In 1998, in response to the high frequency of Blue Line accidents, the MTA commissioned a study conducted by engineering firm Booz-Allen, Hamilton, Inc. to evaluate the cause of the incidents on the most-deadly and accident-prone light rail line in the country. The full text of the study is here
The major points, related to the Expo Line are found in section 1.4 of the report, titled What Makes the Metro Blue Different from Other Light Rail Systems?:
“One aspect of this study is to analyze those factors that may contribute to the MBL’s high accident rate as compared to other light rail systems. There are several factors that contribute to the accident rate including:
“1. The MBL travels through a high population density area with a diverse varied social-economic community. The high density results in increased pedestrian and automobile traffic as compared to other transit properties. In addition, the communities through which the MBL travels requires special attention to language and literacy issues when disseminating public outreach and education information.”
“2. The MBL traverses through an industrial center of Los Angeles. The industrial center results in increased trucking and shipping traffic near the MBL. The increased truck traffic results in increased driver frustration due to slower street traffic speeds. This frustration may result in increased crossing gate running and illegal left turns.”
“4. The MBL has one of the highest ridership counts for light rail lines in the Country. This factor is perhaps the most important contributor to the grade crossing accident rate. The high ridership results in increased pedestrian traffic near stations as compared to other light rail systems. In addition, although MTA Operations does not allow high passenger loads dictate safe operations, there is pressure to maintain travel times and headway schedule requirements (e.g., passenger trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach in less than one hour).”
All of these conditions are exacerbated on the Expo Line. The ridership per mile is expected to greater than the Blue Line; the Expo Line passes through areas with slower street traffic speeds and industrial truck traffic as well; and the population densities are greater. It is clear, the MTA is willfully and deliberately making the same mistakes, and have not learned their lesson.
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