(Los Angeles, California – August 27, 2012)
A Los Angeles Metro city bus with a standing-room-only load of about 50 passengers was struck in the rear and spun into a light pole when it tangled with a Metro Blue Line light rail passenger train at the intersection of Metro railroad tracks at the 1900 block of San Pedro at Washington Boulevard in downtown LA at about 6:56 A.M. Monday. Although estimates of the injured first spiked to 48, they were later revised downward to a total of 32. Twenty-four of the injured were on the bus and eight were on the train. None of the injuries were described as “life threatening”, although most victims were hospitalized at one of nine LA hospitals.
The bus was headed from Wilshire Center to the Artesia Transit Center when it was struck by the southbound Blue Line train. The crossing is signalized but not gated, and traffic had slowed the bus’s progress across the intersection.
Los Angeles Fire Dept. Spokesman Brian Humphrey said the accident could have been a catastrophe. “The incident was every paramedic’s worst nightmare: a traffic collision between two mass transit vehicles.”
The Los Angeles Times said that “The Blue Line has been under scrutiny because of its recent record of accidents and fatalities,” showing statistics that the LA to Long Beach light rail line had experienced 22 accidents and six fatalities thus far in 2012, and is on pace for the highest number of deaths in its 22-year history of operation.
Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky downplayed the statistics, saying that a “good number” of the accidents along the route were pedestrian suicides. However, he did admit that more could be done to improve safety.
A Blue Line Task Force created by the Metro Board is scheduled to make its report in November.