Light Rail vs. Monorail Safety

Monorails run on an exclusive grade-separated guideway. The way monorails are designed make monorail derailments virtually impossible. In contrast, light rail accidents can and do occur (Why Do Light Rail Accidents Occur?)

Woman dies in light-rail accident
The Associated Press on Sunday, October 28




A 73-year-old woman died Friday evening after a TRAX train crushed her car.
Salt Lake City firefighters try to extricate a motorist who hit a TRAX train on Friday. The driver of the car was killed, and several train passengers were injured at the intersection of 800 South and 200 West when the car and the TRAX train collided.

Chuck Wing, Deseret News

Killed in the accident was Joan Menlove, Bountiful. According to Salt Lake City police, just before 5 p.m. Menlove was travelling west on 800 South when she apparently ran a red light at 200 West. The northbound TRAX train hit Menlove's car and crushed most of it underneath the train.
      Menlove was declared dead at the scene. Salt Lake police Capt. Scott Atkinson said police did not have enough information to determine if she ran the red light intentionally or if the sun had any effect on her vision. He also did not know how fast she was traveling.
      Five passengers on the TRAX train were sent to area hospitals, although the injuries were not life-threatening. About a dozen people were riding in the first car of the train, said Kent Jorgenson, community relations director for the Utah Transit Authority. He did not know how many were on the other two train cars, although he said it was not unusual for the train to be filled close to capacity.
      Once TRAX trains get to the downtown area, they never travel faster than 25 mph, Jorgenson said. Based on the short-distance that the train skidded after hitting the car, he said that it was not moving very fast at impact.

Annie Ross, 18, of Salt Lake City, left, is comforted by her friend Kathy Byerly after Ross witnessed the accident, rushed to the scene and tried in vain to help the driver of the car.

Chuck Wing, Deseret News

      The accident derailed the train and knocked over at least one TRAX power pole. Roads surrounding the accident scene were closed and the TRAX line was closed between the Gallivan Plaza (300 South) and the Ballpark (1300 South) stations. Rush-hour passengers were transferred to buses and moved between the stations on alternate routes. TRAX will be open Saturday.
      This is the first fatality involving a collision between an automobile and a TRAX train, Jorgenson said. Another fatality involved a pedestrian.
      The cleanup, which involved lifting the train off of the car, wasn't completed until about 9 p.m. Crews had to replace a TRAX power pole, and the train would likely be out-of-service until they could get new parts.
      Annie Ross, who was at her sister's house near the intersection, watched the accident happen and immediately ran to help Menlove. When she got there, the steering wheel had pinned Menlove's legs, and she had started to slump onto the passenger seat.
      "I asked her if she was all right, and she said, 'Yes dear, I'm fine,' " Ross said. "Then she laid down on the seat. . . . I thought she was going into a coma."
      Along with a nurse that was riding on TRAX and other people who had been working nearby, Ross just tried to keep Menlove awake and aware until paramedics arrived.
      "I tried, I really tried," she said. "I tried my hardest."
      Matt Morrow, who was stopped at the light going east on 800 South when the accident happened, said that Menlove tried "to beat the light" and then ran into the train. While most of the passengers on the train ran away from the accident, Morrow and others who watched the accident ran to help.
      While others worked with Menlove in the car, Morrow, who has CPR and first-aid training, said he started checking passengers on the train. He also tried to calm the driver of the train.
      "He was in shock. . . . He didn't know what was going on," Morrow said. "He barely knew who he was. I talked to him as long as I could, until somebody else came who could help him."
      The worst injury that he saw on the train, Morrow said, was a man with cuts on his head that had been hit by the power pole that was knocked into the train.


