MTA enlists Waze to keep motorists off railroad tracks

DEER PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- The MTA is partnering with Waze to improve safety at railroad crossings on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North. The initiative, which is debuting Thursday at 10 locations, will alert motorists of upcoming train tracks.

"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," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. "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."

Both railroads have implemented mandated grade crossing warning systems, by ensuring each public crossing has the required gates, red flashing lights and warning bells in addition to train horns blowing as they approach.

This is the first feature of its kind to debut on the app and is tied to LIRR's ongoing collaboration with Waze as part of the Connected Citizens Program, a free two-way data share of publicly available traffic information. Metro-North is also working closely with Waze in efforts to develop a similar partnership.

Thursday is the 10th International Level Crossing Awareness Day, and Waze has integrated a railroad crossing warning to alert users at 10 pilot locations across Long Island.

The rollout will continue until all 296 LIRR grade crossing locations are live on the app.

The pilot locations are:
--Bay Shore - 3rd Avenue
--Deer Park - Commack Road
--Deer Park - Executive Drive
--Farmingdale - Main Street
--Hampton Bays - Ponoquogue
--Hewlett - West Broadway
--Holbrook - Holbrook Road
--Oyster Bay - Willis Avenue
--Sayville - Snedicor Avenue
--Wyandanch - 18th Street

The partnership comes after an aggressive review of potential railroad crossing safety enhancements by the MTA, and the LIRR has recently taken additional steps to improve grade crossing safety. Last month, officials announced an accelerated plan to install flexible, four-feet high reflective delineators, as well as extended roadway markings and additional reflective devices to better alert drivers who may become confused by GPS directions while driving in darkness or inclement weather.

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