Sometimes life’s most important lessons are best taught by children. To assist with spreading the message of being aware of one’s surroundings, paying attention to safety warnings and not being distracted by loud music, smartphones and other handheld devices while commuting on SEPTA, the authority enlisted the help of the kindergarten through eighth grade students from Philadelphia’s St. Mary Interparochial School. During the 2017-18 school year, the students wrote essays and drew posters of what transit safety means to them. The students’ work was unveiled today, during the Authority’s sixth annual system-wide Safety Day. The students’ artwork is featured on SEPTA’s new “Make the Safe Choice” bus wrap and vehicle car cards and their essays and safety tips are used on SEPTA safety literature.
“St. Mary’s was a great partner in our Safety Day challenge,” said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Jim Fox. “Every member of the student body submitted posters or essays, all conveying important safety tips such as standing behind the yellow tactile strips on platforms, not entering the track areas and paying attention when at train stations and bus stops. All of our passengers-adults and children-will learn from the St. Mary’s students’ work.”
Fox recognized the students’ contributions at the Authority’s annual Safety Day press conference, held at St. Mary’s, located at 5th and Locust Streets in Philadelphia. Students with the top essays and posters from kindergarten-second grade, third-fifth grades and sixth-eighth grades were presented with SEPTA gift bags. The authority also revealed the new student-designed safety-themed bus.
“All of the students’ work was exceptional. It made our job of picking the best submissions extremely difficult,” said Fox. “I commend the students, their teachers and the St. Mary’s administration for their contributions to our safety program.”
“More than a million people take SEPTA’s buses, trains and trolleys daily to get to work, school or doctor’s appointments and for shopping trips, said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “Safety should always the top priority when commuting on SEPTA vehicles and around our bus stops, stations and transportation centers. The materials designed by the students give a new look to our safety messages and should not only attract the attention of our commuters, but also help us spread the message of transit safety to the community at large.”
Prior to the Safety Day press conference, junior safety officers from St. Mary’s joined more than 200 Authority employees to distribute educational materials and answer safety questions at almost 100 SEPTA rail, trolley and bus stations, loops and transportation centers throughout the Authority’s service area. The St. Mary’s students partnered with SEPTA System Safety officers to hand out their brochures at the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th and 13th Street Market-Frankford Line Stations.
“Many of our students ride SEPTA trains, the El and buses each day to commute to school. They are aware of and pay attention to the rules of ridership and how to be safe on public transit,” said St. Mary’s Principal Jeanne Meredith. “We are proud of our young artists and writers and are excited for them as they celebrate this special SEPTA day with all of you. Our sincere thanks to SEPTA for making this day possible for our school community.”
SEPTA’s year-long safety partnership with St. Mary’s will be capped off on May 16, when the award-winning students go behind the scenes at the authority with a special “Day at SEPTA”.
“To thank the students for helping us spread the word about transit safety, we are hosting the essay and poster contest winners for a day at SEPTA,” said Fox. “We will give them a tour of our Control Center and Southern Bus and Elmwood Trolley Districts; let them test our train and bus simulators; and have them spend time with General Manager Knueppel, SEPTA Police Chief Nestel and our transit police officers. We not only want to show the students our appreciation for their work, but we also want them to know how we will use their messages over the next year in our efforts to keep our riders and the community safe.”
SEPTA’s system-wide Safety Day is an extension of the Authority’s “Safety Blitz” education program.
“At least once a month, our safety officers and police officers visit railroad, rail transit and bus stations across the Authority, reviewing regulations and precautions with thousands of customers,” said Fox. “We often visit locations as a result of community request or stations that have a high volume of customers or trespassers.”
SEPTA’s System Safety Department also makes Operation Lifesaver rail safety presentations to students from kindergarten through high school and to a wide variety of audiences such as hearing and visually impaired adults, driver’s education students, emergency responders and professional drivers. SEPTA offers the presentations – which are aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian and driver injuries and fatalities around railroad tracks by highlighting risky behaviors – free of charge to school and community groups.
For more information about SEPTA safety and to download PDFs of safety tips for all SEPTA modes, visit https://www5.septa.org/about/safety/safety-tips/. For information about SEPTA’s Operation Lifesaver presentations, and to schedule a presentation, call 215-580-7800. For more information about Operation Lifesaver, visit https://oli.org/.