From the Monorail Society Yahoo Discussion Group Archive about the Salt Lake City TRAX Accident:

In theMONORAILsociety@y..., "Bruce T. Forbes" <bruceman@q...> wrote:

Yesterday when I got off work I decided to ride TRAX home instead of the bus - my bus is currently on a 15-minute detour due to construction and I was too impatient to get home - after all, it was Friday night! No sooner were we on the TRAX train than the driver was announcing a delay. We were off-loaded and told that there was an accident blocking both tracks between Judiciary Square and Ballpark stations and they were trying to get shuttle buses to drive us around the accident scene. Some of us understood this meant not getting home for a very long time, and we took off walking. Original city blocks here in Salt Lake City are ten acre squares, so a walk from Second South & State Street to Thirteenth South & Second West was a walk of eleven blocks south and two blocks west… 660 feet to each side of the block, and each street 136 feet wide. For someone as lazy and out of shape as myself, it was quite a walk, but we still got to Ballpark station before the people waiting for buses. (Notice that it is not called `rapid' transit anymore…) Those of us who followed the tracks to Ballpark got to see the accident scene. A driver of a small white car - we could not tell the make or model - had run a red light and the northbound TRAX train broadsided it. The momentum of the little car lifted the TRAX train off the tracks (the steel wheels have a flange of only three-eighths of an inch!) and pulled it along with it so that is was also blocking the southbound tracks. It shoved it hard enough into one of the electrical supports that the pole was embedded two-thirds of the way through the TRAX car.

The little car that had run the red light - what did it look like? Take a piece of clay and mold a little car. Then, take your hand and roll it back into a cigar shape so that only the front and back betrays the fact that it was once molded into a car shape, and then set the front of your model train down on it hard enough that the front wheels of the train are only about one scale inch off the track. This is what the car looked like under the front of the TRAX train. Literally. I heard the emergency workers telling one of the bystanders that they could hear the woman inside the wreckage but could not figure out where in the rolled-up car she was actually at - or why she was alive. I have not read the morning paper yet, so as I am writing this I do not know if she survived or not.

I waited until myself and those walking with me were a respectful distance from the accident scene before I asked - "Would this be a good time to discuss the benefits of monorail?" I had a very interested group, and we did discuss the fact that cars running red lights and stupid pedestrians cannot get hit by monorails. And that monorails do not have to stop at intersections, and that the "flange" of a straddle, Alweg-type monorail is much, much more than three-eighths of an inch. Of course someone asked: "But what about the price?" We discussed initial price, maintenance price, and price in human suffering. Eight people promised me they would surf into the Monorail Society webpage to learn more.

Because I was one of those who chose to walk instead of wait for the shuttle busses, I was only an hour late getting to the TRAX station where my wife was still waiting for me. She had heard about the accident on the radio while on the way to the station to pick me up and had stayed, waiting for me. The radio had not given little details like was it a southbound or northbound train, so she did not know what to expect. As I got into the car I smiled and said. "Well, I took the train to avoid a fifteen-minute detour…"


From the 'Hark the Herald' Salt Lake City newspaper article:

SALT LAKE CITY -- A 73-year-old driver became the second person to die in a train collision since the city's light-rail system opened 20 months ago.

Joan Menlove of Bountiful was pronounced dead Friday after she ran a red light and smashed into the front car of a train traveling at 25 mph. Her Chrysler Concorde was trapped and dragged under the car for 30 yards.

Five of the train's passengers, including its conductor, were taken to local hospitals with nonfatal injuries, police said.

The trains "are so quiet, a lot of people don't hear them. It can sneak right up on you," said Kent Jorganson, a spokesman for the Utah Transit Authority.

It was one of several traffic accidents involving automobiles or pedestrians and TRAX trains. Last March, Delores Betenes, 63, was rushing across tracks to catch a commuter train when it struck and killed her.

Dozens of rescue officials rushed to Friday's crash scene in Salt Lake City. But the twisted wreckage prevented crews from quickly freeing Menlove from her car.

Witnesses said she failed to stop for a red light.

Jorganson said light-rail trains weighing up to 48,000 pounds can take up to a half-mile to stop.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A2.

  DID YOU KNOW??? According to the Monorail Society, 'Light Rail isn't really light. Light refers to its capacity. The train cars are actually heavier than heavy rail. Why? So than can withstand COLLISION.'


