Eyes on the Road, Head in the Game

Any commuter in Austin can tell you, there are a lot of cars on the road. According to Governing.com, an estimated 8.7 percent  of U.S. households are without cars and in Austin, that number is 6 percent.

Capital Metro operators do an amazing job of navigating the chaos of morning and afternoon traffic, not to mention the maze of construction projects underway across the region. Complicating their daily treks are the number of distracted drivers who see traffic jams as an opportunity to answer a text or squeeze in one more email response.

During National Safety Month, we’d like to offer some tips for our fellow drivers to help them keep their eyes on the road and their head in the game.

  1. Don’t text and drive. This seems like a no-brainer. In 2017, Texas banned texting while driving, but it still happens. People use voice commands  to compose texts as a way to get around that, but it still requires mental focus that could be better spent on driving.
  2. Operate hands-free. Sometimes you need a map to get where you’re going, and you have apps to skirt traffic snarls. But put it in a holder. City ordinance requires you operate your phone hands-free.
  3. Use “do-not-disturb.” Nearly every operating system comes with the option to place the phone in “do-not-disturb” mode when you’re driving. It sends a message to anyone trying to text you, letting them know that you will get back to them once you have stopped. It’s a great feature and one worth using as no text is worth crashing over.
  4. Silence your cell phone. If your phone is your life, silence it when driving. Or better yet, put it out of reach. One glance at a screen or moment scrambling for a phone can have devastating, life-long effects.

It’s imperative to consider your own safety, the safety of those riding with you and those around you every time you get behind the wheel. Everyone you encounter on the road has a lot riding on safety.

Junio Es El Mes Nacional de la Seguridad

Cada junio, el Consejo Nacional de Seguridad alienta a las organizaciones a poner énfasis en reducir las causas principales de lesiones en el trabajo, en la carretera y en nuestros hogares y comunidades. Esto es algo que Capital Metro se dedica a hacer todos los días.

Mucho de esto sucede detrás de cámaras. Nuestro departamento de seguridad ha estado trabajando con todos en Capital Metro para tomar en serio el tema de la seguridad y ha hecho que sea la máxima responsabilidad de todos y cada uno de los empleados y contratistas que trabajan en nuestro sistema. En nuestra industria esto se llama “crear una cultura de seguridad.” Como resultado, la Asociación de Transporte Público de Estados Unidos otorgó el Premio de Oro a Capital Metro por sus esfuerzos de seguridad. Entre estos esfuerzos, estuvo la creación de un equipo de evaluación de peligros que es responsable de identificar y evaluar los peligros potenciales y hacer recomendaciones sobre cómo manejarlos. Otra fue la institución de un sistema de gestión de seguridad que alienta a todos a reportar las áreas de preocupación sobre la seguridad las carreteras y los entornos de trabajo.

Es posible que haya visto los carteles en la parte trasera de nuestros autobuses donde se adaptó un enfoque cómico para no chocar con el autobús. Los carteles mostraban de todo, desde “No golpearias a un autobús con lentes” hasta una foto de un grupo de personas asustadas diciendo “Whoa, Whoa. Este es un autobús. Permanece Atrás”. Puede sonar tonto, pero en realidad redujo los accidentes de la parte trasera de estos vehículos por un 69%. Es posible que también haya visto carteles en los lados de nuestro autobús en honor a los Campeones de Seguridad, empleados cuyo enfoque en la seguridad hizo una gran diferencia en el lugar de trabajo. Eso inspiró a muchos empleados a trabajar aún más para hacer de la seguridad su objetivo número uno.

Es un honor para Capital Metro obtener este reconocimiento, pero muchos de los factores que mantienen a nuestra comunidad a salvo son ustedes. Así que este mes de junio, piense en lo que está haciendo cuando se trata de seguridad. En las próximas semanas compartiremos información sobre lo que puede hacer para mantenerse a salvo en nuestras carreteras y alrededor de los autobuses y trenes de Capital Metro. Trabajemos todos juntos para hacer que nuestras carreteras y aceras sean aún más seguras, no solo en junio, sino durante todo el año.

Heads up! It’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted-Driving

Capital Metro wants Austin drivers to know April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. All month we’ll be raising awareness about distracted driving behaviors and potential consequences while providing helpful tips to stay safe.

We will highlight examples of the three most common types of distracted driving; cognitive, manual and visual, and offer tips to avoid these risky behaviors. As drivers, we must be aware of our behaviors to prevent and avoid accidents and strive to always act responsibly when behind the wheel. Traffic deaths and injuries are no joke.

Numerous accidents are caused by unnecessary distractions like texting, talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup or simply daydreaming. Don’t put yourself or someone else at risk when you’re behind the wheel. Take this month to pledge to become a better driver. Stay tuned for our weekly blogs with information and tips on ways to prevent distracted driving.

