Vehicle and Pedestrian Safety at Light Rail Stops in Mixed Traffic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - australasia, planning - safety/accidents, mode - pedestrian, mode - car, infrastructure - stop


light rail safety, tram stops, easy access stop


A significant flaw in light rail safety research is the omission of mixed traffic (or streetcar) environments despite evidence that these are a major safety challenge. The safety impacts of new tram stop designs in Melbourne, Australia, with one of the world's largest streetcar systems, were reviewed. A major finding was that 82% of safety incidents associated with streetcars were auto-pedestrian conflicts. Previous research did not consider these conflicts accidents and identified poor monitoring of such incidents. Before-and-after analysis shows that new platform stops reduced collision rates: auto-pedestrian (62%) and auto-tram stop (12%). Tram-pedestrian collisions did not change except at the busiest stop, where total incidents were reduced by 53%, but tram-pedestrian rates increased. However, patronage growth increased exposure at this stop. An alternative, poorer quality, incident database also showed a decline in tram-pedestrian (10%) and auto-tram stop (25%) incident rates after platform stops were introduced. These findings also suggest that auto-pedestrian incidents may have increased; however, data quality and inconsistency with other findings suggest caution about this result. A road safety audit of tram stops showed that new designs have reduced intolerable safety risks, compared with older designs. The new, easy access stop is particularly attractive because of the reduced speed of passing autos. Ironically, the older and inappropriately named, safety zone stop had the largest number of serious safety risks. Overall findings suggest that the new tram stop designs have resulted in significant safety benefits. Implications for further planning and research are also suggested.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by TRB, copyright remains with them.