The horns of light rail trains whizzing through North County neighborhoods will be quieted during a one-month test program in certain areas, as the Mass Transit Administration tries to address the noise concern of residents who live near train tracks.
"Our plan is to begin on Dec. 1 to use an alternate means of notifying or warning motorists of oncoming light rail vehicles," John Agro Jr., administrator of the Mass Transit Administration, said Friday.
During the pilot program, trains in the West Road/Linden Road and Glendale Avenue areas will flash their lights to alert motorists of their approach.
The only time the trains would give a toot on their horns would be if the operator "saw something wrong," Mr. Agro said.
John Boehm, 50, who lives with his family about a half-block from Glendale, welcomed the news.
"It's definitely going to help because I haven't slept more than three to four hours a night since the trains started coming through here," said Mr. Boehm.
At the end of December, the MTA will assess how well motorists observed the flashing headlights and how many near collisions occurred, if any.
If all goes well, the procedure may become permanent, Mr. Agro said.
The light rail system, which opened last April, has enjoyed steadily increasing ridership, he said.
But resident complaints about noise also have increased.
"My wife jumps in her sleep when the thing goes by, and the children sleep with pillows over their heads," said Mr. Boehm.
"My wife sticks toilet tissue in her ear."
About a month ago, the MTA reduced the volume on the bells at each crossing gate, Mr. Agro said.