What is involved with Subway, Trolley or Monorail transportation?

Thousands of people commute each day using Subway train systems. Other more unusual forms of mass transit include trolleys and streetcars, which may be used for daily commutes in cities like San Francisco, Boston and New Orleans; and monorails, which can be found in cities like Orlando (Disney World) and Las Vegas, used to transport tourists, or Seattle, for commuters.

All of these types of commuter vehicles would be classified under the law as “common carriers,” or transportation-for-hire providers. The law requires common carriers to make sure that passengers safely reach their destinations. The law holds common carriers liable for injuries to a passenger that happens during transportation if the carrier could have prevented the accident by taking greater care.

What are the dangers in Subway, Trolley or Monorail accidents?

Subway stations pose hazards to passengers and those waiting along the platform. Injuries and deaths that occur with subway trains usually are due to negligence and may include situations involving:

• Slip and falls
• Assaults on the subway
• Injuries caused by sudden stops
• Collisions with other trains or objects on the track
• Derailment
• Passengers getting caught in doors

Trolleys may pose a risk of injury to passengers, as well as to pedestrians, motorists and bystanders. These large vehicles often must navigate busy city streets. In particular, trolleys and streetcars are involved in accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists resulting in catastrophic injury and death. Causes of trolley and streetcar accidents include:

• Sudden stops made by the trolley operator
• Worn or poorly maintained tracks
• Negligent operation by the driver
• Defects in the operating mechanisms of the trolley car
• Malfunctioning or missing safety alerts like lights, horns, gates

Monorails are much less common forms of mass transit in the U.S., but they do carry thousands of passengers each year. This is especially true for monorails transporting tourists in convention-rich Las Vegas, and visitors to Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

Modern monorails depend on a large solid beam as the vehicle’s running surface. They are usually powered by electric motors, although there are some that operate with diesel power. Monorails are considered a modern form of public transportation.

The most common cause of accidents with monorails is collision with another train or an object on the rail. Other reported monorail accidents involved electrical fires, and defective track switching systems that caused trains to collide.

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