Video: At-grade crossing design for the Gold Line Foothill Extension

This video from the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority offers up an introduction to grade crossing design. Why are grade crossings so important? Because they represent the most vulnerable part of any rail line.

The Foothill Extension will make use of state-of-the-art grade crossings to ensure safety along the entire line. The video features animated visualizations that show how quad gates, pedestrian gates, bells and horns all work together to ensure the tracks are clear by the time a train passes.

Recent Foothill Extension posts on The Source:

Statistics on crime on Metro buses and trains

Because of the fatal stabbing on the Red Line in August — the first slaying in the history of the subway since it opened in 1993 — there has been some understandable discussion about safety and crime on Metro buses and trains.

I sat down with Commander Patrick J. Jordan on Tuesday to discuss safety on the Metro system. Commander Jordan serves as the Chief of Transit Police for Metro, a job he has held for the past two years.

The good news: crime is very low on the Metro system — certainly lower than in many surrounding communities. Over the past five years, the number of the most serious crimes has gone down and the number of arrests and citations issued is up.

The bad news: the Metro system is not crime-free and it’s not immune to some of the ills of the cities that it serves. That’s just the unfortunate reality.

The Sheriff’s Department is contracted by Metro to oversee security on the agency’s vast bus and train system. As part of that job, the Sheriff’s Department maintains statistics on crime on the Metro system. I’ve posted several pages from the most recent report — from August — above and below. It’s the first time that Metro has published this type of detailed crime statistics.

Some points from my conversation with Commander Jordan:

•There were 1,216 “part one crimes” reported on Metro buses and trains in 2010 or about 2.77 crimes for every million boardings. Part one crimes include homicide, rape/attempted rape, assault, robbery, burglary, grand theft and petty theft. That compares to 2.63 part one crimes per million riders on the MBTA system in Boston in 2010, 6.68 on the Washington WMATA system and 11.03 on the DART system in Dallas. “Your chances of being a victim of violent crime on the transit system are incredibly low,” said Commander Jordan.

•As the charts lower in this post show, most of the crimes on Metro involve theft.

•On the Metro system, the Blue Line and Green Line have the highest part one crime rates — the Blue Line has 14.3 per million riders and the Green Line has 19.7 per million riders. Commander Jordan attributes some of the Blue Line problems to a small group of people — five were arrested last week — who have been stealing electronics and jewelry from riders. On the Green Line, the crime rates are greatly influenced by car thefts and car break-ins in station parking lots, which are owned by Caltrans. Metro is seeking to become owner of those lots in order to beef up security. Here’s a staff report on the issue that is part of the Metro Board’s agenda at its Thursday meeting.

•How to prevent crime? Commander Jordan has several recommendations:

–Many of the crimes reported on Metro invoke thieves snatching-and-grabbing cell phones or jewelry from riders and then running from a rail station into the less-confined environment of the street. Be careful while talking on cell phones near station entrances and either don’t wear valuable jewelry — especially anything with gold — or tuck it under your clothes or put it out of view.

–If you witness a crime, call the Sheriff as soon as possible at 888-950-SAFE (7233) from either a cell phone or Metro emergency phone and try to note exactly when and where a crime occurred. There are cameras in every rail car and station and noting the precise time that a crime happened makes it much easier for the Deputies to determine if the crime was videotaped.

–If you park your car at at Rail or bus station, put valuables in the trunk or lock them in the glove compartment. It may only be a cell phone charger to you, but that can be easily sold quickly for a few dollars on the street — the exact appeal for thieves looking to fund their drug purchases.

•If you want to compare crime rates on Metro versus crime rates for a variety of neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, here is the crime database maintained by the Los Angeles Times using data from the LAPD and Sheriff’s Department. It’s worth noting that crimes are measured differently. In the database, they’re displayed as violent and property crimes per 10,000 people. Example: The database shows that North Hollywood over the past six months had about 143 violent and property crimes combined per 10,000 residents. The Red Line in August had about 10 part one and part two type crimes combined per million boardings. So the Red Line’s crime rate works out to much less than NoHo as a whole. That’s hardly surprising: there’s one Red Line station in NoHo and the city as a whole is a lot, lot larger than one train station.

•One of the advantages of Metro’s proof-of-payment system is that fare checks are fairly common according to the statistics and allow Deputies to have a lot of contact with riders. That accomplishes two goals: 1) Many fare evaders are caught; 2) Some evaders are also caught for other crimes they’ve committed. It’s the broken windows theory of law enforcement: policing the little stuff helps police the big stuff. By the way, based on audits and fare checks by Deputies, Commander Jordan says that about two percent of Metro riders don’t pay fares but that the real number could be slightly higher.

Here are crime statistics for 2011, through August. It is important to note that some of the numbers on the types of crime change over time depending on the outcome of criminal cases in courts. Part two crimes include battery, lesser sex offenses, carrying illegal weapons and some types of narcotics crimes.

Click above to see a larger chart.


Click above to see a larger chart.


Charts showing crimes reported in August on each of Metro’s rail lines, the Orange Line and the bus system are after the jump.

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More security as 9/11 approaches

As some of you undoubtedly have noticed, there’s an increased security presence along Metro rail, including highly visible uniformed personnel and those charming (but very capable) K-9 dog teams. It’s a precautionary measure, in light of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 Sunday.

