Accidents and Deaths are Certain

Posted by Fix Expo Team

In response to the Los Angeles Times article this Sunday, let's recap the main evidence/arguments for why the Expo Line is not designed to operate safely.

1) Blue Line: Over 796 accidents and 88 deaths to date.

MTA publishes it's Summary of Metro Blue Line Train/Vehicle and Train/Pedestrian Accidents every 3 months (that tells you how frequently the collisions occur). 76% of the accidents are in the portion of the Blue Line that is identical in design to the Expo Line through most of South LA, in an area with greater residential density, more vehicular traffic, and more expected ridership.

The Booz-Allen Hamilton study on the cause of Blue Line Accidents

The Booz-Allen Hamilton report is clearly the most damaging and conclusive document we've uncovered to date. It is study the MTA commissioned back in 1998 that explained why the Blue Line was the deadliest and most accident-prone light rail line in the country. The major points are expanded in a previous post. They are primarily the Blue Line's high ridership (which leads to more activity around the station locations and places pressure on the operators to maintain service), residential density of the area which the train travels.

Applying that knowledge to the Expo Line and it is clear that the MTA is callously repeating a proven defective design. The MTA knows the Expo Line will be a killer:

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a) Using MTA's own predictions, the ridership per mile for the Expo Line is expected to be nearly 30% higher, meaning there will be more traffic and activity around the station locations. (The Blue Line ridership is 75K/22 miles or 3.4K riders/mile, while the Expo is expected to be 75K riders/15 miles or 5K riders/mile).

b) The residential density is higher along the Exposition Blvd Corridor.

c) There is substantial truck traffic and light industrial property along the Exposition Blvd Corridor. In fact, in a letter from a civil engineering firm to the Expo Authority, they pointed out how the design of the Hauser crossings was inadequate to allow their trucks to access the properties and would lead to backing up of cars and trucks on the tracks, while the train is approaching at 55 mph.

3) LADOT's documents.

The same day we presented a strongly worded letter to the MTA Board and press that was written by LADOT General Manager and directed to the Expo Authority, the Mayor fired Gloria Jeff for "undisclosed reasons." Our op-ed on the subject ran in OurWeekly. Succinctly, Jeff said the MTA's Management Plan for USC/Expo Park/Coliseum events was fatally flawed, "not safe for pedestrians," would lead to "major gridlock," and was "unacceptable to LADOT." (full letter here)

4) State and Federal Criteria

The Expo Line design violates numerous state and federal criteria for safe rail travel, as specified in the 108 combined pages of our opening and reply briefs, which Commissioner Simon labeled vague (I wish I were making this up). Page 7 to 27 in our reply brief highlights the criteria and how they have failed to be applied to this line.

The facts are clear:

  • The Expo Line is NOT designed to operate safely.
  • Our political leaders need to join with LaMotte and stand up for the safety of their constituents, including the former head of the agency responsible to serve and protect the public (Bernard Parks).