That’s the warning in the “Our first stop is safety” video produced by Phoenix’s Valley Metro system to help drivers co-exist safely with the city’s at-grade rail system. Unfortunately, the message hasn’t gotten through to too many of them.
Metro racked up 52 crashes by in its first year of operation as drivers failed to follow instructions on how to navigate around these “humpbacks" on rails. We often mention safety here because there still are some on Oahu who think at-grade rail is a plausible option for Honolulu’s new system.
The comparative safety of elevated rail is just one reason to favor the existing plan for Honolulu – along with reliability, speed and increased mobility that also compare favorably with at-grade rail.
And Now, Phoenix’s Good News
Despite the accidents and service interruptions they cause, Valley residents continue to use METRO beyond expectations. The Arizona Republic reports today that ridership last year was 34 percent above expectations. Among its findings:
City planners are now envisioning an expansion of Phoenix’s rail system to “define the city’s development goals.” They see light rail as a partner in spurring redevelopment of outlying urban villages.
The Republic’s story also reports on age group transportation preferences:
Phoenix’s 16-month-old rail system is worth watching for its “lessons learned” value for Honolulu and our own rail program, including how to meet the transportation needs of a generation that’s likely to be much less dependent on the family car than earlier ones.
But we’re already far ahead of Phoenix in some respects. Our grade-separated system will make car-train crashes impossible here, and that’s a difference we’ll continue to emphasize.