Just as nervous commuters here in Orange County, Los Angeles, and all over California brave their way back onto public transportation this week, another train collides, this time with a bus. This time it was not a Metrolink train, but a “light rail” train. The accident is still under investigation but early facts are emerging that the driver of the bus was a mechanic that was “test driving” the empty bus and ran a red light. 15 people were sent to the hospital with personal injuries.
The light rail system is run in the state of California by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority or MTA. Los Angeles’s rail system includes multi-colored above rail lines that stretch across L.A. County. The train that crashed was the blue line that connects Long Beach with downtown L.A. Since 1990, there have been 821 accidents on this blue line and 90 fatalities. 652 of the incidents have been with other vehicles and 169 have been with pedestrians.
Most of the accidents have been due to human error of some kind; either from the vehicles trying to beat the train, pedestrians not looking both ways and train operators that were distracted. Since cell phone usage is now such a large factor in last week’s metrolink crash, investigators will be looking into this theory as well. In July of this year another California light rail incident in Sacramento involved another operator texting; this time with deadly results. This week the California Public Utilities Commission has banned all train operators from using their cell phone and texting while on the job.
Why does California have the deadliest train accident rate in the country? Generally there is not one reason that causes these types of accidents. Experts agree that it is normally is a breakdown of many operational processes; long work hours, improper training procedures, dysfunctional organizational systems and unreasonable workloads can all be factors. The National Transportation Safety Board will go through these accidents and ultimately come up with causes and recommendations. Hopefully the management in charge will comply and create better safety procedures for the public at large.
Besides trains, California also has the highest bus accident rate, with fatalities and personal injuries. Bus accidents have been steadily growing as more and more people move to public transportation for business and pleasure. Bus transportation, compared with driving an automobile is still safer than fighting the freeways, but it still has its risks. Last year there were over 1300 injury crashes involving buses in California.
Another popular trend for bus tourism is the “casino bus”. People from all over Orange County opt for less stress while travelling to Las Vegas and the California casinos. However, earlier this year there was a tour bus that overturned on the way to Vegas. Four people had to be airlifted because of serious personal injuries, but all had injuries. The bus driver had drifted to side of the road and somehow lost control of the bus.
If you have experienced any injury accident on a metrolink train, light rail, bus or casino tour bus, don’t hesitate to call an experienced personal injury attorney. These types of accidents can be very difficult to go through and settle, especially when you are recovering. Talk to the experts and let them handle the details while you get better.