Blue Line train, Metro Bus accident in downtown Los Angeles; Blue Line resumes normal service

Photo by Luis Inzunza/Metro.

UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.: The Blue Line is resuming normal service between Washington-7th/Metro.

A Blue Line train collided with a Metro bus Line 51 in downtown Los Angeles at approx. 6:56 a.m. The train was heading southbound when it hit the southbound bus at Washington and San Pedro on the south side of downtown. Bus and train were both full.

Bus bridges are in place to shuttle Blue Line passengers between 7th/Metro and Washington. The Expo Line has resumed service with residual delays at all stations.

Here is the most recent update from the Los Angeles Fire Department website:

Train vs. Vehicle 8/26/2012
*UPDATE: 1900 S San Pedro St* Most injuries appear minor; Some taken by
ambulance to area hosp; Updated patient count pending – Brian
Humphrey###

The L.A. Times is reporting that about 48 people received mostly minor injuries in the incident. The Fire Department says that the injured were “most if not all from the bus.”

UPDATE, 9:40 a.m.: The LAFD just posted this to their Twitter feed:

LAFD ‏@LAFD

*UPDATE: 1900 S San Pedro St* Final patient count = 32 total; All in good-to-fair condition (31 minor injury; 1 ill); NFD -Brian Humphrey###

The cause of the accident is under investigation, according to Metro. The agency also said that one rail car and the bus suffered major damage.

The 51 Metro local bus runs between Wilshire Center and the Artesia Transit Center, including a long stretch on San Pedro Street. The Blue Line runs down the middle of Washington between Flower Street and Long Beach Avenue.

If you were delayed because of the accident this morning and need verification for your employer or school please call Metro Customer Relations at 213-922-6235 or fax them at 213-922-6988.

Unlike New York, there will be no blasting to build subway in Los Angeles

Earlier today, something went wrong with construction of New York City’s Second Avenue Subway when a planned underground blast broke through the surface sending dirt and debris into the air and causing other property damage. Here’s coverage by the New York Times and the New York Daily News — the Daily News actually has photos of the blast.

This is certainly unfortunate and we will be watching as our colleagues in New York work to figure out what caused this accident. It’s worth noting that no blasting at all is planned here in Los Angeles as part of the construction of either the Regional Connector or the Westside Subway Extension, both of which require tunnels to be built.

In its cover story on this project earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine noted that geology is a critical factor in determining how tunnels and stations get built. The geology is quite different in Los Angeles than it is in New York.

We understand that there have been hundreds and hundreds of planned blasts for the Second Avenue Subway over the last year that have gone off without a hitch. This is the first time anything like this has happened. On the positive side, it appears that there weren’t any injuries from this accident and that the scene was cleaned up with streets reopened within an hour. We’ll keep monitoring this and pass along any relevant information.

Designing a subway to withstand an earthquake

Metro’s subway rode out the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but a section of the Santa Monica Freeway collapsed and other area roads suffered serious damage.

After a pair of 4.5 magnitude earthquakes were felt throughout the Los Angeles area earlier this week, a Source reader asked this question:

What magnitude are the tunnels or stations designed to withstand?

Here is the answer from Metro’s engineering and operations staff, as well as consultants who work with Metro to design projects:

There is no specific magnitude that subways are designed to universally withstand. The strength and flexibility the subway is designed for depends on the characteristics of earthquake faults in the area and their proximity to the structure being designed. In other words, the main question engineers ask is this: how strong is the ground shaking likely to be at the tunnels and stations?

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Recap of today's Metro Board meeting

The Metro Board approved amendments to the Measure R ordinance and its extension, which included the motion by Director John Fasana to allow for the transfer of funds between the transit capital and highway capital subfunds within the same subregion.

Board members voted 10 - 1 to approve the Fasana amendment and to integrate the amendment into the existing Measure R Extension Ordinance, with Board Chairman Antonovich voting against and Director Mark Ridley-Thomas abstaining. The remaining portions of the item to place the amended Ordinance on the Nov. 6 ballot passed 9 – 3, with directors Antonovich, Knabe and Ridley-Thomas voting no. Mayor Villaraigosa was absent from today’s proceedings.

The amendments will be considered by voters with the Measure R extension language on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Board Chairman Antonovich proposed that members consider items 4 and 5 together within the context of a reevaluation of safety procedures. Here are links to the individual items:

  •  Update on the Expo Line / BLue Line junction, regarding Metro and CPUC investigation of an alignment issue on the junction at Washington Boulevard and Flower Street, where the Blue and Expo Lines merge. The report from the Metro Inspector General is still in progress and should be completed in the fall. 
  • And the Yaroslavsky motion to convene a Metro Blue Line Task Force to examine safety procedures and strategies for the Blue Line operation.

Directors approved the Yaroslavsky motion as amended by Director Mark Ridley-Thomas to establish public information protocols to report accident and service disruption information when incidents occur and regularly report the information to news media and via social media.

Review of today's Metro Board meeting

•The Board approved a motion by Board Chair and Supervisor Mike Antonovich that Metro take a position of support for a federal loan application for Desert Xpress project, which proposes to connect Las Vegas, Victorville and Palmdale by high-speed rail. The motion does not involve any financial support for the project from Metro. California’s high-speed rail project is also planned to have a station in Palmdale, which could allow for transfers between the two rail systems. At this point, federal officials are still reviewing the loan application from Desert Xpress.

