The APTA Rail Safety & Security Awards program recognizes transit organizations and contractors for their commitment to improving the safety and security of transit employees, customers, and communities through application of effective safety and/or security initiatives. The award recipients should represent exemplary standards in the development and implementation of educational, training, and supportive programs that create and sustain a culture of safety within the workplace and result in exceptional service and security for the public and the communities served.

Modeled after the successful Bus Safety & Security Awards program, the Rail Awards are designed to not only recognize exceptional safety and security performance, but to also better serve the industry by benchmarking successful programs for others to adopt and derive similar benefits.  The winning submittals will be posted on the APTA website for access by all agencies and APTA members.


Safety and Security Excellence Awards are presented in four categories which are derived from the National Transit Database. For a more detailed description, see the Public Transportation Fact Book.

  • Commuter/Intercity Rail
  • Heavy Rail
  • Light Rail/Streetcar (includes “Intermediate Rail”)


Within each category group, one major award and one certificate will be presented.  These are as follows:

  • Gold Award – presented to the system from each category with the best overall safety or security achievement (for a potential total of 6 Awards, 3 for Safety and 3 for Security).
  • Certificate of Merit – presented to the system from each category considered by the subcommittee as a finalist in competition for the gold award of that category.

Nomination Instructions

  • Read each of the foregoing notes carefully AND the corresponding evaluation criteria (Rail Safety Award OR Rail Security Award) before preparing a nomination.
  • Provide safety/security program element descriptions on this nomination form and attach any data that documents their effectiveness.
  • Please attach any supporting documentation (i.e. letters, data, articles, etc.).  While the inclusion of attachments is allowed, the judging and scores will be evaluated based on the information contained under the four criteria sections.
  • All safety/security-related data and program summaries should be accurate and verifiable.
  • Along with the nomination form, submit a cover sheet with the signature of the agency’s Chief Executive Officers, or equivalent, attesting to the legitimacy of all information included.
  • No fee is required to enter the competition.

The nomination should include the following:

  • A brief description and history of the safety or security problem and the impact to the transit system;
  • The program or project that was implemented to address that problem, the goals and objectives identified to fix the problem;
  • A summary of the specific results achieved and the related benefits to the system.  What was the system like before the intervention and what was it like after.  Results should correlate directly to the specific program or project and the evidence of such can be shown in more detail in the “supporting evidence” section; and
  • A description of how this practice could be beneficially applied to other rail systems.


  • The evaluation criteria by which private operators are judged are identical to the public transportation systems.  Entries by private operators should be inclusive of all contracted services for the individual transit agency, and for categorization purposes, will be included in the category representing the largest portion of contracted service.
  • Transit systems that operate multiple modes of passenger rail service are invited to nominate up to one program or project each year in either safety or security for each of the rail modes it operates.
  • However, transit systems that operate both rail AND bus services are not permitted to nominate a program or project for which it also submitted a nomination for the Bus Safety & Security Excellence Awards, unless a significant change from the previous submittal can be justified. Applicants are encouraged to submit for both the Bus and Rail Awards for any given year; however each project or program should correspond with the unique operating environments and factors of each respective mode, and should be described as such in the information provided.
  • For the purpose of the awards, please submit all emergency management, emergency preparedness, and “all-hazards” programs and practices under the “Security” category for your mode.
  • APTA reserves the right to accept one award (safety or security) for any of the three modal categories, if the number of quality submittals does not warrant multiple awards. The highest scoring submittal irrespective of safety or security focus will be chosen.
  • In addition to recognizing the system or provider, information on the successful programs and projects will be posted to the APTA website as industry best practices.  This will allow the award recipient’s programs to help enrich the entire industry. As such, proprietary or copyright protected programs purchased from third party vendors which cannot be shared openly as work products of the transit agency or contract provider, will not be considered for any award.
  • Nominees selected to receive the Gold Award will be asked to produce and submit a 1-2 minute video that briefly describes the safety or security initiative and the benefits derived.

Return to the main Rail Safety & Security Excellence Awards page.

Updated: January 2021

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