Poor implementation of a traffic light algorithm

For the greater part of the last year, the local transit authorities have been at work on a new light-rail system in my area. I love the idea of the system, in that it will hopefully cut down the amount of traffic on the 78 freeway, however, I have a few gripes with the system's implementation. Almost the entire system (at least the portion in my city) runs along a major road, which I use everyday, and horribly interferes with the traffic light algorithm in a major intersection.

Now I understand that when a train is crossing a road, cars cannot also cross that same road, but that's not what I take issue with. Unlike the systems I've found at most railway crossings, this particular intersection treats the oncoming train like it's an oncoming ambulance. It simply sets all the traffic lights to red and forces everyone to wait regardless of whether the train would actually block your path.

This bothers me for two reasons. First off, it annoys me to sit at an intersection at a light that is red for all four directions. If the train only blocks the left hand turn path, I should be permitted (by a green light) to drive straight. However, at this intersection, I must wait for the train either way. This annoyance is only worsened by the fact that the train also resets the light sequence. It doesn't even pick back up where it last was. Often times I'll pull up to the intersection just as the light has changed to red. I sit there like everyone else and wait for it to turn green again, but just as it does, the train comes and everything is set back to red with a complete reset. Then, once it's passed, I have to wait through the whole cycle again until it's my turn to drive through.

This isn't just a little annoyance that happens every once in a while. I hit this situation three times yesterday afternoon alone. Once on my way to lunch, once on my way home, and then once when leaving the office. Come on transit authority, are you really so lazy that your have to add a "temporarily-disrupt-commuter-travel" box instead of reprogramming the light algorithm to correctly allow traffic to pass through the intersection unobstructed by the train?

posted by Christopher Schnese