•The Board also approved a motion by Antonovich that calls for Metro to develop a plan to improve transfers and schedule coordination with other transit agencies — for example, between Metrolink and local bus service. Another motion by Antonovich, also approved by the Board, requires Metro to develop a regional airport connectivity plan to connect Metrolink and Metro to LAX, Bob Hope Airport, Ontario Airport and Palmdale and Long Beach airports

•The Board approved a plan to proceed with the construction methods on Flower Street for the Regional Connector that was approved as part of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report. That would involve using a tunnel machine north of 4th Street and cut-and-cover method to dig the tunnel for the train between 4th and south of 6th.

The general manager for the Westin Bonaventure hotel, which has filed a lawsuit challenging the project’s environmental studies, said that his client would drop its suit if tunneling extends past 5th Street on Flower. Otherwise, the attorney said that the hotel could lose over half of its business and half the staff could lose its jobs.

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Safer pedestrian crossings for the Expo Line

“Tiger stripes” at Expo/USC crossing. Photo by Anna Chen/Metro

Some of you may have noticed the neat new stripes at the crossings of 23rd Street Station and Expo/USC Station.

It’s all part of making Expo Line’s pedestrian crossings that much safer. Not only do the stripes designate proper crossing areas, they remind everyone to be a little bit more aware of the train tracks. Even if you’ve got your head down and eyes glued to your phone, the glittery stripes are hard to miss.

The tiger stripes will be installed at all non-gated pedestrian crossings along the Expo Line over the next few months and eventually cover crossings at the Blue and Gold Lines as well.

Metro statement on letter from state PUC regarding track at Expo Line-Blue Line junction

Metro CEO Art Leahy and Expo Line Construction Authority CEO Rick Thorpe issued a joint statement Monday regarding a letter recently received from the California Public Utilities Commission requesting a replacement to a piece of track work at the Metro Expo/Blue Line junction.

Both Leahy and Thorpe also talked with the media regarding the next steps that will include better defining exactly what the CPUC wants and how both agencies can work together to develop a plan of action and implementation. Below is the joint statement issued today:

Metro and the Expo Construction Authority have received from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) a directive to replace a piece of track work at the Metro Expo and Blue Line junction and finish the implementation of the automatic train protection. Our two agencies will work closely to develop and implement a plan that satisfies the concerns of the CPUC.

Our first step is to correct a defect in a small portion of the track commonly called the “frog” as it relates to the junction where the new Expo Line meets the Metro Blue Line at Washington and Flower near downtown Los Angeles. This was completed last Friday.

Separately, we will focus on ensuring the automatic train protection system is operating consistent with the requirements of the CPUC.

We want to assure the public that Metro and the Expo Construction Authority have been monitoring these issues for some time, and at no time was safety ever compromised. Trains have made over 100,000 trips through this junction area traveling less than 10 miles per hour. Daily inspections will continue while we resolve this issue with the CPUC.

Metro and the Expo Construction Authority will ensure the work is performed to the highest standard and will accept nothing less.

 

Missing persons found with help of Metro bus operator

Two children and a mentally disabled adult who went missing from Long Beach on Saturday night were discovered Monday morning at the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station with the help of Metro bus operator George Vazquez.

Vazquez was operating Line 230 when he noticed the trio at the Sylmar Metrolink Station terminal and felt they matched the description of the missing persons from the bulletin put out by the Long Beach Police Department. He notified Mark Solomon and Gerardo Zavaleta at Metro bus control, who in turn notified the San Fernando Police Department, LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The authorities responded to the location and verified that it was the missing woman and children, who were found none the worse for wear.

Thanks to Vazquez’s keen eye, the woman and children were safely escorted by authorities back to Long Beach.

Sobering and powerful rail safety PSA from New Jersey Transit

 

Our friends at New Jersey Transit have a safety campaign underway to address a long-standing problem in the Garden State and pretty much everywhere elsewhere in the United States — people walking on train tracks.

The two new videos — each just 30 seconds — do not mince words or images. It’s every bit as applicable to our light rail lines and commuter rail lines here in Southern California.

 

Metro helps combat human sex trafficking

County Supervisor Don Knabe at the event this morning. Photo by Anna Chen/Metro.

Los Angeles County and Metro Board Member Don Knabe will join local law enforcement officials, Metro executives and local businesses Thursday morning to unveil a multimedia awareness campaign aimed at informing the public about the heinous crime of child sex trafficking.

The press event will take place Thursday, May 31, at 9 a.m. outside the main entrance of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. Joining Supervisor Knabe will be:

  • Leroy D. Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
  • Jim McDonnell, Police Chief, City of Long Beach
  • Art Leahy, CEO, Metro
  • Lee Ann Muller, President, Clear Channel Outdoor Southern California Division President
  • Chris Kelly, Former Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook & Founder of the Safer California Foundation

The campaign, originally called for by Supervisor Knabe, will appear at Metro train stations and bus stops, rail cars and buses. The information will also appear on Metro’s website.

Thanks to a generous donation by Clear Channel, over 50 digital displays and 15 traditional billboards will broadcast the message across Los Angeles County.