Ross: What can Sound Transit do to make its light rail platforms safer?

When you’re in a high-rise building and the elevator stops at your floor, what happens? The door opens. Right? Bad! Two sets of doors open!

This is the norm with elevators. There are no buildings with open elevator shafts where you walk to the edge and wait for the elevator to rise in front of you.

So why are there still raised railway platforms without platform doors? Or at least guards?

On Sunday, a woman fell as a train approached Mount Baker station in Seattle and was killed. It’s terrible…but I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. Not just here, but on other transit systems that also don’t have platform doors.

As a kid, I loved the New York City subway, but we were raised with a healthy fear of using it. The platforms were completely open – still are – a meter and a half above the rails, while a third rail could electrocute you if you fell. I always stood against a wall or a pole until the train arrived. It was like that.

But it’s not the 1960s. It shouldn’t be possible to fall on a train track or trip over a train. Think of it as a horizontal elevator.

Platform screen doors are nothing new…the airport commuter has had them all along. The monorail has them at Westlake.

Paris, Singapore, China and Bulgaria all have them. They make people feel safer.

Sound Transit is actually one of the safest systems because the platforms aren’t that high, there’s no third rail, and it’s not crowded. But when the Eastside opens and Lynnwood opens it becomes a real problem with hundreds of people crammed into the docks. And they will favor children and the elderly because they don’t drive.

And I intend to be one of those old people. So do whatever it takes to make us feel safe.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 to 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jose P. Rogers