Injury Crashes Raise Concerns Over Houston Light Rail Safety

Law Firm Newswire



Washington, D.C. (Law Firm Newswire) September 2, 2014 – This summer, a cluster of crashes involving Houston’s MetroRail light rail system caused serious injuries and reignited concerns about the system’s safety.

Three incidents occurred in the same week, all involving collisions between a light rail train and a passenger car, according to a news report in the Houston Chronicle. According to the Chronicle, one of the crashes was deemed preventable by the light rail operator. The other two were likely the fault of motorists.

“These three accidents add to the mounting evidence that the Houston light rail system poses undue risk to the public,” commented David Lietz, a transportation accident attorney. “I that Houston Metro officials do not chalk these crashes up to coincidence.”

According to statistical analysis by the Chronicle, the Houston light rail system sees far more accidents per mile than other light rail systems across the country. Light rail critics argue that the lack of separation between the tracks and the regular roadway is one of the problems. Houston’s light rail system is street-grade, and as such, it is not well-separated from automobile traffic.

Compounding the issue, analysis of data provided by the U.S. Federal Transit Administration suggests that the ratio of light rail accidents per passenger mile is significantly higher than it is for many other forms of public transportation.

“Even though Metro authorities claim that motorists cause most of Houston’s light rail accidents, they need to take responsibility for providing adequate urban design,” said Lietz. “Many other cities have been able to implement light rail systems that do not confuse and endanger motorists. Houston must seek to do the same.”

Houston Metro is opening two new light rail lines in December. Officials told the Chronicle that they are doing everything they can to alert motorists to the new traffic patterns, but that “change is hard.”