Did you know that PSTA has a special division within its Transportation Department that’s dedicated to safety and security? Well, we do, and they’re a busy bunch of people! PSTA was recently notified that we scored 99% on a base assessment of our safety and security programs and procedures by the Federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transportation Security Administration, which would make us eligible for their Gold Standard for the second time! Only those agencies with the best ratings receive the Gold Standard Award.
PSTA is a very safe transit system, with several state-of-the-art tools in place to help us keep it that way. We know where every bus is at any given time thanks to GPS technology on board every vehicle. Our Operators are trained how to respond and communicate with first responders in the event of an emergency on board, or if they witness a crime or emergency along their routes. And, all buses have audio and video surveillance systems so we record everything that happens inside and outside the bus (PSTA Customer Service Centers have similar surveillance). We’ve funded many of these improvements as well as cameras and security measures at our facilities with DHS grant funds. PSTA continues to have a successful relationship with our Federal security partners.
Safety and security is very serious business, that’s why in 2010 we jumped at the chance to apply for additional grant funding from the Federal DHS. For Phase One of the 2010 project we wanted to encourage passengers, and the general public, to trust their instincts and report anything doesn’t look or feel right, or seems out of place. A special brochure that describes “suspicious activity” and “suspicious objects,” and how to report them, was distributed on board PSTA’s fleet of vehicles and at several large-crowd events in Pinellas. A second component of Phase One was the development of a first responder training module for local emergency responders and law enforcement use.
When we applied for Phase One funding, we also asked DHS for future consideration of a Phase Two to implement a mass media campaign to further promote public awareness of security issues related to public transportation.
Because a safe and secure transit system means more than combating terrorism and security measures, we decided to take a more people-centered approach to the mass media campaign. DHS officials told PSTA they favor this people-centered approach with all their supported outreach campaigns. The TV ads point out the safety and security features of our fleet such as the Real Time Bus Information system, which riders can use to find out exactly what time the bus is coming, and therefore minimize wait time at a bus stop. Another in the series talks about how PSTA’s Bus Operators are professionally trained and that the system has received national security awards. The final ad in the series talks about PSTA’s fleet of hybrid buses and how commuting on these vehicles helps protect the environment, as well as providing a safe and secure ride to work. The radio, billboard, and bus ads further enforce these messages.
We wanted people to know that PSTA is a safe and secure mode of transportation, and that PSTA is constantly striving to make improvements. That’s why in the last few seconds of the TV ad, viewers are invited to visit not just PSTA.net, which provides information about how to ride our services, but also GreenlightPinellas.com which is the repository for all info about our plans to improve our services
It is important to recognize that the message in the series of ads is public awareness of security issues related to public transportation. Improvements to frequency and service that would come with the Greenlight Pinellas Plan will reduce wait times, thereby making the system even safer. So, pointing people to both the website where we talk about the future vision of transit, and the PSTA website where they can see our current system, just makes sense. It’s another example of how PSTA leads the way in providing safe and secure transit options while serving our community with total transparency and fiscal responsibility.