project.
    • Crosstrains throughout the summer hiking, biking, swimming, boating, jogging and mixing it up with a little frisbee and hula hooping for kicks.
    • Walks to a bus stop or rail station to get that pedometer walking mileage in. 
    • Find lots of businesses on Go Local offering discounts for fitness and wellness, like yoga classes and rock climbing.
    • Explores Town Lake, Zilker Park, Pease Park, the YMCA, Austin Parks and Recreation, and more.
    • Uses the trip planner to figure out the best routes to get to practices, games, and the gym on time.
  • The Environmentalist.

The great thing about being a teen is you can be all these things. No need to permanently decide which route to take. And with unlimited bus and rail trips, you don’t have to.

So where will your Haul Pass take you this summer?

Tweet your adventures #haulpass

Happy Girl Scout Day – March 12

Girl Scout Day celebrates the day the first Girl Scout group was created on March 12, 1912, when Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled 18 girls from Savannah, Georgia for a local meeting. Today, Girl Scouts of the USA has a membership of over 3.2 million girls and adults.

We are especially proud of our local scouts’ role in history. Did you know the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Capital Metro created the Girl Scouts first-ever Rail Safety Patch Program?

ImageTake a lead from the Girl Scouts and educate yourself about how to be safe around railroad tracks. Check out:

Capital Metro conducts Operation Lifesaver (OL) presentations FREE OF CHARGE to schools, community and educational organizations in the Central Texas region. To schedule a presentation, please contact Mr Celso Baez at 512-389-7559.

Have a safe and happy Girl Scout Day and Women’s History Month.

Capital Metro to upgrade rail warning system at six crossings

Capital Metro Rail Operations staff recently completed an assessment of the handful of private crossings along the 32-mile MetroRail Red Line.

Today at the Capital Metro Operations & Planning Committee meeting, VP of Rail Operations Melvin Clark outlined the assessment and our recommendations. The good news is that all of the private crossings meet Capital Metro’s standards.

The better news is that the assessment gives us an opportunity to review and update our standards for private crossings. Melvin reported to the board committee our plans to standardize the private crossings and install flashing light warning signals, as well as pursue closure of several private crossings as part of its ongoing commitment to safety.

We will install flashing warning lights at six private crossings—one per year over the next six years. It costs an estimated $200,000 per crossing to install the lights. Although the Federal Railroad Administration does not require warning lights as private crossings, we’ve programmed these upgrades to enhance safety along the commuter line.

We are also standardizing the crossing surface of each private crossing along the Red Line to asphalt or concrete panels. Three private crossings in the assessment had a gravel (they call it ballast in the railroad industry) crossing surface, which requires more ongoing maintenance depending on the volume of motor vehicle traffic. One of the three private crossings has already been resurfaced with concrete panels, and the remaining two crossings will be resurfaced over the next two months.

Ultimately, it is still up to the driving public to obey public safety and traffic laws. Capital Metro has an ongoing rail safety education program to raise awareness of rail safety issues. This fall, Capital Metro will launch a rail safety campaign to reach rural communities along Capital Metro’s freight railroad. Learn more about rail safety.

Portraits of Freedom: Juneteenth MetroArt

The city is buzzing with excitement as Austin readies itself for the annual Juneteenth celebration.

We are equally excited about the upcoming festivities. Walking and riding in the annual Juneteenth parade has been a tradition of Capital Metro.

To get the bus ready for the parade, we’re inviting Austinites to help us create Portraits of Freedom, a community MetroArt project consisting of hundreds of self-portraits made out of vinyl and installed on a 35-foot bus. Portraits will be created by the general public, 100 students at AISD schools, and Capital Metro operators and staff, in collaboration with the Carver Museum and Cultural Center and Theatre Action Project (TAP).


Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day,” is the oldest known African American celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which declared that all slaves living in states still in rebellion were “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” However, African Americans in Texas were not aware of the proclamation, until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, the commander of U.S. Troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and read General Order 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

On January 1, 1980, a bill was passed making Juneteenth an official Texas state holiday.

Portraits of Freedom honors both the spirit of Juneteenth and the eastside community today. 1865 was a time when one’s identity was oft attempted to be defined by others. Portraiture, by definition, is an artistic representation of a person in a particular moment in time. By creating a portrait in your own image and by your own hand, it is a declaration of having the freedom to define who you are, as you see yourself in that moment in time. Collectively, our portraits define the multifaceted face of our community and city.