TRAX Train Cuts Small Car in Two; Occupants Survive

By Jacob Santini
The Salt Lake Tribune, February 08, 2002

A Honda Civic was cut in half Thursday when it collided with a UTA TRAX train near 500 South and 1100 East. The front was pinned against a power pole while the back was carried down the tracks. (Danny La/The Salt Lake Tribune)



    A TRAX light rail train ripped a car in half in a collision near the University of Utah on Thursday, but the two men in the Honda Civic survived the crash.
    Conflicting reports from witnesses slowed the investigation, but Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Scott Freitag said it appeared the train and the car were both heading east on 500 South at about 11:30 a.m. when the car's driver attempted to turn north onto 1100 East and collided with the train.
    The car was pushed across the intersection and smashed into a power pole that holds the wires for the trains. The car was ripped in two as its front end became wedged between the train and the pole.
    The train continued for about 50 more feet before it stopped with the rear of the car pinned under its front end.
    James Mahana, who ran from his home to the car after hearing the crash, said the two men were unconscious when he arrived at the car. Before paramedics arrived, the two regained consciousness and began screaming for help, he said.
    Mahana said he and other witnesses held the driver, who was leaning against the passenger, because the passenger was complaining he could not breathe.
    It took about 20 minutes to free the men from the wreckage, Freitag said. "It's absolutely amazing [the driver] survived the impact," he said. The men's names were not immediately released.
    The driver was transported to a Salt Lake City hospital in critical condition with head injuries, but police later reported his condition had been upgraded. His passenger was also taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
    Utah Transit Authority spokesman Kris McBride said the train was carrying about 40 passengers -- mostly Olympic volunteers. Riders were taken to their destinations by bus.
    UTA closed the University of Utah line at 900 South, which re-opened at about 2:30 p.m.


Woman injured in TRAX crash

Deseret News Monday, Thursday, April 11, 2002

A collision between a TRAX train and a car left a woman in critical condition Thursday morning. The woman, 34, was traveling alone on 3300 South when she crashed into the side of the train near 200 West. No one on the train was injured.
Officers don't know why the car crashed through crossing arms and into the side of a TRAX train.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

    The car was thrown off the road onto a grassy parkway in front of Mountain States Supply Inc., about 90 feet away.
    Investigators don't know why the woman crashed through the arms and into the side of the train, South Salt Lake officer Darin Sweeten said.
    The woman was flown to LDS Hospital in critical condition with major trauma to her entire body, Sweeten said. Authorities did not immediately release the identity of the woman, pending notification of her relatives.
    The TRAX train suffered minor damage, and trains were delayed briefly. The train was able to resume its route to the Delta Center.



Transportation officials state that it is 'not unusual' to have two deaths occur with a new light rail system; Light rail advocates blame the pedestrians and motorists

Does it really matter to the pedestrians and motorists that were killed that it was their fault?

(our emphasis in BOLD below)

Light rail earns safety accolades

Pedestrians and motorists blamed in nearly all accidents

Deseret News Monday, November 05, 2001


Since TRAX opened in December 1999, two people have died in accidents involving light-rail vehicles. But transportation experts say that's not unusual for new systems of its kind.


Utah Transit Authority community relations director Kent Jorgenson said light-rail systems always experience a learning curve as motorists and pedestrians adjust to driving and walking alongside the 89,000-pound vehicles.

In October, a Bountiful woman was killed when, witnesses said, her vehicle ran a red light at 200 West while traveling west on 800 South and was struck by a northbound TRAX car.

In March 2000, a pedestrian died when she was hit by a train she was running to catch in South Salt Lake.

There have been 24 accidents on TRAX since the system opened. Jorgenson said only two motorists have been transported to area hospitals and that UTA has never been cited for causing an accident.


Other cities with comparable light-rail systems have also experienced accidents and fatalities, but all say light rail is safe and hasn't been the cause of most accidents.


In Sacramento, light-rail vehicles are involved in an accident about once every three weeks, according to Mike Wiley of the Sacramento Regional Transit District. By comparison, Wiley said there is an accident every day involving one of the transit system's buses. Most of the accidents with both the light-rail trains and buses are minor, he said.

