Metro urges public to help stop rash of suicides along the Blue Line

A media event was held at the Blue Line’s Willowbrook station on Monday morning — please see the above video. Here are safety stats we posted last month and below is the news release from Metro:

September is suicide prevention month
Fatal accidents plummet on Metro Blue Line, but suicide rate rising

Elected officials, Metro executives, a Sheriff commander and suicide prevention experts today joined a former Metro train operator in appealing to the public to help stop the rash of suicides on the Metro Blue Line.

Three of the four deaths on the Metro Blue Line in 2013 have been suicides. Last year at this time there were eight deaths on the line including four suicides.

“Light rail trains operate at grade in urban areas throughout the world without the prevalence of suicide we’re experiencing on the Metro Blue Line,” said Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois. “I’m very concerned about this and am appealing to the public to help Metro reverse the trend. We continue to invest in safety improvements couple with education and enforcement of safety laws. And while our rail safety ambassadors and operators have thwarted some suicide attempts, we can’t stop them all.”

Metro can keep upgrading its safety warning devises as much as it needs, but without the public participation accidents and suicides will keep happening.”

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A fun safety video from our friends at MBTA in Boston

Given that it’s Rail Safety Month in California, I thought it would be appropriate to post a new video from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which provides bus and rail service in the Greater Boston area.

It’s always great to see government agencies be creative — and reject the notion that government has to be a dry, boring endeavor disconnected from the people who fund it. The above video reminds me of another great one from last year, courtesy of the Metro system in Melbourne, Australia.

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California Rail Safety month begins with a message to be safe

California Rail Safety Month begins with a message to be safe

This Metrolink train car isn't shy about making its point. Photo by Juan Ocampo for Metro.

Metrolink and Metro held a media event this morning at Union Station to kick off California Rail Safety Month. The news release from Metro is posted after the jump.

A simple reminder from Operation Lifesaver to kick off California Rail Safety Month: see tracks, think train – because it could save your life. While Metro has installed new safety improvements along the tracks, it's up to you to pay attention and be responsible so you can get to where you're going safely.

Check out the following video for examples of what NOT to do around trains.

For the stats on accidents and Metro's press release on Rail Safety Month, check out this previous Source post.

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Metro promotes Rail Safety Month — and a look at Metro Rail’s accident numbers

There was a very no-nonsense article posted on Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s website today about Blue Line safety. The piece doesn’t pull any punches, noting that the number of accidents and fatalities on the Blue Line remains higher than Metro’s other rail lines.

One point I want to clarify because the article combines numbers for 2012 and 2013. In the past calendar year — since last Aug. 29 — there have been five fatalities on the Blue Line, including three suicides.

If breaking it down by calendar year, in 2012 there were 35 accidents and nine fatalities on the Blue Line, including four suicides. Through nearly eight months of 2013, there have been 21 accidents and three fatalities on the Blue Line, including two suicides.

This is obviously a grim kind of progress when it comes to deadly accidents — if ‘progress’ is an the appropriate word. At least the numbers are seemingly moving in the right direction, perhaps a reflection of some of the work Metro has done in the past year to improve rail safety. Those efforts are detailed both in the ZevWeb article and below.

For those who want to see the actual statistics, here are the accident numbers for 2012:

Blue Line: 35 accidents, 9 fatalities

Expo Line: 5 accidents, 0 fatalities

Green Line: 1 accident, 0 fatalities

Gold Line: 5 accidents, 0 fatalities

Red Line: 1 accident, 1 fatality

2012 total: 47 accidents, 10 fatalities (five suicides)

Here are the accident numbers for 2013:

Blue Line: 22 accidents, 4 fatalities

Expo Line: 2 accidents, 0 fatalities

Green Line: 1 accident, 0 fatalities

Gold Line: 3 accidents, 0 fatalities

Red Line: 3 accidents, 1 fatality

2013 total: 31 accidents, five fatalities (three suicides)

Metro is holding a media event next week to promote Rail Safety Month in California. Here is the news release from Metro:

During California Rail Safety Month in September, Metro Is Reminding the Public to Observe the Three Es and Stay Alert Around the Trains

September is Rail Safety month in California, making it the perfect time to remind everyone to practice safe behavior near Metro trains. In 2009, the California Legislature designated September Rail Safety Month to encourage government, industry and local citizens to improve rail crossing safety and support for rail safety.

