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New traffic lights to cut down on light rail accidents

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METRO AND THE CITY OF HOUSTON TO ROLL OUT PILOT PROGRAM

TO CURB LIGHT-RAIL ACCIDENTS

METRO and the City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering, Traffic and Transportation Division launched a pilot program this week designed to reduce the number of accidents involving METRORail in downtown Houston.

The three-fold strategy to improve system safety consists of signal priority adjustments for METRORail, new traffic-light fixtures, and increased METRO police enforcement along the line.

In addition, the changes are designed to improve safety and enhance traffic movements along Main Street and key intersections.

MPD will focus on six intersections that have seen an increase in collisions following the resignaling of downtown intersections last year. Of the 43 accidents this year

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good God accidents are up over 26% this year over last and illegal turn accidents are up nearly 53% this year and 2008 is not even over yet

this was a HORRIBLE design from the start and multiple people should have been fired for it....I thought I read somewhere the accidents were declining, but I guess not :doh::unsure::wacko:

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good God accidents are up over 26% this year over last and illegal turn accidents are up nearly 53% this year and 2008 is not even over yet

this was a HORRIBLE design from the start and multiple people should have been fired for it....I thought I read somewhere the accidents were declining, but I guess not :doh::unsure::wacko:

Or, people should obey traffic signals and signs. Why are you coddling criminals? You sound like a liberal.

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Or, people should obey traffic signals and signs. Why are you coddling criminals? You sound like a liberal.

1. lets keep this on topic :o:lol::D

2. no where did I excuse the people that are making the wrong turns

3. poor designs are still poor designs even if "laws or rules" are put in place to try and mask the poor design

so just as those that cause the wrecks should get tickets and pay for all repairs.....the people that made the poor design should pay as well....with their job

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While I'm not too fond of the LRT, how hard is it for people to follow basic traffic laws? The LRT has been in operation for nearly five years now and people still refuse to co-exist at the expense of their personal vehicle?

The auto and extensive networks of trolley lines co-existed for decades in the early 20th century so I think Houstonians can live with, currently, one rail line. Also, in certain industrial areas in the country, FREIGHT TRAINS still run in the middle of the street LRT style without the myriad of signal systems Metro has to try and prevent these accidents.

For such an auto centric city, Houston has terrible and borderline mentally challenged drivers.

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Yes, Houston's LRT design is the most coddling design of any LRT system I've seen, and yet it's apparently still not good enough. Obviously I'm not quite the "transit design expert" that everyone else is, but I do know that anyone who's ever seen LRT implementations in other cities can probably appreciate the immense stupidity of Houston drivers.

Edited by N Judah

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No design is safe from stupidity. The design we have goes way too far to help stupid people. It shouldn't go any farther.

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The lengths that Metro goes to appease the personal driver comes at the expense of their own paying customer. I don't know how many times I've been on the train in the Med Center and it stops at EVERY traffic signal. How is that any different from a bus? That's not rapid transit at all. The LRT should have priority; if people can't wait the two seconds it takes for an LRT to pass they deserve whatever harm comes to car and body.

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The lengths that Metro goes to appease the personal driver comes at the expense of their own paying customer. I don't know how many times I've been on the train in the Med Center and it stops at EVERY traffic signal. How is that any different from a bus? That's not rapid transit at all. The LRT should have priority; if people can't wait the two seconds it takes for an LRT to pass they deserve whatever harm comes to car and body.

you better contact the mayor and council, they voted to force METRO's new lines to go with the vehicular traffic, with the LRT not having priority.

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The light rail should have been elevated. Having a train go down the middle of Main Street was just an absurdly stupid idea to begin with.

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The light rail should have been elevated. Having a train go down the middle of Main Street was just an absurdly stupid idea to begin with.

The taxpayers weren't going to pay extra to have it elevated. But that debate has been over for years, no point trying to re-start it now.

As for stupidity, I still blame the drivers. Somehow the people of Minneapolis, Portland, Vienna, Chicago, Galveston, New Orleans, Phoenix, Amsterdam, San Francisco and dozens and dozens of other cities seem to find ways to coexist with rail on the streets.

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The lengths that Metro goes to appease the personal driver comes at the expense of their own paying customer. I don't know how many times I've been on the train in the Med Center and it stops at EVERY traffic signal. How is that any different from a bus? That's not rapid transit at all. The LRT should have priority; if people can't wait the two seconds it takes for an LRT to pass they deserve whatever harm comes to car and body.

