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”

Safety gone wild

Capital Metro’s serious about safety, but things got a little silly this week when our safety manager James Hoskins showed up for morning pullout on Thursday with a bright blue Mohawk  (technically, it was a faux hawk, but still…) to recognize the achievement of a safety milestone.

From L to R: Bus Operators Brenda Moore, Richard Thomas, Annette Kirschbaum, Ken Daniels; Interim Safety Manager James Hoskins; Bus Operators Reggie Dugue, DeAndra Scypion; MetroAccess Van Operator Daniel Rodriguez; Bus Operator Lagretta Landry.

Earlier in August, StarTran drivers (bus, MetroAccess sedan and van) had three full days without an accident. You may not think that is such a big deal, but when you consider just how many thousands of miles Capital Metro travels each day (the majority of which is during rush hour traffic), it is a major achievement.

James had issued a challenge to the workforce sometime last year: if drivers went a full three days without an accident, he’d fashion his hair into a blue Mohawk for a week. They did it, and therefore he did it.

” Capital Metro operators have challenging jobs that require constant attention and focus,” James said. “I promised them a blue Mohawk, and frankly I’m thrilled to be able to follow through with it to recognize their dedication to driving safely.”

Check out a few more photos on Facebook.

Always Be Prepared!

Tonight, Capital Metro and first responders from throughout the area will participate in an emergency drill to test our collective preparedness for dealing with a MetroRail derailment.

A scene from another MetroRail emergency simulation, in January 2009

The scenario goes like this: A MetroRail train derails for unknown reasons on a remote section of track somewhere between Leander and Lakeline stations. Railroad dispatch is unable to reach the engineer. Calls to 9-1-1 (using a back number–not tying up the actual emergency line) begin coming in from people on the train and from people in the closest neighborhood, who have heard the accident. Some of the callers will give conflicting information about the location of the train.

So the first challenge for responders will be pinpointing the exact location of the train, and once found, determining what equipment might be needed to access the vehicle. Since the location of the accident will be in an area where many jurisdictions come together, several different groups will be participating:  city of Austin, Cedar Park, Williamson County, Jollyville,  Travis County and Round Rock. Who’s in charge? They’ll have to establish that, too, and then get to the task at hand of evacuating the train, treating injuries, etc. Continue reading “Always Be Prepared!”

STAY OFF THE TRACKS

Fear, sadness, anger and frustration. Those are just a few of the emotions I feel when I see or hear about children playing on railroad tracks. Take a look at what we saw on the security cameras at Highland Station yesterday:

This little guy had a hard time climbing back onto the platform

 

 

It is NEVER acceptable to play on railroad tracks

 

I won’t elaborate on why this is dangerous and illegal. But if you’re a parent, please think of your own children. Staying safe around railroad tracks is an important lesson for the whole family.

Continue reading “STAY OFF THE TRACKS”

Smooth Operators = Great Insurance Rates

A representative from the Texas Municipal League – Intergovernmental Risk Pool dropped by Capital Metro today to give us an equity return of $140,302 in part due to our efforts to reduce accidents and their associated costs. Our performance over the last year has also resulted in a lowered premium for this year.

Capital Metro Risk Manager Michael Nyren, left, and President and CEO Linda S. Watson, right, accept a $140,302 check from TML-IRP Field Services Representative Linda Dunbar Orrick.

One tool we use to reduce accidents and their associated costs is the DriveCam recording system that is onboard all of our buses and paratransit vans and sedans. The resulting recordings provide accurate eyewitness accounts of what occurred if one of our vehicles is involved in an accident. The recordings are also a great training tool to highlight excellent driving techniques among all of our professional drivers; and, to point out opportunities for improvement when drivers make mistakes behind the wheel. Here’s three examples of DriveCam recordings that show great driving skill and also the value of DriveCam in providing information to investigators after an accident. The drivers highlighted in the video are: Veolia Bus Operator Linda Ruiz and StarTran bus operators Edward Swan and Vincent Moore. I’m glad they are driving the bus!

Pilot program to close 4 Congress Ave. bus stops

This bus stop on Congress at 6th street is one of four that will be closing next month. Will it make Congress safer?

On Nov. 6, four bus stops on Congress will close as part of a pilot program to try to improve travel times and safety on Congress.
Here are the stops:

Northbound, Congress at 6th
Northbound, Congress at 7th
Southbound, Congress at 8th
Southbound, Congress at 7th

Riders of routes 1L/1M, 2, 5, 6, 7, 20, 30, 101, 127, 142, 174, and 990 who board/get off the bus at one of the four stops will find their stops within one or two blocks proximity.

You might be asking, Why, Capital Metro? Why?

Congress Avenue poses many challenges to Capital Metro. There’s a ton of bus traffic (and every other type of traffic) on Congress between Cesar Chavez and 11th Street. Right now there is even more traffic than usual because of the construction on Brazos. A comment was made by a couple of people over here, including CEO Linda S. Watson, that you can sometimes (often? always?) walk down Congress faster than you can ride a bus down Congress. Our buses stop at every block, resulting in “stacking” of the buses.  Continue reading “Pilot program to close 4 Congress Ave. bus stops”

All Eyes (and cameras) on Rail

I always feel like somebody’s watching me (apologies to Rockwell) on MetroRail station platforms.  And I’m glad someone’s watching to help keep things safe and secure.  Capital Metro has a comprehensive system of rail platform security cameras, 38 in all, spread out among the nine rail stations (not mention the 16 internal and external cameras on board each MetroRail vehicle which constantly record).

The platform cameras are monitored 24-hours a day by security staff and rail dispatchers to observe any unusual or unsafe activity; they can send an officer out immediately if needed.  For example, rail dispatchers recently spotted this truck encroaching in the railroad right-of-way near the MLK station:

5-yard penalty for encroachment (and the real penalties and dangers are more severe)

Continue reading “All Eyes (and cameras) on Rail”