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City Moves to Improve Safety on Orange Line Busway

Reacting to a rash of bus-car collisions on the new route, officials will change signs and lights.

November 05, 2005|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

Concerned about three recent collisions along the Metro Orange Line in the San Fernando Valley, transportation officials have ordered adjustments to traffic lights and signs to make the new busway safer.

The measures that the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation will be implementing over the weekend include:

* Adjusting the timing of traffic signals so that lights stay red or green longer to give buses more time to clear intersections.

* Lowering some warning signs, such as those prohibiting right turns on a red light, from 12 feet to 7 feet, so that they are closer to eye level.

* Replacing the round green signal lights at intersections with green-arrow signal lights for through traffic to reduce confusion.

"These are three items that will be immediate fixes," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who is chairwoman of the council's transportation committee.

The fixes were among the ideas generated at a brainstorming session Greuel called Thursday after the $324-million transitway experienced three vehicle crashes -- including one Wednesday that seriously injured a motorist and sent more than a dozen bus riders to hospitals for minor injures.

The 14-mile busway from Woodland Hills to the North Hollywood subway station opened last weekend.

All three accidents involved motorists running red lights, according to authorities. Drivers have said they found some busway intersections, which resemble rail crossings, confusing.

Greuel said that other ideas from the meeting of transportation officials, traffic engineers and law enforcement officials needed to be evaluated and would take longer to implement.

Those included strobe lights on buses to increase their visibility and cameras at crossings to catch motorists who run red lights. Officials also are considering warning devices similar to the kind used at rail crossings, such as flashing lights, a noise alert system and crossing gates.

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