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Metrolink Safety Now on Right Track : Commuter Train Operator's Education Efforts and Public's Common Sense Show Results

September 05, 1993

Californians are notoriously reckless around trains, and San Fernando Valley residents have been no different. Statistics from a national nonprofit public education program called Operation Lifesaver, for example, show California with the nation's highest percentage of motorist crashes at railroad crossings with active warning devices. For the latter, we need only refer to the nine deaths along Metrolink commuter tracks since October, five of them between Sylmar and Pacoima in the Valley.

In the case of Metrolink, we noted earlier this year the need for greater common sense from the public, at a time when Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Transit Services Bureau citations at grade crossings had more than doubled between October and February. Equally important, however, was the need for Metrolink to redouble its educational efforts. It also had to move swiftly forward with fencing along the Sylmar-Pacoima corridor, new bilingual warning signs, and improved pedestrian crossings.

We are pleased to note action and improvement on both fronts.

First, the number of citations handed out for grade crossing violations has dropped steadily from the February high mark of 202. The figure in July was 93. The increase indicated by unreleased figures for the month of August have been attributed to Metrolink's new Riverside-to-Los Angeles line.

Finally, (and it was too long in coming) construction and placement have begun on 4,000 yards of four-foot to 12-foot-high fences, ditches, warning signs, and 16 gates along the tracks between Sylmar and Pacoima.

Metrolink's executive director says officials are prepared to install the same safeguards, as they are warranted, along other parts of the 450-mile Metrolink system. Such considerations ought to occur next whenever there is a serious increase in citations, and not after another series of fatalities.

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