Eyes on the Street: Car Collides with Southbound Train on Expo/Blue Line Tracks

When it is car vs. train, the car will lose every time. The young man in white with the backpack is the driver. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
When it is car vs. train, the car will lose every time. The young man in white with the backpack is the driver. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

If you’ve ever taken the Blue Line (or Expo Line) headed south, you know that riding the section between San Pedro station and Pico is like watching paint dry.

It is torturously slow.

Which may be why drivers feel they can outrun the train. I’ve seen people squeak through the intersection on red at Pico just as a train was leaving that station on more than one harrowing occasion.

I can’t say for sure that the feeling he could beat the train was why the driver above decided to turn in front it yesterday afternoon, but there’s a good chance it was, given an account by an eyewitness who lived in the building across the street.

It’s a bit of a puzzle to me. There is no shortage of signals at that intersection — those turning left onto the freeway onramp have their own sets of lights.

It's not like there is a shortage of signals. (Google map screen shot)
It’s not like there is a shortage of signals. (Google map screen shot)

They have three, as a matter of fact, and a flashing “train” signal for added good measure (below the stoplight, below).

Two of the three sets of signals in place for your safety at 18th and Flower. (Google map screen shot)
Two of the three sets of signals in place for your safety at 18th and Flower. (Google map screen shot)

But, sometimes when people are excited to get on the freeway, they jump the gun and they get their bumper torn off by the train.

Just as an FYI for all you folks out there that want to test your mettle against a train, please note that the train, even moving at its snail’s pace, was only able to come to a complete stop 40 or more feet beyond the original collision point.

The train finally stopped well past the collision point. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The train finally stopped well past the collision point, and had some damage to its front end. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

And the massive response it elicited — four fire trucks and several police vehicles — backed the traffic up and forced police to divert cars to the sidewalks.

Cars are diverted to the sidewalk to get around the vehicles of the first responders. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Cars are diverted to the sidewalk to get around the vehicles of the first responders. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Thankfully, it appeared that no one was hurt. The firemen were packing up to leave within minutes of their arrival.

The train came to a halt at 18th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
The train came to a halt at 18th St. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Don’t drive and race trains, kids.

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