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Blue Line train strikes Metro bus near downtown L.A.; 32 injured

August 28, 2012|Ari Bloomekatz
  • A man is wheeled to an ambulance after a collision between a Metro Blue Line train and a Metro bus at Washington Boulevard and San Pedro Street near downtown Los Angeles. At least 32 people were injured in the accident, none seriously.
A man is wheeled to an ambulance after a collision between a Metro Blue Line… (Francine Orr, Los Angeles…)

City authorities said they narrowly escaped disaster Monday morning when a Blue Line train struck a Metro bus filled with passengers near downtown Los Angeles, injuring nearly three dozen people, none of them seriously.

About 6:56 a.m., the southbound train clipped the back of a Line 51 bus in the intersection of San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The bus -- which runs between Wilshire Center and the Artesia Transit Center -- was standing-room-only with about 50 passengers, according to Metro spokesman Marc Littman. When the train hit it, he said, "the bus then spun and hit a light pole."

At least 32 people were taken to nine hospitals, where they were listed in fair to good condition. Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department described all but one of the injuries as minor, and the remaining person as "ill."

The bus sustained major damage and there were delays on both the Blue and Expo lines until about 9:10 a.m., when normal service resumed.

The accident could have been a catastrophe, Humphrey said.

"The incident was every paramedic's worst nightmare: a traffic collision between mass transit vehicles," he said.

"Thankfully, LAFD responders were able to rely on their training in what proved to be a relatively minor collision."

Said Littman: "It's an unusual accident where we have one of our Blue Line trains hit our own bus."

The Blue Line has been under scrutiny because of its recent record of accidents and fatalities. Earlier this month, officials said the light-rail line, which runs from L.A. to Long Beach, had 22 accidents and six fatalities so far in 2012 and is on pace for the highest number of deaths in its 22-year history.

Zev Yaroslavsky, a Los Angeles County supervisor and Metro board member, has said that a "good number" of the accidents along the line are pedestrian suicides, but that more can be done to improve safety.

The Metro board created a Blue Line task force to study the issue. It will make its report in November.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

Times staff writer Melissa Leu contributed to this report.

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