Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Metrolink Crash

Everyone in Ventura County is feeling grief and a sense of loss from the Metrolink crash along the Ventura County line in Chatsworth on Friday, which killed 26 people. Almost all the victims lived in Ventura County, mostly in Moorpark and Simi Valley. Our hearts go out to all the victims -- and especially to our two devastated neighboring communities.

Our hearts especially go out to the family of Dean Brower of Ventura, who perished in the crash. Dean, his wife Kim, and their three children are a wonderful family with very big hearts. I remember Kim from the years that she organized the annual Girl Scout appearance at the City Council (my daughter sometimes participated). You can read more about Dean's life in yesterday's L.A. Times story. You can also learn more about Dean and his family on the web site of their family business, Pulse Drumming. The story of their family is very heart-rending, which makes Dean's loss even more sad.

I'm feeling this loss in so many ways. Among other things, I ride this line pretty frequently, and I'm also Ventura's representative on the Ventura County Transportation Commission, which is one of Metrolink's member agencies. If you're a Metrolink rider, you might be a little skittish about getting back on the train, and that's understandable. But it's kind of like flying in an airplane -- overall, the odds of an accident are very slim. I plan to get back on the train on Thursday for meetings in downtown L.A.

As of today, Ventura has no train service at all. The Pacific Surfliner is not running north of Los Angeles, and Metrolink is terminating in Chatsworth, with buses to Simi Valley and Moorpark. Service should be restored by Wednesday or perhaps Thursday at the latest. You can keep track of the schedule on the Metrolink web site.

Friday's crash highlighted some of the operational difficulties in running a commuter rail system alongside a busy freight system in a regional where there is lots of single track. If you want to read more about this aspect of the situation, check out the blog I wrote yesterday in my day-job capacity as publisher of California Planning & Development Report.

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