Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rail Safety Event Aug. 27 Serves Up Free Fun

A unique feature of the new pedestrian undercrossing at Old Towne Orange is an art installation called, "Orange in Motion." A budget-friendly family event features 1,000 kobe beef sliders from Ruby's Diner, smoothies and other food along with face painting and kid games. And the best part: it's all free.

A new pedestrian undercrossing at the Orange Depot opened this week to passengers. The undercrossing allows passengers safer access to trains without having to cross the railroad tracks.

The city of Orange and OCTA are hosting a community celebration from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27. OCTA Chairman Peter Buffa and Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche and Buena Park Councilman Art Brown will join other dignitaries in officially dedicating the undercrossing at a 5 p.m. special ceremony.

The free community event features 1,000 sliders from Ruby's Diner, snow cones, popcorn, smoothies and other drinks along with face painting, balloon-making, mini-trains for kids and booths on rail safety, transit services and other city services.

Community members may win prizes such an iPod, Flip video camera, train tickets and American Express gift cards.

"Between 1,500 and 2,000 people use that station every day," Director Cavecche said. "Safety is an important issue for Metrolink, OCTA and the city of Orange," who worked together to complete a much-needed safety improvement to historic Old Towne Orange.

Crews constructed the $8 million underpass on budget and delivered the safety enhancement in just over one year.

The city of Orange, OCTA and Metrolink built a new undercrossing connecting two rail platforms at the Orange train depot. Construction began in June 2008 and was completed this week.

Sheriff's Team Helps Keep O.C. Transit Safe

OCTA Security Manager Bruce Gadbois, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, OCTA CEO Will Kempton and Transit Police Chief Lt. Jim Rudy discuss the future of transit security.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchins and Lt. Jim Rudy, chief of OCTA's Transit Security Services, discussed transit security issues with the Orange County Transportation Authority and its new CEO, Will Kempton this week.

The sheriff offered OCTA any assistance that the department could provide "to ensure the safety of Orange County's riders and to keep the transit system safe."

They also discussed vital security services provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department in its 15-year partnership with OCTA.

When the Sheriff's Department began providing transit security services in 1992, Cathy Zurn, then a sergeant, headed the department. Next month, Capt. Zurn retires from the Sheriff's Department with 30 years of service.

"The Sheriff's Department is proud to serve OCTA over the years," Rudy said. "We're going to continue that effective partnership and collaborative effort."

That effort has led to solutions to enhance safety from roundtables with coach operators and transit police, a successful anti-graffiti program and a strong working relationship that ensures OCTA continues to receive quality service.

In a July 29 incident, Deputy Tony Lim received help from coach operator Tony Aidukas in apprehending a repeat fare-evader. When the fare-evader became violent, Aidukas stepped in to help the deputy. Deputy Mike LaBarbera also assisted in the arrest.

Rudy also shared crime statistics that indicate that OCTA has one of the lowest crime rates in the country in terms of size and boardings.

Kempton thanked the Sheriff's Department for its service to the public and said he looked forward to addressing safety issues and other challenges that will inevitably arise in operating a large transit system.

Listen! Want to learn more about what it takes to keep Orange County among the safest transit system's in the nation? I did. To listen to my interview with the county's top law enforcement officers from my iPhone audioBoo application, click here.