Keeping the Green Line safe – The Minnesota Daily

Things I would not be allowed to say were I a public official … in The Minnesota Daily Keeping the Green Line safe :


“Light rail trains empirically kill more people than buses,” said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and transportation studies expert.

Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said the Green and Blue Lines were built with safety in mind and that the Green Line will generally run slower since it will travel through more densely populated areas.

The vast majority of light-rail and streetcar systems around the country run on street level, Siqveland said.

Metro Transit has two train routes and 125 bus routes. Of the 81 million rides Metro Transit gave last year, 86 percent of riders use buses and 14 percent use trains.

Since the Blue Line opened in June 2004, the agency’s buses have had 6,979 incidents, which resulted in five deaths. Like the light rail, the majority of collisions involved motor vehicles. Of the 145 bus incidents involving pedestrians, four were fatal.

“Buses serve a lot more people and run a lot more miles … but have fewer fatalities,” Levinson said. “The [fatality] rates are obviously much higher for light-rail trains. Still, it’s a lot safer than driving a car.”

The 11-mile light-rail route connecting downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul is decades in the making and cost $957 million.

“It’s been built, so it’s too late. It’s an at-grade light-rail facility — there’s nothing we can do about it without spending another billion dollars,” Levinson said. “We don’t operate in this world to maximize safety and only safety; we have trade-offs.””

The low-friction nature of train travel makes it efficient, but it also makes stopping a problem, said Stephen Zitzow, Minnesota Traffic Observatory laboratory manager.

Each train weighs about 300,000 pounds, and bringing one to a complete stop from 55 mph takes the length of two football fields. At 20 mph, it takes 81 feet, Siqveland said.

“It doesn’t have the option to swerve out of the way of someone in the way,” Zitzow said. “The difference here is that most vehicles can maneuver much more than a light rail, which is stuck.”

Central Corridor project spokeswoman Laura Baenen said the Green Line will begin running before the Major League Baseball All-Star game at Target Field in July.

Baenen said the Metropolitan Council has taken many safety considerations, including creating a pedestrian mall and using posters and community educators.

Baenen said a street-level light-rail track is less costly than an underground or elevated one, which was “prohibitively expensive.”

Siqveland said part of the Metro Transit safety campaign will have links to its website posted at every train stop.

When asked if he’d visit the website, graduate student Hill said he most likely wouldn’t.

“If I am an example,” he said, “[other students] probably will not.”

See also this (presented at TRB) (which is a bit dated), still I think it is largely accurate. Another interesting tidbit is that urban autos kill relatively few people (on a per mile basis). More auto deaths (on a per capital, per mile, etc. basis) are rural.

Also note that the APTA Public Transportation Fact Book (p.26) does not break out LRT deaths, lumping that with rail transit. I wonder why.

GIS in Transit: Evaluating and Planning Transit Service Using Continuous Accessibility

Andrew Owen will be presenting “Evaluating and Planning Transit Service Using Continuous Accessibility” at the GIS in Transit conference at the National Academies, 3:00 – 4:30pm Wednesday, October 16

Details are here.

The thesis on which this is based is here.

More jobs ….

Assistant, Associate or Professors
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • Date PostedSep. 23, 2013
  • Job Title
    Assistant, Associate or Professors
  • Department
    College of Science and Engineering
  • Department Website
  • Institution
    University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

    Minneapolis, MN

  • Application DeadlineOpen Until Filled
  • Position Start DateFall 2014
  • Job Categories
  • Assistant Professor
    Associate Professor
  • Academic FieldsRobotics
    Mechanical Engineering
    Manufacturing & Quality Engineering
    Industrial & Systems Engineering
    Human Factors Engineering/Ergonomics
    Ecological and Environmental
    Engineering Mechanics
    Electrical and/or Electronics
    Computer Engineering
    Computer Science
    Bioengineering (all Bio-related fields)
    Engineering – Other

Faculty Positions in Robotics, Sensors and Manufacturing
College of Science and Engineering
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

The University of Minnesota is pleased to announce an initiative on Robotics, Sensors and Manufacturing, funded by the State of Minnesota. The initiative will leverage strengths in research and education in these and related areas at the University and will expand collaborations with industry to respond to emerging opportunities. In support of the initiative, the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) invites applications for multiple tenure-track and tenured positions in a coordinated recruiting process with CSE academic departments in engineering, physical and computer sciences and mathematics and collaborating programs outside of CSE, in such application areas as health sciences, biology and agriculture.

Disciplinary areas of particular interest to this search include, but are not limited, to robotics and automation, control and dynamical systems, machine learning and intelligence, image processing and computer vision, neuroengineering, materials, devices and systems for novel sensing and actuation and digital manufacturing. Successful candidates are expected to have strong commitments to cross-disciplinary collaboration in research and teaching in both undergraduate and graduate levels. These candidates must actively support the goals of the initiative in impacting the University’s contributions to such applications as terrestrial and aerial robotics, industrial automation and manufacturing, surgical robotics and image-guided therapies, medical-assist and wearable robotic systems, environmental and agricultural robotics, cognition, human-machine and human augmentation systems. Candidates must hold PhDs at the time of appointment in areas appropriate for the initiative.

Please apply online via the University of Minnesota Employment System:

Applications should include cover letters referencing the Robotics, Sensors and Manufacturing faculty positions, detailed curriculum vitae, statements of teaching and research interests and lists of three references with contact information (including email addresses). Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Successful candidates will be appointed as early as Fall Semester 2014.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.


  • EEO/AA Policy

    The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.


Call for Papers: World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research 2014: June 24-27, 2014 in Delft, the Netherlands

A reminder, WSTLUR submissions are due November 30.

David Levinson, Transportist

Call for Papers

World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research 2014

June 24-27, 2014 in Delft, the Netherlands

About the Symposium

We are pleased to announce the 2014 meeting of the World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR) to be held in Delft, the Netherlands, June 24 – June 27, 2014. The conference provides a unique international forum for academics and practitioners at the intersection of economics, planning, design, engineering, and other relevant disciplines. The Conference is aimed at developing a better understanding of the interaction between the dynamics of land use and transport, with an emphasis on the way in which the built environment can contribute to more sustainable transport in a rapidly changing world. Papers are welcome on a wide range of topics covering all modes of transport, both passenger and freight transport, at all spatial scales.

The Delft University of Technology hosts this conference…

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