TACOMA, Wash. — School buses are no longer required to stop at a railroad crossing here that trains use infrequently and at low speeds.

The goal of the change, officials said, is to prevent vehicle crashes on a road where traffic moves fast.

The rail crossing is on Route 509 near Alexander Avenue in Tacoma. Officials for Tacoma Public Schools said that because of sudden stops and vehicles traveling at 50 mph in the area, vehicle crashes have occurred when buses were required by law to stop so the driver could look both ways for trains.

The district worked on the issue with the Washington State Department of Transportation, which recently changed that rail crossing to “exempt,” so school buses — as well as other commercial vehicles with a capacity of eight or more passengers — don’t need to stop there.

The crossing is on a route that buses traverse to and from Stadium High School. Tacoma Public Schools officials said that the regulation change aims to “increase the safety of our Stadium student bus riders and other motorists who drive state Route 509.”

School buses will continue to stop at other rail crossings along Route 509. The crossing near Alexander Avenue is the only one with exempt status, district officials said.

Ahmer Nizam of the state Department of Transportation told The News Tribune that the crossing is used only by three trains per week going to a repair facility. Nizam also told the news source that those trains travel at a maximum of 10 mph, and most of them move at night and stop before proceeding through the crossing.

Here's a Google Maps "Street View" of the crossing:

About the author
Thomas McMahon

Thomas McMahon

Executive Editor

Thomas had covered the pupil transportation industry with School Bus Fleet since 2002. When he's not writing articles about yellow buses, he enjoys running long distances and making a joyful noise with his guitar.

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