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MTA creates chief safety officer post

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast announced the agency is creating a new chief safety officer position as one of several initiatives aimed at improving safety throughout MTA's operations.

The chief safety officer will be a senior management post reporting directly to Prendergast to ensure safety is a top priority throughout all MTA operations, agency officials said in a press release. MTA's board also will create a new safety committee.

In addition, each MTA agency will ensure its top safety official reports directly to the agency's president to reinforce that safety is a prime concern for every agency’' management. At MTA Metro-North Railroad, where safety and security now report to the same position, the responsibilities will be separated and a new position of chief safety officer will be created, MTA officials said.

MTA's announcement follows several safety-related incidents, including five fatalities, in the past several months at Metro-North.

"The safety of our customers and employees is unquestionably the top priority for the MTA, and these steps will make sure this emphasis on safety is built into the operations of every MTA agency," Prendergast said. "The events of the last year have made clear to everyone in the MTA how important it is to create a culture where all employees act to eliminate risks, and changing our executive structure will ensure safety remains a dedicated agency value."

MTA agencies have re-examined their safety-related operations over the past year. Prendergast, who has spent 10 years of his career in safety positions, convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of outside experts to study MTA safety practices in September 2013.

Moreover, Metro-North Railroad and MTA Long Island Rail Road announced they have installed automatic speed controls at 10 critical curves and one moveable bridge since the Dec. 1, 2013, Metro-North derailment at a curve in the Bronx. The controls work with existing signal systems installed in every train cab to enforce speed limits at those locations, railroad officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/26/2014