At grade rail passenger systems are the most problematic of transportation modes with regard to other transportation systems, modes and facilities, as well as, with pedestrian and land use settings. Steel rail tracks and vehicles are not adaptable or connectable to any other type or mode of transportation, except at locations or stations where passengers must exit the system and enter another system altogether. As such, light and heavy rail passenger systems cannot easily be connected as feeder or links to other systems. The multi-modal convergence of Amtrak, subway, bus, and Metrolink heavy rail and light rail systems at Los Angeles Union Station brings all the services into close proximity, but requires the physical transfer of passengers from one station platform to another in order to complete the interface and continuity of service. The continuous through service on the Gold Line from Pasadena to East Los Angeles is considered a single transit system.
Conflicting, or negative interface, often takes the form of collisions with automobile, fright train and other transportation modes, as well as, with pedestrians. The highest mass transit accident, collision, death and injury statistics involve at grade rail passenger vehicles and systems. Interface between steel rail, steel wheeled passenger vehicles and most other human activities and environments are generally negative. Accidents within the Los Angeles region have unfortunately averaged nearly one fatality per week, in spite of the existing safety devices and operator efforts. Proposed safety improvements are not anticipated to completely eliminate these problems.
Transportation authorities’ insistence on planning and building rail systems in the middle of existing urban streets continues to produce disruptive and dangerous rail operations that significantly congest the streets and surrounding neighborhoods on which they are imposed. The highest form of such convoluted planning is evident in the proposed LA Streetcar; to be built on four miles of the most congested streets in downtown Los Angeles.