Friday, February 5, 2010

Los Angeles Tries ‘Sting’ Operation To Curtail Violations along Accident-Prone At-Grade Line

An officer cites LA pedestrian after a potentially fatal violation.
The at-grade vs elevated issue debate over Honolulu’s future rail system isn’t going away soon as long as Governor Lingle continues to verbalize a preference for a lower profile project. It’s therefore understandable that we’re going to keep the at-grade accident issue alive, too.

At-grade rail has a tremendously higher accident rate than elevated rail – not surprising since the former is in the mix of pedestrian and street traffic that the latter completely avoids.

A Los Angeles-based blog writes that LA sheriff’s deputies and police cited more than 300 violations in a four-hour period yesterday morning along the city’s notoriously dangerous Blue Line, which is described as perhaps the most dangerous in the nation. An online search finds ample evidence of crashes and fatalities involving this at-grade system.

Building Honolulu’s system elevated as designed will virtually eliminate the potential for injury and death here. As City Department of Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka said two weeks ago:

“You’re elevated. You’re totally separated from the roadway. You’re in a protected environment and completely separated out…. What cars are flying at that level above the ground? And what people are flying through the air at that level above the ground? As opposed to an at-grade transit that’s crossing active streets with active vehicles turning in front of the train, with pedestrians crossing in front of the train. That (comparison) doesn’t seem to make logical sense to me.”

Los Angeles drivers and pedestrians have learned the hard way why elevated transit does make sense when the option exists to achieve grade separation. That’s what Honolulu intends to do, and that’s what the Governor needs to appreciate before she derails a project that will deliver safe, convenient and economic commuting to Oahu residents for decades to come.


Art Shotwell said...

"Notoriously dangerous?" Only dangerous if you try to get in front of a train. We have people killed by Amtrak and Burlington Northern trains in Washington state, but no one is elevating them. I still favor at-grade rail. People just have to learn that in any confrontation with a train, the train wins!

Doug Carlson said...

We miss you in Honolulu, Art, and we miss the format of your former all-news station, KHVH.

Honolulu needs fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation for commuters, not a relatively slow people mover/trolley. The cities near where you live probably opt for at-grade -- danger and all -- because of an abundance of space. That's not Honolulu's layout, squeezed between mountains and the ocean as it is. Every city does what it feels is best.

As today's blog post, people in Los Angeles (where we both once worked for KFWB) apparently think the Blue Line is notoriously dangerous, judging from the authorities' response.

Keep visiting and commenting, Art.

Anonymous said...

I truly cannot understand why anyone can't see how at-grade rail would be fouled up by traffic conditions.

We have pedestrians who jaywalk, cars that run red lights, people making illegal left turns, cars that block intersections and drivers who won't wait for pedestrians.

In that mix of scofflaws, a train is expected to run efficiently?