Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Safety of Grade Level Railroad Crossings (Follow-Up Report)

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has two commuter railroads: the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), running between New York City and Long Island, and Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North), running between New York City and upstate New York and Connecticut. The LIRR has 290 grade-level crossings (where railroad tracks intersect a highway on the same level as the highway); Metro-North has 98 active crossings. In audit 2004-S-63, we examined the actions taken by the MTA regarding safety at LIRR and Metro-North grade-level crossings. We found that for both the LIRR and Metro-North, the warning devices (gates, flashing lights) at selected crossings performed in accordance with certain operating standards and generally were inspected at the required intervals.

However, the LIRR and Metro-North needed to improve public awareness of safety requirements, as we observed numerous pedestrians and motorists (including school bus and truck operators) who failed to heed the warning devices and committed other safety violations at the crossings. We noted that safety outreach efforts would be more effective if they were directed more towards adults and if they were coordinated with the MTA Police Department. We also found that Metro-North did not follow proper procedures when it removed certain crossing gates and deactivated certain warning devices. When we followed up on our audit recommendations, we found that MTA officials had taken action to implement most of the recommendations, but additional actions were still needed.

For a complete copy of Report 2007-F-31 click here.