Reader email, Blue Line safety edition

Our four part series on Blue Line safety garnered a lot of great feedback, some of which we’ll be featuring in this special edition of Reader email.

If you need a refresher, here are links to the entire series:

Russell Homan, Rail Fleet Service Manager for Metro, wrote to us with some clarifications of the safety features on Blue Line light rail vehicles:

Metro does not refer to the roof headlight as a “Cyclops” light.  A Cyclops is a one eyed monster which is not an accurate or favorable description of a Blue Line train.  The Cyclops light is a slang term started by some of our own employees.

The Blue Line trains have three headlights, including one mounted on the roof.

To catch the motorists attention, when the train operator uses the horn or gong, the two lower headlights will switch to high beam, and alternate flashing on and off between the left and right lights for 10-seconds.

Reader T.N. recognizes the efforts Metro has made to make the Blue Line safe but thinks that the line should have been grade separated from the beginning:

Even though Metro has made efforts to improve safety on the Metro Blue Line, vehicular and pedestrian accidents will continue to occur unless the agency made the effort to make the line grade almost entirely grade-separated, especially between Washington Station and Willow Station where most of the accidents occur.

Elevating or trenching parts of the line will greatly reduce the accidents, but it would be very expensive and be disruptive to Blue Line service.

If the predecessor agency of Metro built the Blue Line almost entirely grade-separated in the first place (in the similar vein of the freight-based Alameda Corridor), these accidents would almost never happen.

There’s more letters from readers about Blue Line safety issues, after the jump.

David Matsu writes with an idea to better put Blue Line fatalities in perspective when compared to auto fatalities:

Not as a defense, but as a counter-balancing statistic, it would be interesting to see the number of fatalities caused if all riders of the Blue Line had instead traveled by car. It would seem that you could come up with a fair estimate of the expected number of fatalities that would be caused to occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians if those riders had driven instead.

I would, of course, expect some accompanying explanation of why those numbers would be highly speculative but useful for comparison anyway.

A reader from Compton shares some suggestions for further safety improvements along the line:

I have seen the video on The Blue Line and safety, part II, and I have to say that is a lot of valuable information that should be passed to the community.

I have a few suggestions. To decrease accidents along the intersection that the Blue Line crosses it would be good to upgrade the intersections. For pedestrians, other than the red flashing lights when a train is approaching – which does not work – how about a signal of a train (Long Beach Blvd) and a voice activated system with lights on the ground, telling them that a train is coming?

In addition, officers enforcing the laws would send a strong message to the community. I have only seen officers at the intersections every once in a while, but it’s rare to see them. Pedestrians often walk on the Pacific Railway because when you get off Artesia Station, and you cannot get to the residential area of Compton without going to the industrial area – it’s a short cut. Others walk on it to get to work on the other side of the 91 Freeway.

Nice to hear that MTA cares about the Compton community.

Christopher MacKechnie writes in about station design along the Blue Line:

I enjoyed Fred’s review of Blue Line safety, but I would have liked more from him about how inconvenient Metro has designed some of these Blue Line stations.

Many stations have only one entrance and exit, making it inconvenient for people who come from the other direction. Washington Station is such an example.

Why not push Metro to spend a little money to make the stations more accessible and responsive to the public rather than blame people who don’t feel like they should have to go out of their way to board the Blue Line?

Dando Guerra thinks that the Blue Line safety crackdowns seem to unfairly punish pedestrians while letting motorists off easy:
I read the post about the Blue Line ‘crackdown’ which gave 113 tickets to pedestrians and only 4 to motorists (I’m not counting the cell phone citations to motorists because they are not ‘moving violations’).
Sadly, the cops crackdown on pedestrians continues depite efforts to make LA more pedestrian- and transit-friendly.  As I reported to Curbed LA last year, cops in Koreatown even went as far as to follow elderly women into buses to bring them out and ticket them for entering the crosswalk after the hand had begun flashing (even though they completed crossing the intersection before the light has changed).
What a disgrace that in Los Angeles, in our most ‘walkable’ and ‘transit-oriented’ districts the authorities are swarming the very pedestrians meant to use those spaces– while motorists making illegal turns, stopping in crosswalks, etc go largely unpunished.