And accidents in Sacramento, as in Utah, are typically the fault of the motorist or pedestrian. "In none of them has it been found that the design of the rail vehicle is a contributing factor," Wiley said. "They basically involve a motorist who made an illegal movement."

Since light rail came to Sacramento in March 1987, there have been 13 fatalities. Wiley said about half of those have been suicides.  In Dallas, there have been three fatalities since light rail's beginning in June 1996. All three were pedestrians.

Morgan Lyons, spokesman for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, said only three miles of DART's 23-mile light-rail line are median running, or run alongside cars. He said those three miles are where DART has had the largest number of accidents.

Accidents are more common with buses, he said, but buses are more widely used than the light-rail trains.

In Portland, 13 people have died since 1986, but only one of them was in a vehicle. One other was riding a bicycle and the rest were pedestrians, said Tri-Met MAX communication director Mary Fetsch. Most of the accidents involved a pedestrian walking in a right of way.

Greg Hull, director of operations, safety and security for the American Public Transportation Association, said the vast majority of accidents involving light-rail vehicles are the fault of the motorist or pedestrian. He estimated that fewer than 1 percent of all accidents have been caused by a malfunction in a train or operator error.

Hull said the first few years of light-rail service in a community are usually the worst for accidents.

 "What typically is seen is a learning or adaptation curve," he said. "There is more frequency (of accidents) in the first several years of operation."

Education programs and brochures work to educate those who need to get used to light-rail systems. Lyons said DART has an aggressive customer safety program and has visited every school along the light-rail corridor, as well as other community groups.  "We really want to draw attention to these trains," he said.

As UTA prepares to open a light-rail line from the University of Utah to downtown, similar methods of education are being used, Jorgenson said.  Regarding the safety of public transportation in general, Hull said the National Safety Council has said it is 15 times safer than traveling by car.  "The people behind the controls of the trains and buses are driving professionals," he said. "You can't say the same for someone operating a personal vehicle."

Again, Motorists and Pedestrians Blamed for Deaths

Officials erect $200,000 sign- Could YOU find a better use for $200,000?

Police patrols necessary to write citations- Shouldn't the police have better things to do?

(our emphasis in BOLD below)

Trying to Catch Pedestrians' Attention

Douglas P. Shuit
Los Angeles Times
February 10, 2001

The MTA unveiled a state-of-the-art pedestrian warning sign Friday for its Metro Rail Blue Line, part of continuing efforts to turn around what has been the deadliest light rail system in California.

The fiber optic sign, said to be the only one of its kind in the nation, hangs over the pedestrian walkway to the Vernon Avenue station near Long Beach Avenue.

At least 16 accidents, including four deaths, have occurred at the intersection since 1990. Overall, 54 pedestrians and drivers have been killed along the Blue Line since it began running between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach. The line had more fatalities than California's four other light rail systems combined in the six years ending with 1999, California Public Utilities Commission records show.

The heavy number of accidents at the Vernon crossing made it a prime candidate for testing the sign, said Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, who paid for it with a $200,000 federal grant.

Should the sign prove successful--and it has been effective in early tests--the MTA plans to introduce it at other problem intersections.

The sign's vivid yellow-on-black images begin flashing and moving whenever a train approaches the intersection. Its designers say they spent months interviewing pedestrians until they got the graphics just right. Vijay Khawani, director of MTA Rail Safety Operations, said the agency tested signs with text and graphics and decided on the graphics because of language difficulties.

"We found this particular sign was the preferred sign by the majority of the people we surveyed," Khawani said.

The MTA blames the accidents on motorists and pedestrians who walk or drive against signals.

After 10 deaths during 1999, the MTA got through 2000 with just one fatality. Officials credit their ongoing safety campaign.

One of the steps taken by the MTA was increasing police patrols along the Blue Line under contracts with the Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department. Officers have been writing citations by the basketfuls for pedestrians and drivers caught ignoring signals. One sheriff's deputy wrote 1,898 citations alone in 2000.

The MTA also lobbied the Legislature to increase fines from $104 to $271, which took effect last year.

