In only its third week of operation, the Sunrail commuter train in Orlando has struck its second car. The car was stuck on the tracks in front of the oncoming train which felt only “a slight bump” when it hit the car. The woman had to scramble out of the car and got clipped by the train, requiring hospitalization. Commuters on the train were stuck during the police investigation and the intersection was shut down. All commuter traffic on the rail line had to stop. The first train/car crash occurred only five days after Sunrail opened! In that case, the driver did not run a gate, but did not have space to get his trailer off the tracks due to traffic in front of him not moving.
This will be the future of commuting in Pinellas if voters pass the “Greenlight Pinellas” 300% tax revenue hike in November. The sales tax rate would be raised 14% to build a 24 mile train connecting only St. Petersburg and Clearwater that would run on surface streets. The train would be even more accident prone since it would travel right down the middle of many surface streets, immediately next to cars. It will travel through 41 intersections with no plans for crossing gates as were present for the Sun Rail Train (but still failed to prevent the crash). While there will be bad driving habits that lead to some of these crashes, the fact is they would not occur at all without the train. In addition, when they do occur, they inconvenience thousands who have either relied on the train for transit or have road congestion caused by a train blocking intersections during an “after-crash investigation”.
Train crashes like this are commonplace in Houston where a train similar to that planned for Greenlight is in place. See maps of train locations on surface streets in downtown St. Pete and on 62nd Ave N we published previously.