The opening of the Expo Line light rail's second phase, which will run between Culver City and Santa Monica, is prepping to open this spring, so there are still some final tweaks being done as the construction authority finishes up testing on the line and hands it over to Metro to operate. After first deciding not to put up fencing along the route, Santa Monica City Council officials changed their minds last week, in large part because of stats in a staff report from this fall that show a disquieting amount of people on foot, on bikes, and on skateboards crossing onto the tracks, says the Santa Monica Lookout. "During this testing phase, these staff and law enforcement agencies have recorded a large number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists consistently trespassing in the Light Rail guideway, raising serious safety concerns," the report says.
As seen in the chart below, in September and October Metro staff observed 2,788 pedestrians in all getting onto the tracks or in the space between the tracks, and "During train test runs, train operators have observed dangerous behavior on the part of pedestrians," the report says. The report calls this "an abnormally high number of people."
It's been more than 50 years since a train traversed the streets of Santa Monica, so it's understandable that people are slow to adapt to the tracks in the street, but even compared to other areas of LA where light rail's gone in at street level, there are a lot of people getting onto the Expo Line's tracks. The Gold Line's extension into Boyle Heights and East LA had similar problems in its testing phase, says the report, but to a lesser extent: in East LA, an average of 368 pedestrians in a 21-week period were seen on the tracks; in Santa Monica, the average was 465 pedestrians on the tracks, although over a shorter period.
· Santa Monica Will Add Fencing Around Expo Rail Tracks [SML]
· Alert! This is the First Train to Glide Through Santa Monica Since 1953 [Curbed LA]
· Expo Line Light Rail to Santa Monica Should Be Ready to Open in April or May [Curbed LA]