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Metro introduces smart phone security app to report transit-related crimes

A screen grab from the new app as seen on an iPhone.

 

Below is the news release from Metro. Here is the link to the app in the Apple Store. And here is the link to the app in the Google Play store for Android phones.

This is very important: customers who want to report a serious crime or emergency should first, if possible, call 9-1-1 or use the emergency telephones located in Metro Rail stations. The Sheriff’s Department — which patrols the Metro system — will respond to reports from the app, but it’s always best to call.

Officials from Metro and the Sheriff’s Department also held a press event this morning at Union Station to announce the app. “My highest priority has been to enhance safety for passengers who ride Metro Rail and Metro buses,” said Metro Board of Director Chairman Michael D. Antonovich, adding the app is part and parcel of that effort.

“If the Metro system was a city, it would be the safest city in the United States,” said Metro Deputy CEO Paul Taylor. “And we’re trying to make it safer…this new tool is a way to help the public help us.”

Here is the news release:

Metro Introduces Smartphone Security App to Report Transit-Related Crimes

In a new initiative to improve safety and security on buses and trains, Metro announced today a workable smartphone app that will allow patrons to report transit-related crimes and suspicious activity that may occur throughout the Metro system.

“A vital new component in our comprehensive effort to enhance safety for our riders and operators, this smartphone app allows the public to assist law enforcement by reporting suspicious and criminal activity in a timely manner,” said Metro Board Chair Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

The new LA Metro Transit Watch smartphone app is part of the new TransitWatchLA.org website that engages the riding public to help Los Angeles County Sherriff Department (LASD) deputies and security personnel protect employees and patrons.

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The cause of this morning’s Blue/Expo Line delays

There were delays on the Blue Line and Expo Line this morning when a car made a left turn directly into the path of an outbound train on Flower Street. The result?

Photo: Metro

Photo: Metro

Trains always move faster than you think. Please do not try to beat a train, whether you are on foot or in a vehicle. Obey the warning lights and signals and pay attention while driving near the tracks.

LASD and Metro announce arrest of suspect who allegedly assaulted bus operator

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Metro today announced the arrest of a Reseda man wanted in connection with the assault on a transit bus operator last Friday, May 10, 2013. The suspect, Anthony Gamez, 24, was taken into custody at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, 2013 on an Orange Line bus after the on-duty bus operator recognized Gamez from photographs displayed on a “wanted” poster distributed earlier in the day.

One of the reasons the operator identified the suspect was because he was apparently wearing the same clothing depicted in surveillance photos from Friday’s incident. The driver called the dispatch center and deputies from the Transit Services Bureau made the arrest at Canoga Avenue and Oxnard Street in Van Nuys. Sheriff’s detectives will be seeking Felony Battery charges.

The assault occurred Friday about 7:35 p.m. as the operator of the bus stopped at the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The patron engaged in a fare dispute with the operator and attacked the driver, knocking him unconscious. The injured operator was transported to a hospital and subsequently released.

Gamez is also being investigated in connection with another assault on a bus operator that occurred Monday, May 13, 2013 at 1:40 p.m. at Fallbrook Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard in West Hills under similar circumstances as Friday’s incident.


Metro offers reward for information on assault of bus operator

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Here is the news release from Metro and photos of the suspect are above:

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Chair of Metro’s Board of Directors today announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect who recently boarded a Metro bus and assaulted a Metro bus operator causing injuries.

The incident occurred on Friday, May 10 at approximately 7:35 p.m. as the Metro bus was traveling along Ventura Boulevard at Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.

