APTA names Safety & Security Excellence winners

Sept. 23, 2020
The annual recognition honors transit agencies for innovative and proactive safety and security programs.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) named 10 winners of the 2020 Bus and Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards. Seven agencies, four in rail and three in bus, earned Gold awards, which APTA says is the top honor bestowed on organizations with the best overall safety or security programs. An additional three agencies earned certificates of merit, which recognizes exceptional achievement in safety or security.   

“Congratulations to the award-winning public transit systems for their successful safety and security transportation programs that are models of excellence for the industry,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The implementation of these initiatives demonstrates the ongoing commitment to improving safety and security for their passengers, employees and communities in the public transit industry.”

The APTA Bus and Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards recognize public transit providers for their innovative and proactive safety and security programs. Nominations are evaluated on four criteria: effectiveness, benefit level, innovation and transferability.

APTA says these awards help to build the industry by benchmarking successful programs so other systems can implement and fine-tune their programs based on the findings of their peers.

The 2020 Safety & Security Excellence Award winners are awarded in categories based on rail modes and bus ridership.



  • Commuter/Intercity Rail
    • Gold Award – MTA NY- Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) New York, NY
    • Certificate of Merit – MTA Metro-North Railroad – New York, NY
  • Light Rail/Streetcar
    • Gold Award – Niagara Frontier Transit Metro System, Inc. (NFTA) Buffalo, NY


  • Light Rail/Streetcar
    • Gold Award – Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) Sacramento, CA
    • Certificate of Merit – Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Maryland
  • Commuter/Intercity Rail
    • Gold Award – The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)



  • Public Transportation systems providing more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips
    • Gold Award – Palm Tran, Palm Beach County, FL
    • Certificate of Merit – Pierce County Public Transit Benefit Area Corporation (Pierce Transit), Pierce County, WA
  • Public Transportation systems providing more than 20 million annual passenger trips
    • Gold Award – Capital Metropolitan Transportation (Cap Metro), Austin, TX


  • Public Transportation systems providing more than four million and fewer than 20 million annual passenger trips
    • Gold Award – Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA), Cincinnati, OH
    • Certificate of Merit – Metro Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Akron, OH

Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier, whose agency was recognized with a certificate of merit for bus safety, explains her agency has a focus on embedding safety into its culture.

“From our operator training procedures to our response to COVID-19 and beyond, we are keeping the safety of our employees, customers and the community top-of-mind,” said Dreier.

This is the fourth win for SORTA, which has installed customer-facing monitors that broadcast a live feed of on-board security cameras to promote customer safety and security on board as part of its security practices. SORTA also utilizes real-time, wireless video monitoring equipment to assist law enforcement in the event of security incidents and has put into place several security related programs and partnerships for operator and emergency personnel training.

“The safety and security of our passengers is and will always be our top priority,” said SORTA CEO and General Manager Darryl Haley. “We are incredibly honored to be recognized by APTA as an industry leader for our efforts to ensure that all riders have a safe and secure experience every trip.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.