By Steve Hymon, September 30, 2013
First, a big thank you to readers and media for their interest and articles last week about Metro’s efforts to reduce suicides, particularly along the Blue Line, the agency’s longest and busiest light rail line.
That said, the week ended badly when on Friday evening a man was killed when he walked into the path of a southbound Blue Line train at the Vernon station. The incident remains under investigation but Metro has confirmed that the crossing gates, warning lights and bells were working.
As it happens I spent some time along the Blue Line corridor last week shooting photographs for Metro, including the two above that were taken at the Vernon station.
The point of the top photo: the Blue Line trains are big, heavy and long — and they pass within feet of the entrance and exit to the train platform that sits between the Blue Line’s southbound and northbound tracks.
The second photo was taken to illustrate the difficulty in gauging distances along the Blue Line, which features long, straight sections of track. You may think the train is still far and you have time to get across the tracks. But you may be wrong with deadly consequences.
After watching people come and go to and from the station, I think there are three easy things everyone can do that would help improve safety:
1. Take off your headphones.
2. Put your phone in your pocket.
3. Keep your head on a swivel.
I saw several people walking to or from the platform staring at their phones and not even looking up despite the presence of traffic on Vernon Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard and two sets of train tracks — for the Blue Line and for Union Pacific freight trains.
Metro’s safety ambassador has a neat little trick: he stands in the path of those folks staring at their phones, forcing them to look up or walk into him.
Please be careful, everyone. The Blue Line, Gold Line and Expo Line all have platforms in the center of the tracks. They can work fine — but like many other things in life, they do require your full attention in order for everyone to get where they are going safely.