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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) yesterday honored four transit agencies for the quality of their safety and security practices. The association bestowed the awards at its Rail Conference in Salt Lake City.In the heavy-rail category, MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) earned the gold award for security. In 2008, NYCT established a program known as "Eagle Team," which involves teams that monitor rail yards for vandals or other criminals. The program led to a 61 percent decrease in graffiti and other incidents, APTA officials said in a press release.The Maryland Transit Administration, also in the heavy-rail division, received the gold award for safety. The agency designed and implemented a Safety Rules and Compliance Program, which aims to keep customers, employees and equipment safe. It established three tiers of management staff to increase collaboration and accountability, APTA officials said.In the commuter, intercity or regional rail category, MTA Long Island Rail Road received the gold award for safety. The railroad developed a cross disciplinary safety observation and testing program, which allowed the agency to conduct safety observations in the field with employees from a variety of work areas. Additionally, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver earned the gold award for safety in the light-rail and streetcar category as a result of its comprehensive safety plan. RTD's plan was aimed at minimizing accidents at high-traffic grade crossings. A year after implementing this program, those types of accidents decreased 61 percent, APTA officials said."I am honored to celebrate with these dedicated individuals who exemplify our industry's commitment to safety and security," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy. "These transit systems have developed new approaches, harnessed new technologies, and establish best practices to proactively prevent crashes and incidents that ultimately result in reducing injuries and saving lives."Meanwhile, APTA also named the winners of its annual International Rail Rodeo competitions, held concurrently with the Rail Conference.Hampton Roads Transit won first place in the operators' competition, which measures skills such as train operation, knowledge of safety regulation, train equipment and track right-of-way rules and procedures. Bay Area Rapid Transit won the maintainers' competition, which judges a team's ability to troubleshoot maintenance problems.In addition, the Utah Transit Authority took home the Rail Transit Team Achievement Award, which is given to the transit system with the highest rail operator and maintainer team combined score.
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