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Safety Lessons from Our Youngest Riders

Heather Redfern
Public Information Manager

President Herbert Hoover once said, "Children are our most valuable resource." Knowing that children can help teach some of life's most important lessons, SEPTA enlisted the assistance of the kindergarten through eighth grade students from Philadelphia's St. Mary Interparochial School to create safety-themed artwork and essays to be used in literature distributed to the Authority's customers during the sixth annual "Make the Safe Choice" System-wide Safety Day. The results were even better than anticipated.

"Because the school is located in Society Hill, many of the students either ride SEPTA to and from school or have some interaction with our vehicles during the course of the day. They understand what rules people should follow when riding on buses, trains and trolleys, waiting on platforms or bus stops and being around our stations and facilities," said SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Jim Fox. "We visited St. Mary's last fall to talk to the students about transit safety. They took the lead from there and created phenomenal posters and essays for us on being aware of your surroundings, standing behind the yellow tactile strips on platforms and not being distracted by loud music and phones." The Authority recognized the students' contributions at the annual Safety Day press conference, held at St. Mary's on May 2. Students with the top essays and posters from kindergarten-second grade, third-fifth grades and sixth-eighth grades were presented with SEPTA gift bags. The Authority also revealed the new safety-themed wrapped bus and brochures that feature the students' artwork and safety tips. [Prior to the Safety Day press conference, junior safety officers from St. Mary's partnered with SEPTA System Safety officers to hand out the brochures at the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th and 13th Street Market-Frankford Line Stations.]

"All of the students' work was exceptional. It made our job of picking the best submissions extremely difficult," said Fox.

In addition to SEPTA "swag" and having their work featured on brochures and a bus, the St. Mary's students received the VIP treatment with a special "behind the scenes" look at what "drives" the Authority to keep it running every day. The 26 students rode a bus through the bus wash and met operators at Southern Bus District; toured the Control Center; tested train and bus simulators; and met with SEPTA Police Chief Nestle and SEPTA K-9 and Special Operations Response Team (SORT) officers. They also had a lunchtime meeting with the Authority's General Manager Jeffrey Knueppel. "We carry more than a million people a day on our buses, trains and trolleys," Knueppel told the students. "Safety should always be the top priority when commuting on SEPTA vehicles and around our bus stops, stations and transportation centers. I appreciate all of your work to help us push out our safety messages."

SEPTA's new safety-themed wrapped bus is adorned with the artwork of St. Mary's students.

Phoebe Phanatic, the Phillie Phanatic's mother, helped SEPTA Assistant General Manager of System Safety Jim Fox honor St. Mary's students for their essays and artwork.

Twenty St. Mary's students joined the Authority's System Safety officers to serve as Junior Safety Officers and hand out brochures to commuters at Center City Market-Frankford-Line stations.

As part of the behind the scenes tour, students learned about the tools used by the SEPTA Police Department.

St. Mary's students had a chance to see what it is like to be a SEPTA Regional Rail engineer, taking the train simulator for a "spin".