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

Happy and Safe Juneteenth 2013

BCD 13063A Juneteenth web graphicJuneteenth* weekend is a wonderful time of family and community celebration.

Austin’s annual Juneteenth Parade and Celebration hosted by the Greater East Austin Youth Association (GEAYA) takes place on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The parade route starts at 10am on MLK and Comal, and ends at Rosewood and Chestnut.

MetroRail, Capital Metro’s commuter rail with 9 stops between Downtown Austin and Leander, runs through a portion of Rosewood Park. The parade ends before the railroad crossing, and with a mix of physical barriers and personnel staffing, our security, safety, and community involvement teams work closely with the City of Austin, Austin Police Department and others to ensure celebration participants have safe passage as they travel to/from the parade route to festivities at Doris Miller and Rosewood Park.

Continue reading “Happy and Safe Juneteenth 2013”

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

Safe Passing for Austin’s Cyclists

Capital Metro has partnered with the Austin Police Department, The City of Austin and BeKindtoCyclists.org this month to promote bicycle safety during National Bike Month.

We’re sharing this bike safety video with our bus operators. Take a look below and keep these tips in mind for those (rare) occasions when you drive versus taking Capital Metro.

Commuting cyclist? Check out our bike+transit safety tips:

  • Always approach the bus from the curb. Never ride around to the front of a bus from the street side.
  • Please don’t wait in the street with your bike as the bus approaches.
  • Before stepping in front of the bus to load your bike, make eye contact with the bus operator.
  • Always load and unload your bicycle directly in front of the bus, or from the curb.
  • After unloading your bike, never cross in front of the bus! Wait until it has left the stop.

Capital Metro Partners with Restore a Voice for F1

The checkered flags are ready and tickets to the race are sold out as Formula 1 races into Austin this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, bringing in a record number of visitors to Central Texas.

But, local organization, Restore a Voice says the international stage also brings an elevated threat of human trafficking this week.

To raise awareness, Restore a Voice has partnered with Capital Metro to bring six of these ads to the public:

1 Formula 4 Freedom. Racing to Stop Human Trafficking.
If you’re looking to pay for company we’re already booked you a room.

And 50 of these, viewable inside Capital Metro buses:

All ads will be up through December 31.

Larry Megason, executive director of Restore a Voice told us that he hopes folks seeing the ads will gain awareness of the human trafficking is happening in Austin, even during Formula 1.

Larry Megason, Restore a Voice executive director

“We hope that it will drive people to our website where they can get some information about (human trafficking) that is happening in our city and globally,” Megason said. “There is an issue in our city and we want people to know about it.”

As listed on the ads, the U.S. National Human Trafficking hotline is available at 888.373.7888

Be a Night Owl on New Year’s Eve

Looking to revel downtown on New Year’s Eve this year? Capital Metro, in partnership with the Austin Police Department, wants to help you ring in the new year safely, and we’re offering FREE Night Owl service on New Year’s Eve.

Ride a regular local bus to downtown that night for $1, and catch a free return ride via one of six Night Owl bus routes, which begin service at midnight and run til after 3 a.m. Catch one of these buses at 6th and Congress, with service to neighborhoods throughout town.

This means your transportation costs for New Year’s Eve can max out at a mere $1–the cost of a one-way fare via Capital Metro’s regular local routes. Yes! No parking fees, no circling the block looking for a meter, and no worrying about the dangers of being out on the road that night.

You can plan your trip with our online trip planner, and check out the Night Owl maps, too, to see if our late night service will work for you.

APD is stepping up its DWI enforcement. Don’t chance it! If you’re flying late on New Year’s, get on the Night Owl.

Moment of Remembrance

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Capital Metro is joining many other transit authorities throughout the nation to observe a moment of remembrance to honor those who died as a result of those attacks.  At precisely 12 noon on Sunday, all Capital Metro buses and MetroAccess vehicles will pull over and observe a moment of silence, and we invite riders to participate as well.

Our President/CEO Linda S. Watson said,  “America changed on Sept. 11, 2001, and the transportation industry changed along with it. On Sunday we will give our customers and employees an opportunity to honor those who lost their lives and remind everyone that we all play an important role in keeping our communities safe by reporting any suspicious activity.”

A lot of things have changed since 9/11. One of the many programs initiated at the national level after 9/11 is Transit Watch, a program started by the Federal Transit Administration in 2003. It’s basically Neighborhood Watch on wheels (or rails): the program encourages the active participation of transit passengers and employees in maintaining a safe transit environment. Transit Watch also helps foster the role of transit as a safe haven in communities across the country. Continue reading “Moment of Remembrance”