The Metro Blue Line, which runs from Long Beach through Compton to downtown Los Angeles, has been plagued with accidents caused by drivers who try to beat the train across the tracks. What can be done?
* Linda Meadow
System safety manager, Metropolitan Transportation Authority “The two major causes of accidents on the Blue Line are motorists going around the gates and motorists making left turns around the train. In rail-
crossing safety, there are four things that work. You need to educate people about the line. You need to enforce the law. You need to get the crossings engineered properly, and you need to have good legislation so when you enforce something, it hurts. These are things that have worked for hundreds of years.
We are looking at some new technology applications. One of them is photo enforcement.”
* Robert J. New
Metro Rail coordinator, Los Angeles County Fire Department “I think there are two main issues for enhancing safety. The first method is public education, perhaps through flyers, beginning with youngsters at school, programs about safety and crossings. I would also suggest partnerships with private industry such as supermarket chains, perhaps the people who manufacture bags in the markets, so it brings it to the attention of the public.
The other method would be physical restraint, to increase the rail-crossing protection from the single barrier in each direction to what is sometimes referred to as the quad barrier, where a gate comes down.”
* Guadalupe Reynoso
Compton resident who lives near the Blue Line “I live 75 feet from the railroad, and I see the train from 4 o’clock in the morning until 11 at night. We’re most concerned about safety. We should educate the people. But the railroad’s been in operation for two years, and the people, they don’t care too much for their safety. The Blue Line can only urge and suggest they should not cross when the barriers are down.
We’ve had so much literature about safety. We all know the dangers when you’re trying to beat the train. This train goes up to 60 to 70 miles an hour. I’m an old man; age makes you aware.”
* Evan Anderson Braude
Long Beach councilman and Metropolitan Transportation Authority director “I’ve been real concerned about the safety issues. A number of proposals have come forward to try to make the Blue Line safer. One was to build fencing to keep people from running back and forth. That can be costly. We should have some sort of change in the kind of barriers there. Staff is now looking at about two or three different types of barriers: the traditional barrier, where an arm comes down and covers the one-way direction of traffic you’re coming from, but it only covers half the street. What we’re talking about now is having one arm that extends across the entire street.”