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Date: 11/15/12 23:13
Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: SD45_P-comm

Hello all,

Question for you guys (and gals),

Are transit (passenger) buses, school buses and fuel trucks required to stop at railroad grade crossings that are marked "Tracks Out of Service?" Here in my city, there's a grade crossing where the "Tracks Out of Service" sign is posted about 50 to 75 feet before the crossing, yet transit buses, school buses and certain trucks still come to a *complete* stop before going over the crossing, just as they would if they were approaching an active grade crossing. I think we all know that it is a requirement for buses (most of them, anyway), school buses and gasoline trailer trucks to stop at grade crossings before going over them. I used the phrase "most buses" because I don't know how the law affects privately-owned buses, such as those huge, custom touring buses used by, say, touring musicians and the like.

It seems to me that when a grade crossing gets marked "Tracks Out of Service," it's basically another way of saying "Trains don't come through here no mo'!"

So why even stop at grade crossings that are no longer active?

Note: the attached pictures are *not* the specific signs in my city that I referred to above. These are just 2 random pictures I downloaded from the internet to use as examples.

Thanks in advance for any answers.

SD45






Date: 11/15/12 23:19
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: chakk

As a grandparent, I would hope that the school buses STOP at all RR grade crossings, regardless of whether any signs are present that state the track is out of service. Safety First.



Date: 11/15/12 23:44
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: puddlejumper

If the tracks are marked "exempt" buses and fuel trucks do not have to stop.

The "tracks out of service" sign might not meet the exempt requirement. Perhaps just a technicality due to the wording of the law.



Date: 11/16/12 00:25
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: kg6nlw

In California the law states:

VC22452: Before traversing a railroad grade crossing, the driver of a vehicle described in subdivision (a) shall stop that vehicle not less than 15 nor more than 50 feet from the nearest rail of the track and while so stopped shall listen, and look in both directions along the track, for an approaching train and for signals indicating the approach of a train, and shall not proceed until he or she can do so safely. Upon proceeding, the gears shall not be shifted manually while crossing the tracks.

This applies for busses, farm labor vehicles carrying passengers, motor-truck transporting employees besides those in the cab, school bus, ANY cargo or hazmat vehicle.

When an official RR Exempt Sign is in compliance with Vehicle Code (VC21400) placed by the DOT or local authority you need not stop. School busses are exempt from this law and are governed by the original law above regardless.

Hope this helps!

Regards,

-Frank C.

Frank Christ
Cloverdale, CA
FranksRails.com Photography



Date: 11/16/12 00:25
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: Captain92

When I was driving school bus, it was district policy to stop at all crossings. I saw a neighboring school district going through a signaled crossing without stopping and asked my supervisor about it. He said it wasn't a state law but district policy that had us stopping. The other district decided it was more dangerous to stop in the roadway (which it was) than risk getting hit by a train. Placarded vehicles stop at all crossings by law. Transit buses only stopped at unsignaled crossings. Never looked up to see what the law said.



Date: 11/16/12 00:29
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: DPKrause

I think it is quite strictly enforced here in Canada. There was a CPR line that crossed the Trans-Canada highway outside of Bassano, Ab. that was pulled up a couple of years ago, but the rails in the road surface & crossing signals remained in place for another 6 months or so. The Greyhound buses were still stopping here until the crossing was paved over. The fuel & crude oil trucks around here display decals stating ''this vehicle stops at UNCONTROLLED railroad crossings''.



Date: 11/16/12 01:23
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: GP25

I think it is also a federally mandated law as well?

I know some Metro Bus Operators here in Los Angeles.

Said it was a federal law as well for all Buses to stop
at all RR Crossings. Unless the Tracks was out of service/Exempt.

Jerry Martin
Los Angeles, CA
Central Coast Railroad Festival



Date: 11/16/12 05:44
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: dt8089

There are exceptions to this rule. If the crossing is protected by a traffic control device (Traffic light) then a stop is not required. Crossing being flagged by railroad employee or peace officer. And the exempt sign is the other. Also in some states (Illinois for one) there is an exemption involving industrial track. If one has 500 feet of vision both directions they can do a slow roll without stopping. Each state has their own regs along with the Federal ones that deal with railroad crossings. Dan

Posted from Android



Date: 11/16/12 05:53
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: BNSF6400

In California, school buses only have to stop if there are passengers aboard. No passengers, no stopping. Also, as far as exempt signs, there are TWO types of exempt signs: Yellow with Black Letters, school buses must stop but the older (and no longer installed) Black with yellow writing exempt signs allow a school bus to not stop. Finally, if the crossing is governs by a traffic signal or peace officer, they the bus isn't required to stop.

