Summer is a great time to be in Philadelphia, with many festivals, concerts, dining and sporting events in which to partake. Taking buses, trains and trolleys is the easiest way to travel to and from these activities. But, while summer is a time for fun and relaxation, it is not a time to take a break from safety, especially when using SEPTA.
“In the summer, people tend to be on vacation mode and can become more relaxed and tend to be less focused,” said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Jim Fox. “In our region we also have many tourists, many whom have never or rarely used mass transit and aren’t familiar with safety guidelines. It only takes a second of not paying attention for a transit tragedy to happen.”
Unsafe behaviors include leaning into the track area to look for the next train; staring at a phone and not paying attention to one’s surroundings; listening to music at a loud volume thus blocking out other sounds in a station; being under the influence of a substance; and being unsteady on one’s feet for medical or other reasons.
To prevent accidents, SEPTA asks all riders to be aware of their surroundings, especially when on a train platform. The authority also requests that its seasoned riders look out for others acting in an unsafe manner and to “Watch Their Step”.
“The number of incidents of people falling into the tracks from January-May 2018 is higher than it was during the same time last year,” said Fox. “The majority of the incidents are occurring on the Broad Street Line and the Market-Frankford Line.”
If a customer sees someone who looks like they might be in trouble or is not paying attention, Fox says to try alerting the person before he or she gets to the platform’s edge. If the person does not respond to the warning, contact SEPTA personnel immediately. “Customers should look for SEPTA staff on the platform or for the station cashier, use the yellow emergency call box located on the platform or call SEPTA Transit Police at 215-580-8111. Riders can also use SEPTA’s Transit Watch app, which provides direct communication with the Authority’s Transit Police Department,” said Fox. [Instructions on how to use the Transit Watch app are available here: https://www.septa.org/safety/septa-transit-watch.html].
Messages and calls from the Transit Watch app and emergency boxes alert SEPTA’s dispatchers to stop trains and turn off power to the third rail. The electrified third rails on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines carry 700 and 600 volts, respectively. Someone who has fallen into or entered the track area could be seriously hurt, or possibly electrocuted, if they make contact with that rail. Fox warns that customers should never jump off a platform to get a person who has fallen. “You could make contact with the electrified third rail or injure yourself and not be able to get out before a train comes.”
Fox added, “Knowing what to do in an emergency can help save a life. The quicker you reach out to SEPTA personnel, the faster we can assist that person.”
For more information about SEPTA’s Watch Their Step campaign, visit www.septa.org/safety/watchtheirstep.html.