Friday, September 19, 2008

Another train crash in L.A. again, No Way!

A light rail train slammed into a bus near downtown during Friday morning's commute, injuring 14 people, none seriously, officials said.

The Metro Blue Line train was on a run to Long Beach while the bus was not in service. Fourteen people from the train, including the operator, suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Luis Inzunza said.

"We had an out-of-service bus turn in front of the train," said Marc Littman, another spokesman for the MTA, which operates both the train and the bus. "We don't know who had the right of way."

The impact knocked the front car of the electric train off the track. The other cars remained on the track.

Inzunza said the speed limit for trains in the area is 35 mph. The bus was being driven by a mechanic, who was not injured.

The crash comes just a week after a Metrolink commuter train smashed into a freight train in the San Fernando Valley, about 30 miles northwest of downtown, killing 25 people and injuring more than 130.

More than an hour after the accident, the smell of compressed natural gas leaking from the bus was still strong.

Chris Romero, 31, who lives nearby, said the screeching metal woke him up and he came running over. The crash, coupled with the Metrolink accident, has made him wary of taking the train.

"With everything that's going on, it's scary to go on the Metro," he said in Spanish through an interpreter.

The Blue Line, which runs from downtown to Long Beach, started service in 1990 and is the oldest part of MTA's popular light rail system.

Metro Rail service covers 73 miles of track and 62 stations, including street-level light rail, two subway lines and some elevated track. Estimated weekday ridership totals more than 300,000 boardings.

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