Two years after the Gold Line began running, transportation officials are still struggling to fill it with riders. So, recently they announced with great fanfare that they would launch a rush-hour express service.
The express trains, they said, would stop at just five of the 13 stations, shaving five minutes off the usual 34-minute, 14-mile trip. What they didn't say was that the new service, designed to woo new riders, would come at the expense of the old service and existing riders.
Instead of running additional trains, officials simply started having some of the regular trains skip stops, which left Gold Line regulars at the eight skipped stations waiting longer – and fuming.
"The express just goes right past you as we're all standing here!" exclaimed Maureen Casamiquela on a recent afternoon as a gleaming train whooshed through Memorial Park station in Pasadena without stopping for the dozens of passengers waiting.
On its opening day, nearly 80,000 curious folks climbed aboard for free rides on the route from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. Now the $900-million system carries just 16,300 riders a day, fewer than half of what planners had envisioned. More than two dozen Metro bus lines attract more daily riders than it does.
Interesting how the article contrasts the Gold Line with other "successful" lines:
In contrast, the Blue and Green light rail lines – both of which have more than twice the Gold Line's monthly ridership – saw patronage grow by 12.3% and 19.1%, respectively, over the last two years.
For why percentage increases don't tell the whole story, go here
See also this editorial
For past news on the Gold Line, go here
For smiling faces of politicians at a ground breaking ceremony celebrating an extension of the Gold Line, go here