The community is invited to join in the MetroArt-making fun this Saturday, June 16, 2012, 12pm to 4pm, as a part of the Carver Museum’s Juneteenth Family Fun Day. Activities, including music, food, games and fun, are FREE and open to the public. For more information on the Family Fun Day, please visit http://www.austintexas.gov/event/juneteenth-carver or call the Carver at 512-974-4926. Look for the Capital Metro bus in the north parking lot, near Kealing Middle School.

Be sure to come see the Portraits of Freedom bus riding in the annual Greater East Austin Youth Association’s Juneteenth parade and celebration on Tuesday, June 19th, 10am to 12pm, For more information on the parade, including the parade route, please visit http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/

We are looking forward to celebrating a happy and safe Juneteenth. With active MetroRail service running throughout the week, please visit www.stayoffthetracks.com to view rail safety reminders for you and your family.

Expanded MetroRail service prompts new look at parades and rail safety

The annual Austin Juneteenth parade, sponsored by the Greater East Austin Youth Association, is right around the corner, Tuesday, June 19. Capital Metro is proud to continue its long-standing participation with the Juneteenth celebration.


This year, for the first time, MetroRail trains will be in full operation during the time of the parade. The parade route has traditionally ended at the Rosewood Park rail crossing, which will see MetroRail trains passing by an average of every 18 minutes on the morning of the parade.  Because the safety of the community is the number one priority for the event organizers and Capital Metro, the parade route will be slightly detoured away from the Rosewood rail crossing.

 Beginning this week, Capital MetroRail trains are traveling just a wee bit faster along the line (15% reduction in travel time from end to end), allowing us to add another morning and evening round trip. With the recent addition of Friday night and Saturday MetroRail service, too, it becomes clear that the community should “always expect a train.”

The Juneteenth parade procession will travel its traditional route heading east on MLK, south on Chicon, and east on Rosewood, and now turn north onto Chestnut, east onto Pleasant Valley and end at New York Drive.

Likewise, the annual Republic of Texas Bike Rally begins this Friday, and up to 20K motorcycles will make their way from the Travis County Expo Center to downtown on Friday evening. The procession route included crossing the Rosewood rail crossing, and we advocated to modify that route as well.

Our city is growing and changing fairly rapidly, and although the decision to modify these long-standing traditional parade routes was not made lightly, it was a necessary decision.

Capital Metro is helping to get the word out about the Juneteenth parade route change. Check out the new route map.

Now would be a great time to review some basic rail safety tips with your family. Here are a few good ones:

  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings
  • Always stop, look both ways and listen for trains before crossing the tracks.
  • Flashing red lights signal that a train is approaching from either direction.
  • Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing.
  • Do not cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing
  • Teach your children the importance of crossing the tracks safely – “Stop, look and listen”.
  • Hold on to your child when a train approaches and when walking across railroad tracks.
  • Walking or biking along railroad tracks is very dangerous and considered trespassing.

We hope to see you at the Juneteenth celebration. Look for the “Portraits of Freedom” bus decorated by neighborhood youth in the parade. Have a safe and happy Juneteenth!

Rail Safety Day

In observance of International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), Capital Metro is once again reminding you to be safe around railroad tracks. Motorists and pedestrians should ALWAYS expect a train along any railroad tracks and obey all warning signals and signs.

ILCAD is being recognized in 40 countries worldwide today with the purpose of increasing the spotlight on railroad crossing safety. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, railroad crossing collisions and pedestrian trespassing on tracks together account for over 95 percent of all railroad fatalities.

Fortunately, there have been no fatalities along the MetroRail corridor. However, we have caught adults and children sitting or walking along the tracks and vehicles not obeying warning signals at crossings, which in one case led to a collision. Watch the video below for a collection of some of these incidents.

Over the past few years, Capital Metro has created a comprehensive rail safety program that has become a national model for other transit agencies. Capital Metro with assistance from the community-based volunteer coalition GROW (Grassroots Rail Outreach Working group) and the national rail safety non-profit organization Operation Lifesaver,  have worked to educate the community on rail safety reaching approximately 75,000 local residents.

If you would like to learn more about rail safety, check out these links:
capmetro.org/MetroRail/Safety.asp
stayoffthetracks.com
oli.org

If you are interested in a presentation for your school, neighborhood, or organization, please contact Alissa Schram at alissa.schram@capmetro.org or (512) 369-7759.