Just in time: Metrolink brings back service for 24 trains, adds 2 new trains

For the first time since the pandemic began, Metrolink has brought operations back to 24 trains and added two new trains to its daily schedule.

The extended service started on Monday. It comes as more workers across the Southland are leaving their kitchen tables and home offices and returning to the workplace – and petrol prices have soared to record highs.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in California was $5.85 Monday, up from $3.91 this time last year, according to the American Automobile Assn.

Metrolink’s lines span Ventura, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties and carried around 40,000 riders daily prior to the pandemic.

But in March 2020, health mandates brought the region’s daily commute to a halt as much was unknown about COVID-19. At that time, Metrolink’s daily ridership all but disappeared, dropping by 90% to nearly 4,000 daily ridership, according to the commuter rail system.

From April 2020 to February 2021, those who continued to travel by rail were essential workers, according to field studies compiled by Metrolink. Recently, ridership rose again to about 30% of pre-pandemic levels. Driver numbers over the weekend have fared much better, returning to 70% of their previous performance.

Passengers walk onto a train platform after boarding the Metrolink train at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on Monday.

Passengers arrive at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles by Metrolink train. Metrolink will resume service on 24 of the busiest lines.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“We’ve seen ridership recover since people have returned to offices,” said Darren Kettle, Metrolink’s chief executive. “And traffic has returned with a vengeance.”

Metrolink hopes that with the restoration of the 24 lines and the addition of two new trains The system can bring even more drivers back.

In a statement announcing the service changes, Kettle said, “As Metrolink CEO, I am delighted that we are able to restore our service to near pre-pandemic levels to allow our drivers to get to work, visit friends and Family and can have fun – cheaper and without traffic and parking problems.

“As a Metrolink rider, I’m excited to see my two favorite Ventura County Line trains returning to service, giving me more flexibility to get to and from work,” he continued. “And I know from talking to other Metrolink drivers that they too are looking forward to the flexibility our new schedule will bring to their lives.”

A passenger prepares to board a Metrolink train at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles Monday.

Metrolink will also add two new trains as it prepares to serve commuters returning to downtown offices for work.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

the New updates include:

  • Riverside Line: Four additional trains offer more flexibility for weekday travel.
  • San Bernardino Line: Six additional trains, including later evening trains, plus new Sunday service.
  • Ventura County Line: Six additional Metrolink trains, including morning and evening trains on weekdays, plus four Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains now available to all Metrolink ticket holders, including Saturdays and Sundays.
  • 91/Perris Valley Line: Two additional trains with midday service to Los Angeles and a morning return to Riverside County.
  • Antelope Valley Line: Six additional trains and schedule updates provide more flexibility for weekday travel.
  • Orange County Line: Two additional trains provide more morning service on weekdays.

Kettle told the Times the agency is rethinking its commuter rail model and looking at different tariff structures for workers who only travel a few days a week.

“We just can’t count on the commuter model anymore,” he said. “We must try to expand into leisure and entertainment and discretionary travel.”

Face masks are still required on all Metrolink trains, platforms and stations. Depending on the distance traveled, ticket prices range from $0.50 to $26.50, with weekly and monthly passes also available.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-04-04/just-in-time-metrolink-brings-back-train-service-for-24-lines-adds-2-new-trains Just in time: Metrolink brings back service for 24 trains, adds 2 new trains

Dais Johnston

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