June is National Safety Month!

At CapMetro, safety is our core value. The National Safety Council made June national safety month to help us keep each other safe – in the workplace or anyplace. CapMetro wants everyone to be safe while taking transit, driving, walking and riding scooters or bikes.

Data from the National Safety Council shows that Texas roads have become more lethal with a 15% increase in deaths from 2020 to 2021 and an even larger 25% increase in deaths when you compare it to 2019. As more people return to the roads, it’s even more important to practice safe driving.

Pedestrians: Remember to always use the crosswalk. Crossing the street in the middle of the block (without a pedestrian beacon) is illegal, but most of all it’s dangerous. Crosswalks provide you an extra level of protection because drivers expect to see pedestrians at crosswalks but the same is certainly not always true midblock.  Do not use your electronic device while crossing a street.

As you walk or exercise outside, pay attention to your surroundings and traffic. Stay alert and put phones away, make sure you can hear potential warnings from drivers or cyclists.

Drivers: Stay alert and on the lookout for pedestrians, people riding bikes or scooters, and CapMetro vehicles. Please slow down and obey speed limits, respect traffic signs and avoid distractions.

Driving while using an electronic device is against the law. If you need to check a route or make a call, do so before driving or pull over to use your phone. More than 3,000 people every year die nationwide in crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

When you approach railroad crossings, be cautious. Stop, look both ways and listen for a train before crossing. Respect flashing red lights, do not drive around the lowered gate and never stop on the tracks. In the case of an emergency at a railroad crossing, call the number on the blue sign located on the signal.

Remember to also stay alert for buses as they stop for passengers.

Cyclists and scooter riders: Wear a helmet and ride with the flow of traffic. Use bike lanes whenever available, and respect traffic signs and signals. Avoid any distractions such as using your phone or listening to music and podcasts. Stay alert for pedestrians and never use a scooter or bike when impaired.


Transit & Health in Black Communities

Throughout our time talking about Project Connect, we’ve been clear that an investment in transit is an investment in equity.

What we mean by that is that public transportation ridership is heavily weighted toward low-income communities and people of color. And so when we improve our services, those benefits go toward the people who need them the most.

In addition, our country’s history has resulted in a landscape tilted against Black communities, who experience worse health outcomes, higher levels of air pollution and lower levels of public services overall. Good access to strong transit can help combat those issues and more.

Some of the most obvious benefits of transit are financial. It’s expensive to own, operate and maintain a car after all, and a monthly bus pass costs just $41.25.

Some of those are safety-related. Traveling by public transit is 10 times safer than by car.

Traffic safety also affects health outcomes, because people riding transit are in fewer collisions and therefore suffer fewer traffic-related injuries. Transit also brings improvements to the overall health of Black people and other communities of color in a variety of ways:

  • Transit takes cars off the roads, reducing air pollution from vehicles.
  • Transit combines with other active forms of transportation like walking and biking to and from stops or stations, enabling riders to get more exercise.
  • Transit connects people to medical centers, hospitals and doctors offices, giving more people access to regular healthcare appointments.
  • Transit increases access to healthier food options as well.

Public transportation can be a great equalizer for all communities and historically has been essential for Black Americans.

Stay Safe Around the Tracks

MetroRail is a great service, and people have been relying on it for more than a decade to go into work, get to Austin’s many special events or simply find a spot to grab food and drinks with friends late on a Friday night. And this year has seen a host of new train lovers with the opening of Q2 Stadium and the first season for Austin FC.

It’s a perfect way to get to the soccer game with everyone in great spirits and getting ready for the game.

But you have to know, no one gets to have fun at the game (or at the brewpub or at the office … if you’ve got one of those kinds of offices) if you don’t get there safely.

Operation Lifesaver’s Rail Safety Week comes every September — this year’s is Sep. 20-26 — and we’d like to remind you of the absolute need to keep safe behavior around rail tracks at all times.

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.

Our MetroRail trains generally travel slower than that, but they’re still very large vehicles moving very fast. Don’t try them. They’ll win.

Follow these tips to stay safe and help reduce the number of incidents at rail tracks:

  • Stop if you see flashing red lights.
  • 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.

Be safe and be smart. If you are going to the game at Q2 Stadium, please look out for the flashing lights and rail arms and NEVER trespass by walking along tracks outside of designated public crossings.

Capital Metro Expands Public Safety Program

To support our customers and staff members and to meet the needs of our growing community, Capital Metro is expanding our Public Safety program. With more resources being directed toward transit-centered public safety, CapMetro can better respond to the safety needs on our expanding system.

The Public Safety Department will consist of three core functions:

  • Public Safety Ambassadors
  • Intervention Specialists
  • Transit Police

These specialized and dedicated resources will help fulfill CapMetro’s transit safety efforts.

Within the next 18 months, CapMetro will develop new policies as well as hire and train members of the Public Safety Department. Throughout this process, CapMetro will continue to engage with customers, staff and the community.

In January, CapMetro hired two social workers and a public safety supervisor, who now leads a team of public safety ambassadors. Those ambassadors serve as the primary contacts for customers and employees and respond to safety matters that do not require police officers .

While CapMetro looks forward to our continued partnership with the Austin Police Department, day-to-day policing will soon be conducted by CapMetro’s transit police, who will be able to focus their time and efforts on specific transit-security needs.

“Central Texas doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago We recognize the area is growing, and it’s important that our Public Safety Department grow with it, so we can continue to provide safe transportation to the community we serve”

Chief Safety Officer Gardner Tabon