Why Gold Line service in Pasadena was disrupted this morning

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The above object — a lock shaped like a hand grenade — was spotted on the Gold Line tracks just west of the Sierra Madre Villa station in Pasadena about 10:20 a.m. The Gold Line between Sierra Madre Villa and Allen stations was subsequently shut down so the device could be investigated and removed by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Arsons/Explosives Unit.

Regular service on the Gold Line has resumed.

Which brings us to the PSA part of this post: If you see something, say something. The Sheriff’s Department can be reached in an emergency by phoning 888.950.SAFE (7233); if you use the Metro system, please put this number in your cell phone’s contact list.

The LASD also has a smartphone app that can be used to report problems in non-emergencies.


Safety reminder for holiday travelers: See Something, Say Something

This holiday season, Metro reminds all travelers to be safe – and help keep your transit system safe. If you “See Something, Say Something.” Here’s the press release from Metro:

Keeping Thanksgiving holiday weekend safe is the responsibility of every traveler and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and Metrolink join in a continuing effort to engage passengers by urging them to be safety eyes and ears.

“There is a lot of excitement and distraction as folks visit family and friends, but remember safety and security is not just the concern of law enforcement. We all have a stake in keeping transit safe,” said LASD Transit Services Bureau (TSB) Commander Ronene Anda. “Union Station is the busiest rail terminal in the West and keeping our passengers engaged in recognizing potential dangers helps everyone. In 2012, with the cooperation of our personnel and travelers, things went very smoothly and we had only one arrest at Union Station and that was for baggage theft.”

The Metro system has an exemplary safety record with .030 incidents of serious crime per 100,000 bus and rail boardings and Metrolink, likewise has an excellent performance with .010 incidents of serious crime per 100,000 train boardings. With so many people using the regional bus and rail system this Thanksgiving weekend travelers are reminded that if they see something that seems out of the ordinary, say something to authorities.

LASD-TSB patrols the Metro bus and rail system and Metrolink in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties. The Metro Rail and Metrolink systems combined have about 400,000 daily boardings.

“It is impossible to understate the power of 400,000 sets of eyes and ears in keeping our system safe,” said Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy. “Our bus passengers can tell the operator if there is a problem, rail travelers can use the intercom system in our trains, there is our security smartphone app – LA Metro Transit Watch, which is available free at the app store for iPhone and Android and people can call 911.”

Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, an alert Metrolink passenger informed a conductor after overhearing a rider make specific threats. The train was stopped and searched and the suspect arrested by sheriff’s deputies.

“With 42,000 daily boardings across six counties and many law enforcement jurisdictions means that we need the active engagement of our passengers,” said Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Mike DePallo. “Our patrons are an integral part of keeping our system as safe as possible.”

Union Station has about 60,000 daily rail boardings in addition to Metro and municipal bus service. Amtrak’s PacificSurfliner service between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, with 2.64 million boardings, is the second busiest rail corridor in the nation.

Photo: Juan Ocampo/Metro

Photo: Juan Ocampo/Metro

As daylight hours shorten, rules and tips for a safe commute

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

It’s that time of year again: Days are getting shorter, nights longer, the weather colder, and this past weekend, California officially “fell back” to Pacific Standard Time.

While safety is always a priority for Metro, as it gets darker earlier it’s important to exercise a little extra caution when commuting. Please keep the following rules and safety tips in mind when traveling by Metro Rail or Bus:

  • For Metro Rail customers: do not cross the tracks when gates are down, bells are ringing, and/or lights are flashing. This is not a recommendation, it’s the law. You put yourself in grave danger any time you ignore rail crossing signals, and you may be ticketed by transit deputies.
  • When signals indicate it is ok to cross the tracks, remain alert and proceed with care. Don’t assume a train isn’t nearby just because gates are up, lights are off, and you don’t initially hear or see it. Look both ways when crossing the tracks and listen.
  • Exercise caution when using headphones around buses and trains. Music on the go can be fun, but it can also distract you from your immediate surroundings as well as render you more vulnerable to theft. Consider forgoing headphones at night— when vision is reduced, hearing becomes even more important.
  • Horseplay is not permitted at bus stops and rail stations. Always an important rule, but even more vital in hours of low visibility.
  • Skateboarding and biking are not allowed on train platforms. Another prohibited activity made increasingly risky with decreased daylight. Always pick up your skateboard/walk your bike on platforms.
  • Consider wearing visible clothing. Bright colors are easier for drivers, train, and bus operators to spot in the dark. If you just hate bright colored clothing, consider getting a reflective wristband to wear during the evening hours you’re out and about.

Commuting by bike instead? The Street Smarts Guide available on the Metro Bike page contains tips about riding in rain and darkness.

For many Angelenos, driving after dark is so routine that it’s hard to believe fatalities on the road triple from day to night – yet it does, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fine tune your car for optimum nighttime performance and learn strategies for safe night driving at the DMV or Popular Mechanics.

However you commute this Fall and Winter, Metro thanks you for your caution and wishes you a safe journey!

A couple of photos and tips on safety when accessing center platforms on Blue, Expo and Gold Lines



First, a big thank you to readers and media for their interest and articles last week about Metro’s efforts to reduce suicides, particularly along the Blue Line, the agency’s longest and busiest light rail line.

That said, the week ended badly when on Friday evening a man was killed when he walked into the path of a southbound Blue Line train at the Vernon station. The incident remains under investigation but Metro has confirmed that the crossing gates, warning lights and bells were working.

As it happens I spent some time along the Blue Line corridor last week shooting photographs for Metro, including the two above that were taken at the Vernon station.

The point of the top photo: the Blue Line trains are big, heavy and long — and they pass within feet of the entrance and exit to the train platform that sits between the Blue Line’s southbound and northbound tracks.

The second photo was taken to illustrate the difficulty in gauging distances along the Blue Line, which features long, straight sections of track. You may think the train is still far and you have time to get across the tracks. But you may be wrong with deadly consequences.

After watching people come and go to and from the station, I think there are three easy things everyone can do that would help improve safety:

1. Take off your headphones.

2. Put your phone in your pocket.

3. Keep your head on a swivel.

I saw several people walking to or from the platform staring at their phones and not even looking up despite the presence of traffic on Vernon Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard and two sets of train tracks — for the Blue Line and for Union Pacific freight trains.

Metro’s safety ambassador has a neat little trick: he stands in the path of those folks staring at their phones, forcing them to look up or walk into him.

Please be careful, everyone. The Blue Line, Gold Line and Expo Line all have platforms in the center of the tracks. They can work fine — but like many other things in life, they do require your full attention in order for everyone to get where they are going safely.

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.


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.