(Kansas City, Mo. – May 16, 2016) The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority won top national honors this weekend for its efforts to bolster bus safety on the road and protect bus passengers and operators from assaults.
The American Public Transportation Association, the country’s top transit advocacy group, gave the KCATA both its Gold Award for Safety and its Gold Award for Security. The KCATA won the award in the category for transit agencies with between 4 million and 20 million annual passenger trips.
“We are honored that our work in safety and security has been recognized nationally,” said Robbie Makinen, the authority’s president and chief executive officer. “This award demonstrates the KCATA doesn’t just talk about safety and security – it acts. Safety and security are the KCATA’s top priorities.”
The KCATA won the safety award for a program phased in since 2013 that was aimed at reducing bus accidents. The program emphasized the five ‘Es:’ engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation. Among other things, the KCATA fitted its bus fleet with accelerometers to better follow driving behaviors.
The authority also adopted new policies that toughened the possible consequences regarding cell phone use, distracted driving, and yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks.
As a result, the agency’s bus crash rate dropped in 2015, for the first time in 3 years.
The KCATA also won the public transportation’s association Gold Award for steps it’s taken to keep operators and riders safe on the bus system.
Earlier this year, the KCATA signed an agreement with the Kansas City Police Department to hire two full-time uniformed transit officers to complement 39 off-duty police officers who patrol the bus system. The full-time officers – who are in police uniforms and patrol cars – give the KCATA the ability to immediately respond to incidents whenever they arise, whether it’s on a bus, a transit stop or on agency property.
The authority established new rules imposing bans for passenger misconduct. The rules ban passengers for physical abuse of KCATA employees or customers, indecent exposure and disruptive behavior endangering the operation of the bus, among other factors. Six people have already been barred from the bus in Kansas City.
The KCATA also stresses safety training to avoid conflicts. Last year, the KCATA sent 460 operators through assault prevention and conflict-resolution training offered by Rutgers University’s National Training Institute. The KCATA was the first agency in the nation to take part in the training. The course helped drivers identify when they might be most vulnerable and how they can defuse an explosive situation with an angry passenger.