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Please try to avoid getting hit by the new light rail trains

Seriously, watch where you’re driving when you drive along or past the new rail lines. The train is bigger than you and your car, and if you pick a fight with it you will lose.

Metro is working to make sure drivers and pedestrians get that message. Starting next year, Houston will have 15 new miles of operating light rail tracks.

“It’s a change in mindset for Houston. It’s an absolute change in mindset.”

That’s Metro Margaret O’Brien-Molina.

“This is bigger than just the East End, it’s bigger than the North Line, it’s bigger than the Southeast Line. This means all of Houston, because at some point or the other, we’re all going to cross those tracks.”

O’Brien-Molina says the big thing drivers need to remember is that the trains hardly make any noise, so if you’re driving along a street like Fulton, Harrisburg, or Scott, a train could appear at any time.

That means drivers need to be especially careful when they make left turns. There are also new lights and signs, and crosswalks for pedestrians to get to rail stops.

“We’ve already educated 14,000 children and asked them to bring that message home. We’ve prepared packets to show kids exactly how this works, what the lines are going to look like.”

I sure hope it works, because that first year after the Main Street line opened was ridiculous. Many of the problems occurred in the stretch of Fannin where cars did have to drive onto the light rail right of way to make a left turn. I’ve done that in recent years, after many changes were made to make it less confusing, but it was still a bit unclear, and a bit nerve-wracking. Be that as it may, the vast majority of the accidents were caused by driver error – running red lights, making illegal left turns, and just plain not checking their six to make sure there wasn’t a train right behind them that they were about to turn into. There wasn’t much of an awareness campaign back in 2003, at least not one that I remember, so whatever is being done now will be an improvement. I hope the message sinks in.

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6 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    The easy solution to that is to not build useless rail lines in the first place. We were doing just fine without rail.

  2. John says:

    But… how are people supposed to text and drive if they have to look at the road?

  3. Temple Houston says:

    Gee, Ross, where do you live? Tulsa? And John, people have plenty of time to read text messages, they just don’t have time to read traffic signs as well.

  4. Ross says:

    @Temple, I live in Houston, inside the Loop. I don’t use the train, and generally think is does nothing useful, other than make some of my trips more difficult, due to the way METRO chose to construct the lines.

  5. John says:

    Temple, there was a heavy dose of sarcasm there. I moved here (from the east coast) shortly after Main Street line opened. A coworker who was another recent eastern transplant told me that I just had to go see the train tracks so I could share her sense of amazement at how much trouble they were causing. It’s hard to see how it could be simpler; having driven in other cities with light rail I am just stunned that people had so much trouble with something really so simple.

  6. John says:

    (On the plus side, maybe the blogHouston crowd will come out of retirement to shriek a few choruses of Danger Train! Danger Train!)

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