Suicide rate on Metro Blue Line alarms officials

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy monitors pedestrians Monday to make sure they don't get near the tracks when trains are approaching.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Although the number of accidental deaths on the Metro Blue Line appear to be falling, the suicide rate remains “troubling and high,” transit officials announced Monday.

The 22-mile line that connects downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach has the dubious distinction as the most fatal transit line in Southern California. Since its opening in 1990, the line has seen more suicides -- 31 -- than the county’s four other light-rail lines combined. This year alone, there have been three suicides on the Blue Line. In the last 18 months, there have been seven.

Recent investments, including new signage, special gates at pedestrian-heavy crossings and 14 new safety officers who warn passengers about oncoming trains have helped stem the number of accidental deaths, officials said. This year, the Blue Line has had one non-suicide death. At this time last year, there had been four.


So far, the safety officers, all retired train or bus operators, have stopped three potential suicides.

“We can’t stop them all,” L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairwoman Diane DuBois told reporters Monday. The tracks intersect roadways and walkways in more than 100 places.

Metro officials encouraged passengers to report unusual behavior by calling the county’s suicide crisis line listed on posters at Blue Line stations: (877) 727-4747. The hotline, they said, is for those considering suicide as well as for people on the platform who notice a passenger behaving in an unusual way.

In 1999, the Blue Line became California’s deadliest rail transit route, with 50 accidents that killed 10 people and injured 40. Most involved collisions with motor vehicles at street crossings.

Crossings have waist-high metal gates, flashing red lights and bells that ring when trains are approaching. Sheriff’s deputies that patrol the Metro lines can issue tickets with fines of at least $100 to people who cross tracks while trains are approaching.


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