Also, a demonstration project using four barrier gates along the tracks at 124th Street and Willowbrook Avenue, rather than the traditional two, has proved so successful that the MTA will install them at 10 other intersections.

As part of their campaign, officials have delivered safety messages to 50,000 public school students, church congregations and community groups.


It's too late for Monorail in Salt Lake City. Will it be too late for Monorail in Austin, TX?

(our emphasis in BOLD below)

First TRAX Fatality Claims Pedestrian

By Michael Vigh and Brandon Loomis
The Salt Lake Tribune
Thursday, March 30, 2000

traxfatal.jpg (28875 bytes)
Police and Fire Workers discuss lifting the train that struck
a female pedestrian at 188 W. 3900 South
Photo by Leah Hogsten - The Salt Lake Tribune

Hours after the first fatal accident involving a TRAX train Wednesday, witnesses were still grappling with the question of why a 63-year-old woman thought she could beat the train across the tracks.  "I was just thinking, 'What is [she] thinking?' " said Julie Naylor, who was waiting to board the train. "I knew there was no way [she] was going to make it. You have to look both ways before you cross." 

Delores Betenes of Salt Lake City was hit and dragged about 50 yards underneath an approaching 89,000-pound commuter train at 7:50 a.m. just south of the Meadowbrook Station at 188 W. 3900 South. She apparently was running to the station to catch the train.  Firefighters, police officers and Utah Transportation Authority workers lifted the train with a diesel-powered hydraulic lift and removed her crushed body several hours after the accident.  Witnesses said Betenes was trying to beat the incoming train across a marked pedestrian walkway when she was struck by the northbound vehicle moving at about 22 mph. She was hit about 100 yards south of the station.

Police said Betenes had just dropped off her car at the station's parking lot when she was struck as she sprinted across the tracks. The two-car train was carrying up to 200 passengers.  No one else was injured in the accident and there was minimal damage to the train, said Coralie Alder, UTA spokeswoman. Light-rail service was halted for about 25 minutes before the northbound trains were rerouted at a crossover station at 4100 South.  Witnesses said the driver slammed on his brakes but was unable to avoid hitting Betenes. The driver received grief counseling and will be placed on paid administrative leave.

"This has been devastating to our entire organization and everyone involved, especially for our TRAX operator," said UTA General Manager John Inglish. "We try hard to prevent accidents from occurring and will continue to do so."   Witness Betty Langeberg said the driver frantically blew his whistle, rang his bell and screeched the train's brakes moments before the fatal impact.  "I thought, 'She's not going to make it,' " Langeberg said. "Then I went 'Oh my God, she didn't make it.' That's something you never want to see, I'll tell you."

Initial reports that Betenes' body was severed were premature, South Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Beau Babka said. He added there was no indication Betenes had intentionally placed herself in front of the train.  "From what the witnesses have told us, we don't think this is anything other than an accident," he said.   UTA officials expressed sympathy for Betenes' family and hoped the incident would remind people to pay attention and look both ways when they cross the tracks.   "If you have to run to catch a train, it's not the train for you," said Ed Buchanan, UTA rail-safety administrator. "Wait until the next train arrives."

Wednesday's incident marked the first time a pedestrian was involved in a TRAX accident. It was the 11th accident overall since test runs began last fall and the commuter system opened in December.  Seven of those were non-injury collisions with cars, and two were collisions in which the motorist was injured. One was a derailment caused by bolts on a track switch rattling loose, and train passengers suffered minor injuries.

Anti-light-rail activists pounced on the fatal accident as evidence that light rail is dangerous and that the system should not be expanded or should be built as an elevated monorail.  "I don't want to sound like I'm saying 'I told you so,' but we can probably expect about one [death] a year," said Michael Packard, a light-rail critic with the Coalition for Accountable Government.  Similar accidents were common during the trolley's heyday in America, Packard said. He advocates a monorail instead of the planned light-rail spur to the University of Utah.  "We should be building 21st-century transportation technologies," he said. "These were great in their centuries, but those centuries are gone."  A pro-light-rail business coalition coordinated by the Downtown Alliance had planned to announce its formation Wednesday afternoon, but the news conference was delayed at least until next week due to the accident, alliance marketing director Roni Thomas said.