The suspect boarded Metro Bus line 150 in Studio City and became angry with the Bus Operator over a fare dispute. The suspect then punched the bus operator in the head knocking him unconscious. The suspect then exits the bus and flees the location in an unknown direction.

The suspect is described as a male/Hispanic in his mid-20’s, 5’8’’ to 5’10” in height with a thin build and long shoulder length dark hair in a ponytail. He was last seen wearing a black Chicago Bulls hat, black T-shirt, with black baggy jeans and black shoes with white soles.

The Metro bus operator, a six-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), suffered injuries to his head and was transported to Sherman Oaks Hospital where he was treated and later released. He remains off duty due to his injuries and emotional trauma suffered as a result of the attack.

Anyone with information regarding this crime on board a Metro bus should contact the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Transit Services Bureau, and speak with Detective James Eggers at (213) 922-3625.

Reward funding is made possible by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Sheriff’s patrols target customer safety and other issues on the Blue Line

The Blue Line's Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station. Photo by Sean_Marshall via Flickr creative commons.

The Blue Line’s Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station. Photo by Sean_Marshall via Flickr creative commons.

Earlier this month, from April 8 to 10, the Transit Bureau Service of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department began a new operational concept to improve safety on the Blue Line.

The concept is called TRUST (Transit Rail Urban Saturation Team) and it consists of deputies saturating parts of the Blue Line and conducting conducting zero tolerance patrols on the trains and station platforms. It’s a combination of fare enforcement, train patrols, fixed posts for police and mobile, random foot patrols — and the LASD is saying more of these type of operations will be done in the future.

During the three days that the operation took place: 895 citations were issued as well as 142 misdemeanor arrests and 11 felony arrests, according to the LASD. This initial iteration focused on the part of the line between the Firestone and Rosa Parks stations. 

“Our goal is to reduce the conditions that breed crime, disorder and insecurity. Operation TRUST is the first in a series of targeted enforcement efforts to improve security and enhance the riding experience for transit patrons and transit employees,” wrote the Sheriff’s Department in a news release.

The Blue Line had an average of 88,023 weekday boardings in February, the latest ridership statistics available. Also from the Sheriff’s news release:

Each day 350,000 passengers ride the Metro Rail system in Los Angeles and 1.2 million passengers ride Metro Buses. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is responsible for securing the Metro system and is committed to ensuring a low level of crime and disorder.

Partner to prevent or report crime by contacting your local sheriff’s station or police department. Or, if you wish to remain anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

Please remember, if you SEE SOMETHING that you believe is suspicious or doesn’t look right to you, SAY SOMETHING by calling: (888) 950-SAFE (7233), or your local police department.

New Metro website stresses safety

Here’s the news release from Metro:

New Metro Web Site Stresses Safety

Riders Should Be Aware of their Surroundings Following Boston Bombings

Heightened transit security remains in effect a day after a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing at least three and injuring scores. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) officials continue intensifying patrols and encouraging riders to be aware.

“We are reminding rail passengers that if they see something they should say something,” Sheriff’s Commander Pat Jordan of the Metro Transit Services Bureau said. “We want every rider to know they are empowered to help keep our system safe.”

To give riders tools for increasing transit awareness, the L.A. County Sheriff’s department has launched a new web site, TransitWatchLA.org. It is full of up to date information on safety and security enhancements. TransitWatchLA.org was funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and uses a wealth of the department’s resources.

“Our signature initiative is See Something Say Something,” Jordan said. “It means involving every passenger in safety and security efforts.”

Most travelers keep their luggage near them. “If you see a bag left unattended, that is when you should say something,” Jordan noted.  “Also, if a stranger asks you to watch a bag while they go somewhere else. You should report that.”

If riders see a suspicious package or witness a crime, the easiest way to contact the sheriff’s department is to call 9-1-1. You can also contact Metro sheriff’s deputies and security personnel by calling (888) 950-SAFE (7233). Be ready to give the dispatcher a description of the unattended item or suspicious behavior, the exact location, the bus or train number and direction you are traveling. Riders can also alert Metro security by pushing the button at the emergency intercom in stations or on trains.