Bus and Blue Line commuter train collide in Los Angeles

The scene following a crash between a Metro bus and Blue Line train Monday morning, Aug. 27 at San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard.
The scene following a crash between a Metro bus and Blue Line train Monday morning, Aug. 27 at San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard.
Brian Watt/KPCC
The scene following a crash between a Metro bus and Blue Line train Monday morning, Aug. 27 at San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard.
A Metro Blue Line train collided with a Metro bus at San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard on Monday, Aug. 27.

A Metro Blue Line train and a Metro bus collided Monday morning south of downtown Los Angeles, resulting in 32 injuries, one of them labeled serious, authorities said. Three of those people were bus passengers, while the rest were train passengers.

The accident at San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard happened just before 7 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. After the collision, the bus then knocked down a traffic signal.

It appears the train clipped the rear of the bus and then the bus struck a light pole, said Rick Jager, a Metro spokesman, but the incident is still under investigation.

Jager said a total of 31 people suffered minor injuries while another was described as serious based on his complaints of dizziness.

Paramedics were sent to assess the medical condition of people from the bus and train, which was en route to Long Beach, said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey. Complaints included knee and back pain, Humphrey said.

The bus, operating on line 51, was southbound on San Pedro Street when the accident occurred, said Helen Ortiz Gilstrap of Metro. The bus would have been carrying around 60 people, according to a Metro spokesman.

Buses were sent to the location to provide transportation for passengers affected by the accident, Gilstrap said. Train service was restored around 9 a.m., Jager said.

The train did not derail and the bus also was able to later move away under its own power.

Humphrey said about 150 people aboard the train later continued their journey.

Crash investigators will review video recorded from the Blue Line train and the bus. The operators will be interviewed and drug tested, said Metro spokesman Marc Littman. He did not reveal the name of the operators, but said the Blue Line train operator had been working on Metro rails for about a year or two. Littman said rail operators are trained as bus drivers before they can operate a train. Training is done in-house.

Four years ago, a Metro Blue Line train collided with an out-of-service Metro bus at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Griffith Avenue. No passengers were on the bus, but about a dozen rail passengers were treated for minor injuries.

Then in 2010, another Blue Line train hit a bus near Broadway and Washington. Eight people were injured.

All three Blue Line train versus bus crashes, including Monday's, occurred near the San Pedro station and all occurred around 7 a.m.

Andrew Ahumada attends LA Trade Tech and rides the Montebello bus line that picks up across the street from the San Pedro station. He said he was not surprised to learn that it was a bus that collided with the train.

“[Buses] will run a red light, they’ll run a yellow light because they’re trying to beat the time to make sure they get to their stops on time because they don’t wan to have a whole backlog of people they have to wait for," he said.

The intersection at Washington Boulevard does have train warning lights and ringing bells to alert drivers and pedestrians, but no traffic gates are installed.

Monday's collision is only the most recent for the Blue Line train, which has had more than 20 accidents so far this year — six of which involved fatalities. Three of these deaths have been confirmed as suicides and one other is currently being investigated as such, Jager told OnCentral last month.

"Traditionally we haven't had this many fatalities in this short of a time period in years past," Jager said.

In response to the significant "uptick" in fatalities along the light-rail line which runs from Long Beach to downtown L.A., a Metro task force will be assembled to look into current safety procedures, traffic issues and more, and report back in November with findings and possible solutions.

Jager said that this review is mostly in response to the number of fatalities along the line, and that part of the task force's job will be to look into suicide prevention strategies.

This story has been updated.