We read with interest your lead story in last week’s Business Times about the train accident on Feb. 24. On March 1 we were on the Amtrak Surfliner northbound from San Diego to Oxnard when we were stopped in Camarillo because of another accident involving a car being hit by an Amtrak train just north of Camarillo.
We are also seeing more and more deaths of pedestrians on the tracks. Pedestrian bridges over tracks, chain link fences along the entire route of the tracks and enhanced crossing guards would be a start, which is a very expensive route to take, but will save lives. With California traffic congestion becoming more and more of a problem, the train is going to be a vital mode of transportation and the infrastructure of public train transportation must be improved. Possibly the March 1 accident will start a serious and very necessary project for all of us.
— Brian Robertson
Robertson International Travel Consultants, Santa Barbara
A $30 million dollar boondoggle. That is what the proposed plan to build a fly over at Rice Avenue and 5th Street should be labeled. I suspect that those of you under 40 do not know Ruben (AKA Rube) Goldberg and many of you over 70 may have forgotten him. Goldberg was a cartoonist who drew elaborate solutions to simple tasks such as opening a garage door. He was the antithesis to engineers, who by trait design elegant and aesthetic solutions to problems.
A typical train crossing is an elegant, aesthetically pleasing and simple solution for warning people of an imminent danger. The solution does not take into account people who get confused, impatient or suicidal. Just $120,000 a year could pay for 24 /7 (three people at $15.00 per hour) coverage to man the crossing; it’s an elegant and simple solution that may not be as pleasing to some fiscal watchdogs. Just $300,000 could pay for better lighting to avoid confusion.
I suspect that a Goldberg solution would include a pair of jackasses (four-legged), a couple of lanterns, some flags, poles, ropes and pulleys.
None of these solutions resolve the issue of people who can’t wait two to five minutes for a train to pass (I have had to wait more than 10 minutes at Rose and 5th while a short Ventura County Railroad freight train changed tracks). Spending $30 million for a fly-away will not help those who need treatment for mental health issues. The $30 million could be better spent somewhere else.
— Larry Stein