While there have been no specific threats against the transit system, the Sheriff’s Department and Metro are remaining vigilant, which is good news for those of us who ride the rails daily.

Along with a more visible presence, the Sheriffs are conducting random baggage searches and additional plain clothes personnel are keeping watch. Real-time monitoring of the rail system is ongoing through Metro’s Emergency Operations Center. The goal is to enhance our safety and confidence as 9/11 approaches.

Lane markings work beginning on 110 freeway part of ExpressLanes project

Below is the construction notice from the ExpressLanes project, which is converting carpool lanes on parts of the 10 and 110 freeways to congestion pricing lanes that most carpoolers will still use for free and single motorists will be able to access by paying a toll — the work actually began Monday night. All the details are on the project website.

Click above for a larger image.


Go Metro – back to school!

Students board the Gold Line.

Photo by plattypus1 via Flickr.

Despite the heat wave, summer is just about over for many Los Angeles students. Major bummer, I know.

As students begrudgingly prep for the early morning wake-up calls and the endless homework, there’s one school supply that should be on every student’s list: a Student TAP Card.

A Student TAP Card gives K-12 students access to reduced fares: $24 for a 30-day pass or – for those who don’t ride every school day – a $1 one-way fare. College students and vocational school students are eligible for reduced fares too – a College/Vocational TAP Card slashes the price of a 30-day pass to $36.

It’s important to know that students (or their parents) need to apply for these special TAP Cards. They’re not available for purchase on buses or at rail stations. Links to the applications are available on the Reduced Fares page of

Parents who are intimidated by the prospect of sending their kids off to school on a bus or train should definitely take a look at our three-part series (originally posted last year) entitled Back to school on transit.

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Sheriff's deputies arrest suspect in Metro Red Line stabbing

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a suspect in the stabbing death of a passenger during a fight on a Metro Red Line train in Hollywood on Friday, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reported today.

The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Gene Sim, described as a transient, who was found in Buena Park and arrested without incident, the department reported.

Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement in response to the arrest.

I congratulate Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca and his team on making an arrest in this case. I am confident they will conduct the case in a swift and responsible manner.

I want subway riders to know they are safe. Our transit system as well as our streets and neighborhoods are the safest they’ve been in a generation. Crime in Los Angeles is down to levels we have not seen since the Eisenhower Administration. Immediately following the incident Friday night, the Sheriff’s Department increased the number of deputies on the Red Line and additional deputies will be on patrol during the evening hours.

Though we cannot prevent every random act of violence, I will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Sheriff’s department and the MTA to keep public transit safe in Los Angeles. I have asked the MTA and the Sheriff’s Department to review security on the rail and bus system to ensure we maintain appropriate levels of security as we build the 21st Century transit network Angelenos deserve.

The Metro Rail system remains safe, said Metro Transit Security Commander Pat Jordan of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. In the wake of the homicide, Sheriff’s deputies have increased patrols in the subway system.

Described as an isolated and rare occurrence, the homicide is the first to occur on a subway train. The Metro Red Line opened in 1993. More than one billion passengers have traveled the Metro Rail system since the Blue Line opened in 1990.

Update regarding coverage of the incident on The Source: The incident was widely reported in the media. LASD homicide detectives were on scene to give reporters updates on the incident and investigation underway. Metro is not the investigating authority and does not compromise an ongoing investigation with independent reporting.

Metrolink secures more funds for anti-collision system

The commuter rail agency received $46.3 million from several sources. There is a federal requirement to have the anti-collision system in place by 2015; Metrolink officials are hoping to get their system done well ahead of that deadline. Metrolink last October awarded a $120-million contract to build the GPS-based system known as positive train control (PTC).

Here’s the news release from Metrolink, which is partially funded by Metro:

Metrolink Secures $45.3 Million in PTC Funding

Southern Californians will be the first to benefit from new, life-saving safety technology

Los Angeles – Metrolink’s plans to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) ahead of the federal mandate received a boost last week when the agency received $45.3 million dollars in funds to support the installation of the new rail safety technology.

PTC is collision avoidance technology that monitors and controls train movements remotely, and can prevent train-to-train collisions, unauthorized train movement into a work-zone, movement of a train through a switch left in the wrong position and trains exceeding authorized speeds. PTC implementation is mandated for all rail providers by 2015 by the federal Rail Safety Improvement Act.

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A distracted driving reminder

In case you need a reminder that you’re endangering the lives of others when screwing around with your cell phone when behind the wheel, then check out the above, courtesy of the folks from Pixar.

Too bad the video doesn’t also tackle the issue of distracted walking: I can’t begin to count how many pedestrians I see walking across the street while thumbing away on their phones. Really? You’re “what are you wearing?” text can’t wait another 10 seconds? Same applies to people walking around train platforms texting and with headphones on.

By the way, you can screw around with your cell phone all you want when riding transit. You may not always get a signal — hey AT&T, you do know Highland Park exists, right? — but there’s always off-line distractions, too.

Video: multimodal chaos in NYC

Roads that are safe for all modes of transport – automobiles, bikes and pedestrians – can prove to be a real challenge. While it’s common to blame whatever mode you’re not using for transgressions in safety, the above video proves that all mode users are guilty of breaking the rules in attempt to save a little time.

Aside from its clever use of graphics, this video serves as a reminder of how we each need to take responsibility for our safety on the streets, and that the rules are there to be followed. Is it really worth endangering your life and the lives of others just to shave a few seconds from your commute?