ChronWhopper METRO crash update: Chron story off by hundreds of crashes

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On 3 January 2014, we called attention to a “Highwayman” post from the Chron‘s incurious transportation secretarial journalist, who had reported what was clearly a ridiculously low number of Danger Train crashes since the start of light-rail service in 2004. In our post, we noted:

I had personally tracked 106 collisions by August 2005, so [the “Highwayman”/Chron] figure of 66 collisions in 2004 and 2005 is clearly incorrect, and the figure of 166 total over a decade is hardly more believable. Of course, local media got bored with all of the collisions at some point, so we don’t actually have an accurate figure to cite authoritatively at the moment (that would require a public information request of METRO).

Now that a public information request has been completed, we can say definitively that the “Highwayman”/Chron figure was clearly inaccurate, to the point of being laughable. We have uploaded the spreadsheet compiled by METRO of light-rail/car crashes from inception (late 2003, actually) to early 2014, and posted it to Google Docs for sharing (you will probably need to log in to Google to view the spreadsheet; we can provide the original upon request).

Whereas the Chronicle‘s incurious transportation secretarial journalist asserted that METRO’s light-rail line had seen 166 crashes in its first decade, and 66 crashes in 2004 and 2005, METRO’s record of collisions along the rail line shows over 400 incidents* since the light rail opened through 2013, and 120 incidents for 2004 and 2005.

Clearly, as we noted previously, something went wrong with the research that appeared in the pro-light-rail Houston Chronicle, which under-reported the number of collisions that have taken place along the existing rail line by hundreds. Expect many more such collisions as METRO continues to open more at-grade rail lines.

* The figure includes 2 crashes that were reported in December 2013 for the new North rail line expansion

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX


  1. Wow, Over the ten year period, an average of 45 wrecks each year.

    There has already been two (2) METRO Tram wrecks on the new North alignment in the first ten days of operation in December 2013. (a Pedestrian and a Vehicle accident)

    Imagine, the total of TRAM – Vehicle – Pedestrian Accidents, with 4 operating METROrail alignments in 2016, simply by using the average number over the ten years.

    My Opinion: “New” METRO has created inherently dangerous conditions in city streets.

  2. Tram crashes do not fit the Progressive’s narrative that everyone should embrace urban rail, and that everyone should rush to move into the human beehives (TOD’s) so as to be able to ride the glorious tram, and help comrade Porker transform Houston into another Ho Chi Minh City. We already have a Ho Chi Minh bike trail in Memorial Park.

  3. I am a big proponent of rail, but even I know that at-grade rail is doomed automobile collisions going through town like this. In the median of an interstate? Probably not. But sharing the road with unpredictable, often law-breaking drivers who don’t think twice about driving the wrong way down one way streets or making a left turn across four lanes of traffic is a recipe for collisions. Unfortunately, we had enough trouble securing funding for at-grade rail that below- or above-grade rail seem unattainable.

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