Metro has responded to the call made by USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg to make America’s roadways safer through the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS). As part of the NRSS initiative, Metro committed to new actions to reduce roadway collisions and make LA County’s roads safer for pedestrians and other road users.
“Safety is Metro’s number one priority, and that includes safety of pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and others on LA County’s roads.” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “Metro is proud to join with the U.S. Department of Transportation on the National Roadway Safety Strategy to make our transit operations as safe as they can be.”
According to a 2018 report by the American Public Transit Association (APTA) and the Vision Zero Safety Network, using public transit is 10 times safer than traveling by automobile. With a fleet of more than 2,200 buses, 9 heavy rail and 61 light rail trains and 1,493 non-revenue vehicles, Metro is committed to continual improvement of its safety operations.
“Far too many people die on LA County’s roads due to traffic accidents and pedestrian collisions,” said Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro. “While transit is one of the safest ways to travel, we still can do more to ensure that our own operations are as safe as possible. By joining the National Roadway Safety Strategy, we are doubling down on our commitment to safety, whether on the Metro rail system or on the streets and roads of LA County.”
To make Metro’s transit operations even safer, Metro will collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to develop mitigation strategies for bus vs vehicle and bus vs pedestrian collisions. Anticipated actions include:
•Reviewing the design of Metro-owned bus stops to identify and resolve any noted hazards that could result in injury to patrons.
•Exploring the deployment of new collision avoidance technology on buses.
•Evaluating new systems to enhance operator and maintenance operations worker (MOW) safety along rail lines and on rail rights-of-way (ROW).
•Partnering with LA County cities to install more bus-only lanes to separate vehicles from buses to reduce the potential for collisions.
•Installing reflective tape/graphics on the back of buses to enhance visibility of buses and reduce rear-end collisions.
•Hiring more bus operators to facilitate shorter operator assignments reducing potential for operator fatigue.
In addition to these actions, the Metro Board adopted the Street Safety, Data Sharing and Collaboration Policy in June 2022 to help improve safety for street users in Los Angeles County. While Metro does not own local streets, the agency can positively impact, influence and partner for street safety – especially for the County’s most vulnerable people and at locations with a transit nexus such as at light rail crossings and at or near bus stops.
The plan includes more than two dozen concrete actions Metro will take in its role as transit operator, funder, planner and builder, data provider, legislative advocate, educator and transportation innovator. In February 2023, USDOT announced a $6.3 million grant to support Metro’s regional street safety plan.
Metro has also been a national leader in the planning and development of first/last mile pedestrian and active transportation improvements to facilitate safer mobility to Metro’s transit stops. Recognizing that most transit journeys start and end on foot, it’s critically important that pedestrians, cyclists and other road users have safe ways to access Metro’s transit network.
Since 2016, Metro has integrated the planning of first/last mile improvements as part of all new rail and bus rapid transit projects. Once planning documents are complete, Metro hands them off to municipal partners, who deploy these planned improvements, saving them valuable time and resources. Metro has completed First/Last Mile plans for more than 60 current and future transit stations and stops so far and is currently engaged in First/Last mile planning for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, among other large projects.