Meet the Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee: Read an interview with committee member Matt Holland

This week we begin a series of blog posts featuring interviews with the members of the Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee. You’ll get to know the dedicated people who work together to educate Canadians on rail safety, with the goal of preventing railway related injuries and deaths. These committee members work to develop Operation Lifesaver’s national direction, set goals and priorities and offer advice to National Director, Dan Di Tota, on how best to develop and implement Operation Lifesaver’s programs. Our first interview is with Matt Holland, Director of Safety and Security for GO Transit. GO Transit is Ontario’s interregional public transportation service for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton Area of Southern Ontario. GO Transit consists of an extensive network of train lines and bus routes that allow commuters direct service to downtown Toronto and other urban centres. On when he joined the Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee and how it happened: “I’ve been with the Advisory Committee for about two years. It’s part of GO Transit’s due diligence/corporate responsibility to be part of Operation Lifesaver, so our involvement goes back many years. I started in my role at GO Transit two years ago and at that time we didn’t have a seat on the advisory committee but I became involved because I understand and recognize the importance of the “Three E’s”:  Engineering, Enforcement and Education. GO Transit had a program for engineering and enforcement but we weren’t really at the table on the education piece. To be really effective you have to have all three pieces working together, so I stepped in to fill that void.” On why he joined the Advisory Committee and what he brings to the table: “I’m a former OPP officer and I’ve always had an interest in road safety and public safety – it’s an important part of my values. I’ve also worked for the Minister of Transportation in the Road Safety Marketing Office, where we were responsible for promoting road safety across Ontario. Safety has always been an important part of my life – I have a passion and commitment to the public.” On how Operation Lifesaver’s “E’s” are involved in his work every day: “I manage a program of about 80 transit safety officers who are designated as special constables, so they’re a tier of law enforcement just below the police. We also have a Near Miss Program where we partner with train crews, who identify areas where there have been pedestrian crossings or a near miss with a vehicle that tried to run or beat the signals at a level crossing. We work with them to investigate those incidents and we follow-up with the corridor maintenance group to try and solve the problems and prevent trespassing from happening.” On why it’s so important for GO Transit to partner with Operation Lifesaver: “We’re involved because safety is a priority for GO Transit. We have an extremely high safety record and that’s because of all of the proactive measures we take. Prevention is important in the spectrum of safety and we can’t do it alone - the partnership with Operation Lifesaver connects us with all of the other stakeholders in the industry. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel - a lot of people have already traveled down this path and we can benefit from their experience and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.” Check back next week for our second Advisory Committee interview with Daniel Lafontaine, Chief of Engineering for Transport Canada.