National Express employees in Westmoreland, Penn., was awarded the prestigious Certificate of Merit for Safety by The American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
As part of the Safety & Security Excellence Awards, the goal is to “recognize APTA bus transportation systems that have implemented programs or projects that have achieved documented success in addressing specific safety or security program areas."
National Express was the only private company to receive this year’s award and will be recognized at the APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in May. APTA recognized National Express for their commitment to safety and for the implementation of the Smith System to improve upon the quality of their overall safety action plan.
National Express Westmoreland employees set an aggressive accident reduction goal as part of their safety action plan to reduce losses, provide safer service, and reduce near misses. The staff immediately set an aggressive goal as part of their safety action plan to reduce safety complaints and accidents in the final six months of 2011 by 25 percent as compared to 2010 and to further reduce those accident frequency numbers by an additional 20 percent in 2012 as compared to the results of 2011.
To achieve these results would require teaching behavioral based no-risk safety concepts and retraining Operators in our customized Smith System defensive driving program, field-coaching operators, and improving the effectiveness of our bus operator new hire training program. Westmoreland County Transit’s and National Express’ ambitious goals for increased ridership made these safety goals potentially even more challenging.
Within two months of the initial application of the Smith System training with existing operators, employees experience less frequent preventable collisions and safety complaints and fewer complaints from passengers regarding bus safety concerns. Positive comments from customers increased, many recognizing operators for their worthy driving skills. Commendations, rather than complaints, were on the rise. In addition, the reduction of preventable accidents led to a decrease in bus repairs due to collisions.
Tom Greufe, vice president of safety at National Express, wants to expand the successes at Westmoreland throughout other transit locations in North America.
“With minimal investment the results were well worth the time to implement this program”, Greufe stated.