MTA taking steps to reduce Blue Line deaths

LOS ANGELES Since it began service in 1990, the 22-mile /*Blue Line*/ has been linked to 101 fatalities and 875 collisions.

While the numbers are on par with other transit agencies in the country, they are the highest among the MTA's five rail lines.

Agency officials said the number of accidents have to do with its unique features. The line travels mostly at street level through 103 crossings, shuttling close to 75,000 passengers on an average weekday.

Trains trundle close to an unruly mix of stray animals and people living and working near the track - people who are the most dependent on mass transit.

During the peak commute hours, trains come as frequently as once every five minutes.

"The more grade crossings you have, the greater the potential for accident," said Vijay Khawani, director of corporate safety at the MTA. In comparison, the other rail lines go through tunnels or skyways or a combination of the two with some street-level crossings.

In an effort to reduce fatalities even further, the MTA has increased enforcement. In some cases, crackdowns have resulted in hundreds of citations in just a few hours.

The MTA has also installed warning devices to keep people from crossing the tracks.

According to MTA Chief Executive Art Leahy, the agency plans to spend $1 million next year to install more swing gates to slow down people who try to run across the track, including at the crossing where the visually impaired man was killed.

He said the agency was also considering installing inward-facing cameras to monitor train operators.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.