Today marks another day of progress for the St. Louis Metrolink system, as the Cortex station opened to the public for the first time this morning.  This new station will increase access to the Cortex district, an area that has been growing rapidly in recent years as companies open up offices and add new jobs.  As a transit user and enthusiast myself, I am more than excited today, and I feel like this is a great opportunity to address transit safety.

While the Cortex station technically isn’t in Forest Park Southeast (we actually don’t have any Metrolink stations in FPSE), our neighborhood is served by several Metro bus lines.  I’ll be writing about safety on both the train and bus, however, since it’s likely that many people who use the bus in FPSE also use the train from time to time.

Bus Safety

Here are some tips for staying safe on and around Metro buses:

  1. Never run alongside a moving bus after it has left a stop.  Just wait for the next bus.
  2. If you’re using the bike rack on the front of the bus, always approach from the curb.  Also alert the driver as you get off the bus that you need to grab your bike off the front.
  3. Never assume a bus driver sees you just because you can see them.  Light posts, parked cars, and other obstacles can prevent a driver from noticing you.
  4. Never cross the street in front of a bus, unless it is stopped at a traffic light.  Even when a bus is stopped at a light, practice good caution and look both ways before crossing, as vehicles in other lanes may be moving.
  5. Don’t cross the street between parked cars.  Bus drivers may not see you until you have already walked into the street.
  6. Wait for the bus on the sidewalk away from the curb, and use dedicated bus shelters if available.
  7. Make sure a bus has completely stopped before you approach it.
  8. Never let children play around buses, and always hold your child’s hand as a bus approaches.
Metrolink Train Safety

Before we get into the details, check out this fun video from Metro transit in Melboure, Australia about train safety.

Awareness is the key to safety around trains.  Read below for tips on awareness and general train safety.

Safety near Metrolink stations:

  1. NEVER try to beat a train through a crossing.  It takes the length of two football fields for a train to stop!
  2. Always WAIT for trains!  They will pass by within a few seconds, and your life is not worth the risk of potentially tripping in front of a train just to save a few seconds of time.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings at all times!
  4. Use audio and visual cues: trains always sound their horn when crossing streets, and drivers always ring the bell as they approach and depart each station.  The front and back of light rail trains look identical—red tail lights indicate the train is moving away from you.
  5. Stay away from the high voltage power lines that provide electricity to the trains.

Safety on the platforms:

  1. Turn down your music or remove headphones altogether so you can hear when trains are coming.
  2. Always stand behind the yellow line while waiting for a train, and stay behind the line until the train is fully stopped.
  3. Pay close attention to your children when on the platform.
  4. Cross tracks ONLY at designated crossings.
  5. NEVER skateboard, roller blade, bike, or use any other devices with wheels on the platform.  Also avoid running on the platform, as you could trip and fall onto the tracks.
  6. Let other passengers exit before you board the train.
  7. Never stick hands or feet into doors to prevent them from closing.  You could seriously injure yourself, so just wait for the next train.

Safety on the train:

  1. Always give up your seat to elderly or disabled passengers if needed.
  2. It’s safest to say seated while the train is in motion.  If you must stand, always hold onto handrails.
  3. Keep your children near you while riding the train.
  4. If you have luggage, keep it out of the aisle.
  5. If you’re taking a bike on the train, board in the designated locations only.  These areas of the train have space for bikes.
Personal Security on Metro Trains and Buses

It’s no secret that crimes can occur on public transit.  This shouldn’t discourage you from using the train or bus, however, as there are several security measures in place should you find your personal safety at risk.

The first security measure is Metro Public Safety.  This is a network of multiple layers of security for riders.  All Metro public safety officers are sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating and responding to incidents and suspicious activity on the Metro system.  Metro contracts with local law enforcement agencies from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County (IL) to provide security.  Undercover police officers are also used on both trains and buses.  In addition to police, Metro contracts with a private security firm for additional security guards and fare inspectors.

The second security measure Metro now offers is the Noonlight app (formerly called SafeTrek).  This app is available for Android and Apple phones and will notify law enforcement if you are in an unsafe situation on a train or bus, at a stop/station, or walking to a stop/station.  All you have to do is press and hold a button in the app if you feel unsafe, and law enforcement will be notified and dispatched to your location.

A third security measure in place is 24/7 monitoring.  Video dispatchers monitor metro trains, buses, and other property constantly and will dispatch security officers when needed.  Passenger assist telephones are also located at each train station and Metro parking areas.  These phones ring directly to Metro Public Safety.  Security officers can also be reached by calling 314-289-6873 for Metro Public Safety or 911 for police.