That's utterly bizarre considering that even the LRT detractors' proposed alternative, BRT, gets priority signalling. This is according to the examples they used (Curitaba, Eugene, and a bunch of little flash animations). I consider this to be proof that the anti-transit freeway junkies were not actually operating in good faith at any point.

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Is that setup even MUTCD compliant? I've never, ever seen a R-Y-G signal arrangement with a flashing yellow arrow component added.

Seems like this setup here would've been the logical choice:

100_0903.jpg

If drivers can't stay off of a train track when conventional signage (and knowledge) would tell them not to do so, what do you think will happen when a brand new flashing yellow arrow comes at them?

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The solution is creating guard rails that actually prevent you from entering into the path of the light rail. One of two ways. The White House has these REALLY cool solid steel 5ft. tall by 2ft. round poles that shoot up from under the ground in order to stop vans and trucks and cars full of explosives. OR, you could have steel poles come across the intersections, like railroad crossing guards but the hydraulics move fast and strong enough to actually impale your car or truck like a harpooned whale, but only through the engine area, not into the passenger area where it could cause a potential death. I guarantee you after a couple of dozens mangled vehicles being shown on the 10 o'clock news, people will become aware.

Edited by TJones

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seeing a car mangled by a train should provide the same awareness.

Edited by musicman

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The solution is creating guard rails that actually prevent you from entering into the path of the light rail. One of two ways. The White House has these REALLY cool solid steel 5ft. tall by 2ft. round poles that shoot up from under the ground in order to stop vans and trucks and cars full of explosives. OR, you could have steel poles come across the intersections, like railroad crossing guards but the hydraulics move fast and strong enough to actually impale your car or truck like a harpooned whale, but only through the engine area, not into the passenger area where it could cause a potential death. I guarantee you after a couple of dozens mangled vehicles being shown on the 10 o'clock news, people will become aware.

I would prefer the poles that shoot up! :lol::DB)

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The solution is creating guard rails that actually prevent you from entering into the path of the light rail. One of two ways. The White House has these REALLY cool solid steel 5ft. tall by 2ft. round poles that shoot up from under the ground in order to stop vans and trucks and cars full of explosives. OR, you could have steel poles come across the intersections, like railroad crossing guards but the hydraulics move fast and strong enough to actually impale your car or truck like a harpooned whale, but only through the engine area, not into the passenger area where it could cause a potential death. I guarantee you after a couple of dozens mangled vehicles being shown on the 10 o'clock news, people will become aware.

I say head in the other direction and take out those little bumper things. Make it seem like the trains and cars are sharing the road rather than competing. That's how it is in other cities...

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Yes, Houston's LRT design is the most coddling design of any LRT system I've seen, and yet it's apparently still not good enough. Obviously I'm not quite the "transit design expert" that everyone else is, but I do know that anyone who's ever seen LRT implementations in other cities can probably appreciate the immense stupidity of Houston drivers.

No kidding. Compared to street-running light rail I've seen in Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, Seattle, and several other cities, Houston's has more safety features built into the design than any other I've seen in the US. Yet those other cities don't have the kind of accident rates Houston does.

And let's not forget that it was illegal to turn left from Main Street in Downtown and Midtown for decades before the light rail line was built. It's not like MetroRail was built and suddenly turns that were legal before were now illegal. The no left turn on Main Street rule had been in place for a very long time before Metro even existed as Houston's transit agency.

The fact remains that any driver that runs a red light, ignores a no left turn sign, or drives on the track, is breaking the law and is responsible if an accident with the train occurs. Driving next to the light rail is no more difficult than driving next to another large vehicle, like a semi. You follow the signs, obey standard traffic laws, and stay out of its way.

I guarantee you after a couple of dozens mangled vehicles being shown on the 10 o'clock news, people will become aware.

Doubtful. Nearly five years of seeing trains plowing into cars making illegal turns or running red lights along the MetroRail line on the news hasn't stopped people from continuing to do it. Even a fatality a few years ago didn't stop it.

And you know what? You don't need expensive movable barrier systems popping up out of the pavement to ruin the cars of people stupid enough to cross into the train's path. The train does a pretty good job of that by itself. Light rail vehicle versus most cars? Light rail vehicle always wins that one and often drives away with a few minor scratches and dents, while the car is written off by the owner's insurance company.

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The problem of Houston drivers making illegal left turns at intersections is not confined to downtown or the light rail line. You see it all over town and never see anyone getting a ticket.

