By Edwin Folven, 8/30/2012
Thirty-two passengers were hurt when train struck bus
A Blue Line train operator reportedly failed to stop as required before colliding Monday with a Metro bus at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and San Pedro Street, injuring 32 people.
Metro spokesman Marc Littman said the collision occurred at 6:56 a.m. as the Blue Line train was heading southbound from downtown Los Angeles toward Long Beach. The bus was heading eastbound on Washington Boulevard and had a green light when it passed the train tracks, according to Littman. The Blue Line travels at street level in that area, and stops at signals specifically for the train, and not for vehicular traffic.
“Our initial review shows that the train operator should have stopped and didn’t,” Littman said. “I’m not sure how fast the train was going when it clipped the back of the bus, but the signal indicated he should have stopped.”
Littman said the operator, who was not identified, has been relieved of duty while the collision is investigated. He added that the operator had been with Metro for six years, and had been operating trains for the past year. Littman said the train generally travels at less that 35 mph along that stretch of the line.
“This is a very serious incident, and Metro is doing a full investigation,” Littman added.
Approximately 50 people were riding on the bus when the collision occurred. Of the 32 people injured on the bus, 31 were transported to hospitals with minor injuries. One individual was treated for an illness that was not directly related to the crash. No individuals on the train were injured. The Blue Line struck the rear portion of the bus, which was running on Line 51 between Wilshire Center and Artesia.
Littman said it could take several days, if not weeks, for the investigation to be completed. Any actions or charges against the train operator will be determined after the investigation is finished.
The Blue Line has been operating since 1990, and in many locations, runs at the ground level with city streets. Metro has installed gates and signals to limit the number of collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians, but they still occur periodically. Littman said there have been 28 accidents involving the Blue Line reported in fiscal year 2012, including six fatalities, four of which were suicides. Metro is conducting a concurrent investigation into whether the line needs more safety measures, and a report is due back to the Metro Board in November. He added, however, that in the 22 years he has been working for Metro, and its predecessor, the Rapid Transit District, he could recall only one other incident that involved a train colliding with a bus.
“Washington and San Pedro is not a problem intersection for us,” Littman said. “The problems with the Blue Line are primarily pedestrian accidents. Suicides are up, and we are looking at ways to deal with that.”