VTA showcases rail safety enforcement blitz to remind community of rules to follow

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, September 23, 2022
VTA showcases rail safety enforcement blitz
It's Rail Safety Month, which is partially why the VTA is providing the community a rare, behind-the-scenes look at light rail safety enforcement.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- September marks Rail Safety Month, which is partially why the Valley Transportation Authority is providing the community a rare, behind-the-scenes look at light rail safety enforcement.

The goal of this exercise, that they do multiple times of a year, is to remind drivers, pedestrians and light-rail riders of the rules they need to follow, no matter how much of a hurry they're in.

As sheriff's office patrol deputies watched on foot for drivers behaving badly and officers on motorcycles followed those in too much of a hurry to get to work on Friday, VTA officials want to draw attention to traffic safety.

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"Just to ensure that our system is as safe as it can possibly be," Stacey Hendler Ross, a spokesperson for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, said.

This safety enforcement comes after three deaths and one serious injury at intersections like Southwest Expressway and Stokes in San Jose, just in the past few years. These accidents happened specifically because people chose to ignore the warning signs that come with traffic arms.

"Sometimes people chose to ignore that and we want to make sure that vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists coming through this area are paying attention to this warning equipment because it's there for a good reason," Hendler Ross said.

Although sheriff's deputies are giving out some citations and warnings, they hope to make Friday a learning experience.

"Our preference though whether its today's operation or continuously throughout the year, is more education and awareness, to give folks a chance to understand that crossing against the rail arms or crossing against a red, especially if it's at or near the VTA stations, it's very unsafe, and not only puts their lives in danger but those around them as well," Capt. Jose Cardoza, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department said.

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But it doesn't end there.

Bomb-sniffing K9 officers were put to work too on the light rail.

"We have EOD trained K9 units, explosive ordinance devices, they're trained to detect bomb materials, anything related to that sort of nature, we're going to be doing tons of sweeps this morning and throughout the day," Cardoza said.

Officers are also looking for signs of human trafficking and they're unleashing the fare inspectors too, to make sure every person paid for Friday's ride.

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