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I know most people think they are "facist" but you know those red light cameras? why not adapt them to left-turn drivers? Make the fine really extreme too, like 2000 dollars. That'll pay off the constant replacement of those fender body panels on the front of the train.

You know these drivers causing these wrecks should be glad that Metro chooses to add on those things, which are otherwise cosmetic. Most Siemens Avanto units come with attached couplers.

How would you like your driver's side door skewered by that thing?

Busines_Tampat_2154102.jpg

Edited by zaphod

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MetroRail's most obvious design flaw was also one most easily avoided. Why are the trains gray? If Metro's intent was to render them nearly invisible, they have succeeded.

Perhaps they thought cloaking the trains in camouflage would make them seem less controversial. I would rather they had chosen an eye-catching, go-to-hell color such as OSHA Safety Red.

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Is that setup even MUTCD compliant? I've never, ever seen a R-Y-G signal arrangement with a flashing yellow arrow component added.

There are a lot of circumstances where traffic lights can be altered to suit local needs.

Back in the 90's Huntington, West Virginia the mayor was British and had all the traffic lights changed so that after Red but before Green you had Red+Yellow, like in her homeland.

In Poughkeepsie, New York there are some intersections where the red light is supplemented by a white strobe light.

Some other place I lived instead of having Red-Yellow-Green had Blue-Yellow-Green or even Red+Blue-Yellow-Green when a fire truck or ambulance was entering the roadway.

Texas is still the only place I've been that has the Red-Red for left turn control. Everywhere else just puts up a sign on the median reading "No Turn On Red." Maybe another sign of coddling? You decide.

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Would it be incorrect to say that accidents are happening a lot less than back when the light rail first went online? I remember seeing every night on the news another collision, but not much anymore.

Some people are just bad drivers and odds are they are going to have an accident, sooner or later, whether it be with a train, another car... a tree perhaps...

There sure are a lot whom can't get one way streets down... its happened quite a few times when I'll be in downtown and there's someone coming up the wrong way... and they can't get down the concept that a left on red on intersecting one way streets has the same rules as a right on red on normal streets :lol:

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Texas is still the only place I've been that has the Red-Red for left turn control. Everywhere else just puts up a sign on the median reading "No Turn On Red." Maybe another sign of coddling? You decide.

I've seen a few signals where the red-red was used on some non left turn signals. There were some at UH until recently.

100_0863.jpg

100_0864.jpg

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I know most people think they are "facist" but you know those red light cameras? why not adapt them to left-turn drivers? Make the fine really extreme too, like 2000 dollars. That'll pay off the constant replacement of those fender body panels on the front of the train.

You know these drivers causing these wrecks should be glad that Metro chooses to add on those things, which are otherwise cosmetic. Most Siemens Avanto units come with attached couplers.

How would you like your driver's side door skewered by that thing?

Busines_Tampat_2154102.jpg

Actually the couplers are on Metro's LRVs too. They're just concealed by that panel that lifts up, but they're still there.

Texas is still the only place I've been that has the Red-Red for left turn control. Everywhere else just puts up a sign on the median reading "No Turn On Red." Maybe another sign of coddling? You decide.

Not all signals in Texas use the double red light on left turn signals. I always assumed that it was used at intersections where the left turn signal is timed differently from the thru lanes, and the second red light served as a backup. That way, if one bulb was out, there would still be a red light showing.

Georgia has some intersections with the double red light as well.

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It seems to me like people are just stupid. If you're going to make illegal left turns without checking your blind spot or signaling, you're going to eventually crash into something - whether it's a train or a car or a bus or a person.

If there were busses running on main with a 5 minute interval in the same lane that the Metro Rail uses, people would most likely be crashing into those busses instead. The fact that trains are bigger, have brighter lights at night, and have loud bells makes me think that people would actually be less likely to crash into the trains than busses. But of course, some people have to react by blaming the trains.

Toronto has a lot of light rail that runs in the streets and shares lanes with cars, and there are no extra safety mechanisms that I have noticed. People just follow the proper traffic rules and treat the light rail trains as if they were cars. That seems to work fine in Toronto.

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There sure are a lot whom can't get one way streets down... its happened quite a few times when I'll be in downtown and there's someone coming up the wrong way... and they can't get down the concept that a left on red on intersecting one way streets has the same rules as a right on red on normal streets :lol:

Speaking of which we should really convert the streets in downtown/midtown to two-way streets. We'll never have any legitimate streetlife as long as downtown/midtown is one big drag race.

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