Houston Metro Still Struggles With Rail Safety

Collisions remain a constant along the Metro's light rail track despite a monthslong effort to improve rail safety in the Houston area.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority logged November as its second-worst month for train crashes in more than a year, with 15 crashes along the light rail. Transit officials plan to improve police traffic enforcement to keep car and truck drivers from turning into the train, the Houston Chronicle reported.

"Sixty percent of our accidents are illegal left turns along the rail corridor," said Tom Lambert, Metro CEO. "We have not been aggressive in that -- and we're not here to bring in revenue -- but we are going to start a very aggressive enforcement campaign."

Some drivers said Metro should turn its efforts internally instead of policing drivers.

"Why don't they ticket their own drivers for blocking intersections or not blowing the horn?" said Salvadore Martin, who drives downtown daily.

Other drivers said Houston should have anticipated safety problems with a street-level rail system from the beginning.

"This is why you build a subway," said Georgine McDonald, another driver in the area.

The Metro had spent months focusing on rail safety after a pair of high-profile train collisions occurred while Houston hosted the Super Bowl in February. Metro officials said more than a dozen safety-related projects will roll out in the coming months.

Plans include ground-level work, such as fence installation along the tracks to discourage trespassers and the addition of warning signs for cars and pedestrians about approaching trains.

Lambert said he'll discuss a schedule of when the signs and other materials will be installed in January.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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