The National Academies

TCRP A-13 [Completed]

Light Rail Service: Pedestrian and Vehicular Safety

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: Korve Engineering, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Hans W. Korve
Effective Date: 4/23/1996
Completion Date: 11/30/2000

TCRP Project A-5, Integration of Light Rail Transit into City Streets, was initiated to improve the safety of light rail transit (LRT) operations in shared rights-of-way where light rail vehicles (LRVs) operate on, adjacent to, or across city streets at low-to-moderate speeds (i.e., 35 mph or less). The objective of TCRP Project A-5 was to identify the most effective traffic control devices, public education methods, and enforcement techniques to improve safety where LRVs, motorists, and pedestrians interact. In June 1995, the Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Technical Subcommittee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices voted to include a chapter on Light Rail Transit traffic control devices in the 1997 release of the revised Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This Light Rail Transit chapter is based on the research conducted under TCRP Project A-5. Techniques analyzed in TCRP Project A-5 included passive and active signage; traffic signalization (including LRV indications); pavement markings, texturing, and striping; geometric improvements; channelization; audible warning devices; application of advanced technology; enforcement; and education.

Even though most LRT systems also operate in exclusive or semi-exclusive rights-of-way that permit higher speeds, there is still interaction with motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at grade crossings and in the vicinity of stations. Safety improvements identified in TCRP Project A-5 do not always apply to higher speed operations at grade crossings on semi-exclusive rights of way.

Higher-speed LRT grade crossings are often treated as standard railroad crossings, but LRT systems and LRVs have operating characteristics different from both freight and passenger rail. Typically, LRVs operate more frequently and in shorter trains. Thus, to improve safety and reduce incidents involving LRVs, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists within this environment, further research into traffic control devices, enforcement techniques, and public education is needed.

The report addresses the safety and operating experience of LRT systems with LRVs operating on semi-exclusive rights-of-ways at speeds greater than 55 km/h 35 mph The analysis presented in the report is based upon interviews with LRT agency officials, field observations, and analysis of accident records and accident rates for 11 LRT systems in the United States and Canada. The 11 systems---Baltimore, Calgary (Canada), Dallas, Denver, Edmonton (Canada), Los Angeles, Portland, St. Louis, Sacramento, San Diego, and San Jose---represent a broad range of current LRT operating practices and situations. LRT systems operate in various environments, at varying speeds.

This project focused on the interaction between LRVs and motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists where LRV speeds exceed 35 mph. It extended and completed the research started in TCRP Project A-5. Interviews and surveys of existing LRT operations are to be conducted to expand on the data obtained during the TCRP Project A-5 research.

Status: The interim report was published as TCRP Research Results Digest No. 34 and is available in portable document format (PDF). The final report was published as TCRP Report 69 and is available below in PDF. Double-click on the files below to access the PDFs. (A free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.)

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