After 2 weekend fatalities, Metro Transit urging caution around light rail trains

A deadly accident involving a bicyclist and a Blue Line light rail train Monday night was the third incident involving a light rail train this year and the second of the long weekend.

While Metro Transit investigators are still trying to figure out why this all happened, there are some things they want the public to know.

The most recent incident was Monday night near 35th Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis.

According to Metro Transit’s Howie Padilla, it appears the bicyclist rode around a gate that were lowered before a northbound train struck him.

Police are now investigating the deadly incident and reviewing video from the Blue Line train to piece it all together.

“Aside from the tragedy of this being life-ending, these things are life-changing for a lot of folks,” Padilla said.

It’s the second deadly accident in just four days. Friday, a 21-year-old woman was killed as she was crossing University Avenue in St. Paul near Kent Street. She had crossed the tracks and was hit by the westbound Green Line train.

It all added up to three deadly light rail incidents so far this year, which matches the total light rail deaths in 2018.

Numbers from Metro Transit show over the past 15 years since the Blue Line began, there have been 15 fatalities involving pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles.

In the five years the Green Line has been running, there have been eight fatalities.

“One is too many, but every time one of these things happen, we evaluate,” Padilla said.

One newer safety feature is a specific flashing light.

“As the train’s coming and as the horn it hit, there’s what they call ‘wig-wag’ lights. Bright lights that alternate that kind of try to get someone’s attention to say, ‘Hey, a train’s coming,’” Padilla said.

Metro Transit wants everyone to remember: If you see tracks, think train.

“If you see the lights and hear the bells, that’s going to go away in a minute or two. That minute or two that you might have to wait, that’s worth your life,” Padilla added.

Metro Transit also told FOX 9 that, as they grow into new communities like Eden Prairie in the coming years, they will be doing a full-fledged marketing campaign on safety to get people in the mindset of living around a rail system.