Traveling on SEPTA? The Authority wants to make sure you take safety along when you ride.
“More than a million people take SEPTA’s buses, trains and trolleys daily, using the same routine every day to get to work, school or doctor’s appointments and for shopping trips,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “When we have a repetitive schedule, we tend to get comfortable, operating on autopilot instead of paying attention to our surroundings and possible hazards. Safety should always be our priority when commuting on SEPTA vehicles and around our bus stops, stations and transportation centers.”
To remind the public of the importance of being alert when traveling on and around SEPTA vehicles, bus stops, transportation centers and facilities, SEPTA made “Take Safety Along When You Ride” the focus of its fourth annual “Make the Safe Choice” Safety Awareness Day. During the morning rush hour on Wednesday, May 4, four hundred Authority employees distributed educational materials and answered safety questions at more than 100 SEPTA rail, trolley and bus stations, loops and transportation centers throughout the authority’s five-county service area. Safety messages were also displayed in the authority’s stations and on its vehicles.
“We are seeing far too many distracted commuters -people who are too in tune with their music, phone conversations, and texting, and not paying attention to traffic, trains coming into stations and if the vehicle is approaching their stops,” said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Scott Sauer. “Some of the most important safety tips we can offer are the simplest: stay on the sidewalks and behind the yellow lines on platforms and always stop, look and listen before crossing the street.”
SEPTA emphasized bus safety as the featured mode for Safety Awareness Day 2016. “Last year we launched a pilot program to audibly warn pedestrians in the vicinity of a bus when the vehicle is making a turn,” said Sauer. “The Safe Turn Alert system (https://www.septa.org/safety/bus-turn-alert.html) uses an audio warning and a strobe light to make pedestrians aware that the bus is making a right- or left-hand turn. This is an added layer to our already extensive ‘Make the Safe Choice’ campaign, not only geared toward our customers, but to the millions of area residents and visitors that interact with SEPTA on a daily basis.”
The response from SEPTA’s operators during the six-month pilot program was overwhelmingly positive and the authority is proceeding with having the system installed in all of its buses beginning later this year.
Making the safe choice is also important for the millions of residents of SEPTA’s five-county service region.”Not only do we want to reach our customers at our stations and transportation centers with our Safety Awareness Day messages, we want them to share the educational materials and tips with their families, friends and neighbors,” said Knueppel. “We need the community to be our partners to help us spread the word about safety.”
SEPTA held its first system wide safety day in 2013. The Authority is believed to be the first U.S. transit organization to hold such an all-out, one day safety endeavor. This year, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Indego joined SEPTA’s initiative as transportation safety partners.
“The Philadelphia region is popular for bike enthusiasts, with its growing trail system and the extremely successful Indego bike share program,” said Sauer. “With the better weather and summer break coming for schools, we know more cyclists will be on the streets.”
As part of its Safety Awareness Day activities, SEPTA offered tips for bikers, including riding in the same direction as traffic; yielding to pedestrians; not passing buses on the right hand side when passengers are boarding and exiting; crossing trolley tracks at a perpendicular angle; and wearing reflective clothing and using bike lights when riding at night. SEPTA also created bike safety videos, available on the authority’s website at https://www.septa.org/safety/.
“SEPTA is a bike-friendly transit system. We welcome bikes on our buses, trains and trolleys and our operators are trained to use their eyes and mirrors to avoid hazards approaching from the sides of the vehicles, like cyclists,” said Sauer. “We ask cyclists to help us make the roads safe for everyone by following the tips in our videos and educational materials.”
SEPTA’s system-wide Safety Awareness Day isn’t a one day event – it is part of the authority’s efforts to create a culture of safety and get everyone, SEPTA’s customers, neighbors and employees, to commit to being alert while on or near SEPTA property. “At least once a month, our safety officers visit transportation centers, bus loops and rail stations across the Authority, reviewing rules and precautions with thousands of passengers,” said Sauer. “We often visit locations as a result of community request.”
SEPTA’s System Safety Department also makes safety presentations to students from kindergarten through high school and to a wide variety of audiences such as hearing and visually impaired adults, driver’s education students, emergency responders and professional drivers. SEPTA offers the presentations free of charge to school and community groups. Each program is tailored to the specific audience and includes a slide show, video and question-and-answer session.
For more information about SEPTA safety and to download PDFs of safety tips for all SEPTA modes, visit https://www.septa.org/safety/tips/. For information about SEPTA’s safety presentations and to schedule a session, call 215-580-7800.