Light-rail systems nationwide average about 15 accidents each per year, but most of those are not fatal, according to the American Public Transit Association. In 1996, that rate came to 323 collisions on systems that carried 300 million passengers 42 million miles.  Transit officials around the country generally report that most pedestrian deaths occur when people "trespass" on the tracks.  In Utah, car-related deaths far outnumber train accidents, though anti-rail activists also point out that more people ride in cars. Statewide from 1992 to 1999, roads and highways averaged 330 deaths annually. In a more direct comparison to Wednesday's accident, 39 of those yearly deaths are pedestrians struck by cars.  The fatality rate for all passenger rail is .51 per 100 million passenger miles, according to the latest statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For buses, the fatality rate is .63 and for cars .79.

Article from Salt Lake Tribune

Accident is First TRAX Fatality

By Jennifer Dobner and Zack Van Eyck
Deseret News
Thursday, March 30, 2000

SOUTH SALT LAKE -- A woman who appeared to be running to catch a northbound TRAX train was hit by the train and killed Wednesday morning.

The woman, who remained unidentified and pinned beneath the train for several hours after the 7:48 a.m. accident near the Meadowbrook Station, was thought to have died instantly, South Salt Lake Assistant Police Chief Beau Babka said. The Meadowbrook station is at 188 W. 3900 South.  Train 1022B, which was probably moving at about 22 mph at the time of impact, stopped about 50 yards from where it struck the woman. A team of firefighters, police detectives and Utah Transportation Authority operations workers planned to hydraulically lift the train to free the woman's body, Babka said.

The accident marks the first fatality for TRAX since trains began test runs last summer, and the first accident involving a pedestrian. At least eight other accidents have involved automobiles. In the most serious of those, a motorist was seriously injured. TRAX has also had a derailment. Late last month, 22 people were injured when the third car on a three-car train came off the tracks and slammed into a wire-support pole. UTA determined a loose bolt on a directional switch caused the problem but is still investigating the incident.

Betty Langeberg saw Wednesday's fatal accident from the platform where she was waiting for a train. "The lady was coming from the parking lot. She ran across the tracks. The TRAX driver was blowing his horn waving his arms, ringing his bell," Langeberg said moments after the accident. "He ran right over her."  Other witnesses said the train came to a jerking stop, throwing passengers against each other inside the train.  "It sounded like rocks hitting the train, and then the driver hit the brakes and hit them hard," said Curtis Newman, a nurse and attorney who rides the train daily from 9000 South to downtown Salt Lake City. "Then we just sat there. There was no announcement. For a long time we didn't know what had happened."

Federal statistics show light-rail systems have far fewer accidents and fatalities per passenger than public bus systems.  In 1997, the last complete year for which data are available from the Federal Transit Administration, there were 86 accidents and 0.29 fatalities per 100,000 passengers on the nation's light-rail lines. For the same year, there were 309 fatalities and 1.157 fatalities per 100,000 passengers on the nation's public bus systems.

UTA drew praise from the American Public Transit Association last fall for its proactive efforts to make Utahns aware of light-rail safety issues. The agency chose to be fairly aggressive in its promotion of rail safety in part because of what it learned from other transit agencies. UTA, however, was criticized by some for its methods -- in particular, a promotional ad with a grisly description of what could happen if a careless person gets in the way of a TRAX train.

UTA spokeswoman Coralie Alder said the agency will review the accident and determine whether changes should be made to UTA's light-rail safety program. The train operator, who was badly shaken after the accident, will be placed on paid administrative leave and will receive counseling, she said. "We've done our best to make this a safe system and educate the public," Alder said, adding that the incident should serve as a reminder "to pay attention, look for trains in both directions and when you're near TRAX just always be aware."  Twice in the past decade, UTA has been recognized as the safest transit system of its size in the country.