The original question of way stop at tracks with OUT OF SERVICE signs? I know of one industrial track that was marked this way for many years and then one day I was driving by and the Out of Service signs were gone and a Santa Fe locomotive was switching a new customer on that track. For safety sake, you stop at the crossing until the rails themselves are physically removed.



Date: 11/16/12 06:44
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: CCMF

In Ontario:

At crossings without automatic protection all buses and school buses must stop and open the front door.

If it is protected, it is the same for school buses but regular transit or coaches are exempt. (But there may be a company policy to stop)

Bill Miller
Galt, ON



Date: 11/16/12 06:54
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: HRGXguy

At the Federal level, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is the accepted standard. See 23 CFR Part 655, Subpart F.

Here are the two signs, EXEMPT and DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS. Note the differences in their effect and use.
_______________________
Section 8B.07 EXEMPT Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Plaques (R15-3P, W10-1aP)

Option:
01 When authorized by law or regulation, a supplemental EXEMPT (R15-3P) plaque (see Figure 8B-1) with a white background may be used below the Crossbuck sign or Number of Tracks plaque, if present, at the grade crossing, and a supplemental EXEMPT (W10-1aP) plaque (see Figure 8B-4) with a yellow background may be used below the Grade Crossing Advance Warning (W10 series) sign.

02 Where neither the Crossbuck sign nor the advance warning signs exist for a particular highway-LRT grade crossing, an EXEMPT (R15-3P) plaque with a white background may be placed on its own post on the near right-hand side of the approach to the crossing.

Support:
03 These supplemental plaques inform drivers of highway vehicles carrying passengers for hire, school buses carrying students, or highway vehicles carrying hazardous materials that a stop is not required at certain designated grade crossings, except when rail traffic is approaching or occupying the grade crossing, or the driver's view is blocked.
_________________________
Section 8B.10 TRACKS OUT OF SERVICE Sign (R8-9)

Option:
01 The TRACKS OUT OF SERVICE (R8-9) sign (see Figure 8B-1) may be used at a grade crossing instead of a Crossbuck (R15-1) sign and a Number of Tracks (R15-2P) plaque or instead of a Crossbuck Assembly when railroad or LRT tracks have been temporarily or permanently abandoned, but only until such time that the tracks are removed or covered.

Standard:
02 When tracks are out of service, traffic control devices and gate arms shall be removed and the signal heads shall be removed or hooded or turned from view to clearly indicate that they are not in operation.

03 The R8-9 sign shall be removed when the tracks have been removed or covered or when the grade crossing is returned to service.
_______________________
HRGXguy,
The Federal regulation about which classes of vehicles must stop at crossings is found at: 49 CFR Parts 392.10 and 392.11



Date: 11/16/12 08:11
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: toledopatch

In Ohio, an EXEMPT sign relieves all vehicles that would otherwise have to "stop and check" of having to do so, including school buses. Exempt crossings are typically on busy roads where the track has little or no train traffic, such as the Maumee & Western crossing of US 6/24 on the east side of Napoleon, and the risk of a stopped bus or tank truck being hit from behind is deemed a greater hazard than a train collision.

It appears to me in the picture posted at the top of this thread that the flashing lights have been turned to face each other, and thus away from traffic, in compliance with HRGX's posting explaining the TRACKS NOT IN SERVICE sign. Can't tell if the gates have been removed. If so, then it would seem to me that qualifying vehicles would not need to stop at the crossing described.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/16/12 08:47 by toledopatch.



