Ross: What can Sound Transit do to make their light rail platforms safer?

Aug 16, 2022, 6:36 AM | Updated: 7:11 am

(AvgeekJoe via Flickr)...

(AvgeekJoe via Flickr)

(AvgeekJoe via Flickr)

When you’re in a high-rise building, and the elevator stops at your floor, what happens? The door opens. Right? Wrong! Two sets of doors open!

This is standard with elevators. There are no buildings with open elevator shafts where you walk up to the edge and wait for the elevator to rise in front of you.

So why are there still elevated rail platforms with no platform doors? Or at least guard rails?

Sunday, a woman fell as a train approached the Mount Baker station in Seattle and was killed. This is terrible… but I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Not just here but on other transit systems that also don’t have platform doors.

As a kid, I loved the NY subway, but we were raised with a healthy fear of using it. The platforms were completely open – still are – three and a half feet above the rails, while a third rail could electrocute you if you fell. I always stood against a wall or a post until the train arrived. That’s just the way it was.

But this isn’t the 1960s. It should not be possible to fall onto a rail bed or stumble in front of a train. Design it like a horizontal elevator.

Platform doors are not new… the people-mover at the airport has had them from the beginning. The monorail has them at Westlake.

Paris, Singapore, China, and Bulgaria all have them. They make people feel safer.

Sound Transit is actually one of the safer systems because the platforms aren’t that high, there’s no third rail, and it’s not that crowded. But when the Eastside opens up, and Lynnwood opens up, this becomes a real concern with hundreds of people packed on the platforms. And they will skew toward children and old people because they don’t drive.

And I plan to be one of those old people. So do what it takes to make us feel safe.

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Ross: What can Sound Transit do to make their light rail platforms safer?