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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) yesterday announced the winners of its annual Rail Safety and Security Excellence Awards.The awards ceremony, which took place at the APTA Rail Conference in Baltimore, recognized North American rail systems for excellence in safety and security programs and operations, APTA officials said in a press release."This year's winners show that the industry is continuing to innovate as we make riding on rail public transit safe and secure," said APTA Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Richard White. "These best practices are the best of the best and contribute to the fact that traveling by rail is among the safest way to travel."Winning Gold Awards in the heavy-rail category were:• Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), which received the Award for Safety. MARTA was recognized for improved employee and contractor safety on the right of way. Additionally, the agency produced an enhanced version of the Wayside Access Procedure Manual/Standard Operation Procedures. Since 2001, MARTA has not had any employee or contractor fatalities on the right of way.• Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), which received the Award for Security. Metro was recognized for developing a Transit Homeless Action Plan that served as a guide for passengers and employees. The plan also provided a coordinated outreach toward the homeless.Winning Gold Awards in the light-rail/streetcar category were:• Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which received the Award for Safety. The agency was recognized for its comprehensive public outreach and engineering program to enhance pedestrian safety around its light-rail lines.• Maryland Transit Administration, which received the Award for Security for using data to analyze crime and fare evasions. The practice helped the agency's police force to increase citations for fare evasions by 109 percent since 2014.Receiving Certificates of Merit were:• Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, which was recognized for safety in the heavy-rail category. The authority was honored for implementing an emergency pantograph lowering system designed to keep the train operator out of unnecessary danger.• San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, which was recognized for safety in the light-rail/streetcar category. The system was honored for implementing a state-of-good repair program that increased the safety reliability.• Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which was recognized for security in the light-rail/streetcar category for conducting a Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) with the federal Transportation Security Administration. The BASE contributed to the VTA's crowd management practices during events at Levi's Stadium, which included Super Bowl 50.