On This Sunday: Four in One Afternoon

Tuesday was an unusual day for Bay Area commuters.

All during afternoon rush hours Tuesday, four rail-related incidents played out where trains struck something or someone: Caltrain against a pedestrian in San Mateo, VTA light rail train against a pedestrian south of Fruitdale in San Jose, Amtrak against a car in Santa Clara and BART against a person at San Bruno station.

Individuals in the VTA and BART incidents died shortly after while no injuries were reported in the Amtrak incident. No word on the condition of the pedestrian involved with the Caltrain commuter rail train.

I was affected by the VTA incident. I left work in North San Jose at 4 p.m. — an hour earlier than usual — and was supposed to be home in Campbell by 5:30 p.m. Long story short, I ultimately arrived home at 8:10 p.m. There were a bunch of conflicting information about bus bridges that resulted in me getting home nearly three hours later than expected. Now, I already have a plan in place if something like this happens again.

I don’t believe there was a connection among the four incidents although it was certainly unusual as it all played out in the same region among similar modes within minutes or hours of each other. In all my years as a transit rider, this is one of the rare occasions where I’m affected by a major system disruption. Not fun at all for anyone to endure.

Caltrain has certainly been experiencing an uptick in fatalities on its tracks this year, surpassing records of previous years. More than a dozen have died this year, some of them ruled apparent suicides, after being struck by its commuter rail trains at mostly at-grade crossings. The agency in charge of operating Caltrain has taken measures to mitigate the number of deaths involving its trains including upgraded signage and signals and increased patrols along its crossings. Long term, grade separation throughout much of its route should greatly help although nothing will fully stop people from finding their way onto the tracks.

No matter where you live, committing suicide by trains isn’t the answer. Even if it doesn’t always seem like it, your potential actions also put others in danger as well. Talk to someone if you feel this way. Call 1 (800) 273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. We really don’t need anything like Tuesday in the Bay Area again. None of us do, especially you.