Babka said an initial evaluation by police indicates that UTA probably could not have prevented the accident. Crossing gates had dropped across 3900 South to prevent vehicle traffic. The train operator was sounding the horn, as is required at all road crossings, and the pedestrian walkway is marked with a yellow warning sign advising those on foot to look in both directions for approaching trains.  "Obviously this probably didn't have to happen," Babka said. "It's a very simplistic type of safety situation. You have a moving train that weighs thousands and thousands of pounds. You just don't make bad choices when you know you are not going to win."

But the accident did not come as a surprise to light-rail opponents. Drew Chamberlain, a South Jordan resident who has led the local opposition to light-rail under the umbrella of Citizens Against Light Rail, predicted before TRAX opened that it would claim the lives of between three to five people each year.  Chamberlain declined comment Wednesday, saying only that his group has suggested "for literally years now" ways in which UTA could improve light-rail safety.  He said the group may make recommendations to UTA after it studies the circumstances of the accident.

Nationally, light rail has been responsible for dozens of deaths. The majority of those killed have been pedestrians. Dallas' DART system, which opened the first leg of a 20-mile route in June 1996, operated for 31 months without a fatality until two people -- a jaywalking boy and a woman who simply walked in front of an oncoming train -- were killed early last year. Fifty-three people -- 31 pedestrians and 22 automobile occupants -- have been killed on Los Angeles' Blue Line since it opened in July 1990. Portland's 18-mile west-side MAX was blamed for five fatalities in the first 15 months of service that began in September 1998.  Denver's 5.3-mile system, which operates on downtown streets, was responsible for just one fatality in its first five-plus years of service.

TRAX officials rerouted trains after the accident, moving both northbound and southbound trains along the southbound rails through the area. Buses were also brought to transport some passengers.

Article by Deseret News


SUV vs. Light Rail Train: SUV Loses

1 Dead, 1 Hurt after MD train, SUV Collide
The Washington Post
August 8, 2000

A light rail train and a sport-utility vehicle collided in northern Baltimore County last night, killing one person in the car and seriously injuring the other, police said. None of the train's 46 passengers was seriously injured.

The Mass Transit Administration train collided with the SUV at West Seminary Road and Railroad Avenue in Lutherville, near the Falls Road station, about 10:50 p.m., said Baltimore County police Cpl. Jim Elliott.

Witnesses said the car passed two other vehicles and drove around a crossing gate arm onto the tracks, according to MTA spokesman Anthony Brown. The train was traveling at 45 mph at the time of the crash, Brown said.

Elliott said the seriously injured person, a female, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The other person, a male, was brought to Greater Baltimore Medical Center and was later pronounced dead. Both are under 21, he said.

MTA officials expected that the crash would not disrupt train service this morning.


TRAX train jumps tracks in SLC
The Daily Herald on Tuesday, February 22

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A light rail train derailed Monday afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, injuring a number of holiday riders on board.

The train was headed south on 700 South at about 3:15 p.m. when it jumped the track near West Temple and crashed into a utility pole. No other trains or cars were involved.

An estimated 22 people were treated for injuries, mostly bumps and bruises, and about seven were transported to hospitals where they were treated and released.

Utah Transit Authority officials believed the accident was caused by a malfunctioning switch. The train's wheels apparently caught on the switch after coming around a curve, jarring the third car off the tracks. The train then slid across the pavement, slammed sideways into a utility pole and bounced into the street.

Those on board described the sound of a scraping sound on the rails, followed by a bang when the train hit the pole, throwing riders from their seats.

"You just heard a crash, then you're down on the floor and people are piling on top of you," said passenger Susan Brown.

"It was chaos," said passenger Randell Donel.

Woman struck, killed by streetcar

CBC Toronto

TORONTO — A 70 year-old woman was killed last night, after being hit by a TTC streetcar.

At around 6:20, the woman was crossing Spadina at St. Andrew Street. Police say she was crossing against the pedestrian "do not walk" signal.

A TTC streetcar going south on Spadina had a green transit signal, according to police. It was going about 30 kilometres an hour. The operator applied the emergency brakes, but was unable to avoid striking the pedestrian.

Her name is being withheld at the request of her family.

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