Date: 11/16/12 08:16
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: whistlepig

At Railroad Pass on U.S. Highway 95 approaching Boulder City In Nevada and northbound as well, the state paved over the old unused U.P. crossing, we all knew the line was out of service, but the state did not apply the "exempt" tag for a few months. We were still required to stop even though the tracks had been paved over. This was due to the fact that the "exempt" sign was not there. The cantilever lights are still there, but not used. I'm talking about driving 45 foot MCI, Van Hool and Setra tour buses. I was with Arrow Stage Lines for many years before, during and after my years with Amtrak. I was also a driving instructor and taught all my students that unless there's an "exempt" sign you stop, unless you're empty. The "exempt" thing is nationwide from my experience. One of our drivers got stopped on highway 95 for not stopping. No citation, but he got a warning. A week later up came the exempt signs. One particularly bad place is where Ca. highway 58 crosses the BNSF west of Barstow and a little east of Boron California. Even with a special lane created for buses and fuel trucks to stop, it's pretty nasty with traffic going by you at 60+ mph. I always started slowing down with my emergency flashers on at least 1/2 mile before it.



Date: 11/16/12 08:17
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: cjvrr

HRGX, you beat me to it. That is from the MUTCD...the traffic engineer's bible so to speak.

CV the civil E in NJ



Date: 11/16/12 11:58
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: jerryheng

In Ohio, read the Ohio code at http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.63:

Seems pretty straight-forward to me. Patch, do you remember this article from 2005? http://www.toledoblade.com/frontpage/2005/06/20/U-S-6-24-rail-crossing-likely-to-get-exemption.html - Jerry

toledopatch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In Ohio, an EXEMPT sign relieves all vehicles that
> would otherwise have to "stop and check" of having
> to do so, including school buses. Exempt crossings
> are typically on busy roads where the track has
> little or no train traffic, such as the Maumee &
> Western crossing of US 6/24 on the east side of
> Napoleon...



Date: 11/16/12 12:15
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: a737flyer

I believe the sign has to state "Exempt"



Date: 11/16/12 13:25
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: Lackawanna484

a737flyer Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I believe the sign has to state "Exempt"

There's also a cost involved in getting a crossing defined as "exempt", compared to "out of service". The owner loses a lot of flexibility for making a crossing exempt.

There was a crossing of busy US 46 in Totowa NJ by a seldom used branch of the Lackawanna. It ran from the wye of the DL&W southward, to service several industries and a water treatment plant. Several hundred buses had to stop look and listen each day for a line that saw one or two movements a year, toward the end.

PVWC owned the track, and could convert the signals etc to back into service in an hour when necessary.

The crossing disappeared during a road improvement project a few years ago.



Date: 11/16/12 14:10
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: RioGrandeFan

A friend of mine works for RTD (the local city transit company) in the Denver/Boulder, Colorado area and says that if the sign is "Tracks Out of Service" they don't have to stop.

I find it interesting that it can vary across the US.

I've always followed the mantra, "When in doubt, take the safe course of action". This applies to a lot of things!

Lee Ryan - Rio Grande Fan
Denver, CO



Date: 11/16/12 14:16
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: needles_sub

I always stop at tracks marked out of service, paved over or other wise, if there is no exempt sign. I have talked with drivers that were ticketed going over out of service and not stopping. The went to court, but when the judge asked the officer why he ticketed the driver. The officer stated that even though the tracks were out of service, he felt the safe and prudent thing to do would be to stop. The judge sided with the officer. The driver was carrying food stuffs for a grocery store. The words, "safe and prudent" pretty well convict the driver.



Date: 11/16/12 15:36
Re: Question about buses stopping at RR crossings
Author: toledopatch

needles_sub Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I always stop at tracks marked out of service,
> paved over or other wise, if there is no exempt
> sign. I have talked with drivers that were
> ticketed going over out of service and not
> stopping. The went to court, but when the judge
> asked the officer why he ticketed the driver. The
> officer stated that even though the tracks were
> out of service, he felt the safe and prudent thing
> to do would be to stop. The judge sided with the
> officer. The driver was carrying food stuffs for a
> grocery store. The words, "safe and prudent"
> pretty well convict the driver.

Sounds like a cop making up the law on his own, and a feeble judge agreeing with him. If the state code says a driver doesn't have to stop at a TRACKS NOT IN SERVICE sign, then that's the law, no matter what the cop thinks is "safe and prudent."



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