Thursday, April 12, 2007

Halt the Horn Blowers

The Bakersfield City Council met recently to discuss several local issues--one of them being the obnoxiously loud, honking horns of the trains as they pass through downtown. I’ve complained about them here before, and they don’t even really bother me that bad. The train runs along Truxtun and 16th streets, just North of California Ave. I’m about five blocks away, and every so often, when I am awakened in the middle of the night, I find it hard to go back to sleep with sounds of blasting train whistles. People who live closer have it a lot worse. My father, whose sleep patterns are rivaled only by The Princess and the Pea, hasn’t slept though the night in months.

The problem all started when the feds came up with the bright idea of requiring trains to honk for 15 to 20 seconds at each city crossing. Presumably the honking is meant to warn people who might be snoozing on the tracks to get the hell out of the way. I’d be interested to learn how successful the program has been. What we do know is that residents near the train tracks are losing sleep and businesses are losing revenue.

As far as I can tell the problem really lies with the train conductors. Some politely toot their horns as glide through the crossing. Others lay it on with the zeal and determination of a Russian weight lifter -grunting, steaming, and groaning loudly for the duration. Either way, there doesn’t appear to be an easy fix for the problem of the tooting trains.

Unless, that is, we could force the conductors to live near the rail road crossings – maybe then they’d develop an appreciation for the subtlety of a lightly honked horn.