The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic and GPS navigation software, are collaborating in an effort to improve safety for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) passengers.
The MTA has announced the start of a partnership with Waze, to bolster safety at LIRR railroad crossings.
"Safety is a core value at the MTA and its commuter railroads for our customers and our employees, as well as for those in the communities we serve," said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. "We are delighted to continue to go above and beyond railroad crossing safety requirements, to announce a new safety initiative, in partnership with Waze, to alert motorists using the app that they are approaching a grade crossing."
The LIRR reports that in 2017, the railroad recorded 29 reports of cars on tracks, in addition to 17 grade-crossing accidents involving the LIRR and motor vehicles.
Year to date, through May 22, LIRR says there have been two grade-crossing accidents and 21 reports of cars on tracks so far.
Both MTA and LIRR have mandated grade-crossing warning systems in the past by ensuring each public crossing has the required gates, red flashing lights and warning bells, in addition to train horns sounding as they approach, officials said.
The new technological addition is the first feature of its kind to debut on the app and is related to LIRR's ongoing work with Waze as part of the Connected Citizens Program – a free, two-way data share of publicly available traffic information, MTA said.
On June 7, 2018, the 10th International Level Crossing Awareness Day, Waze integrated a railroad crossing warning to alert users at 10 pilot locations in Long Island, and the rollout is set to continue until all 296 LIRR grade-crossing locations are live on the app.
"As a community-based app, our navigation technology and features are constantly evolving and we are enthusiastic about our work with LIRR to implement a new tool that will help promote driver safety near Long Island railroad crossings," said Thais Blumenthal, Global Connected Citizens Program Lead. "Our Connected Citizens Program is all about leveraging data and insights to inform and improve city infrastructure. As a new partner, LIRR is harnessing information that is relevant to its community and improving their experience, which we are happy to help make a reality."
MTA said the partnership follows an aggressive review of potential railroad crossing safety enhancements by the authority and by the LIRR, which has resulted in the railroads taking additional steps to enhance grade-crossing safety, officials said