Spotlight on the San Gabriel Valley: Metrolink Upgrades


Metrolink upgrades: This is the 3rd in a series on San Gabriel Valley transit corridor projects under discussion as contenders for funding from a transportation sales tax measure that could be put on the ballot in November 2016.

Metrolink Board Member and LA City Planning Commissioner Richard Katz told the audience at Move LA’s 7th Annual Transportation Conversation that he believes Metrolink is Southern California’s most undervalued and underutilized transit asset. At Move LA we believe that with just modest investments in improvements – including more frequent headways and lower fares -- the regional rail system could significantly expand ridership and help reduce traffic congestion.

These Metrolink improvements could include:

  • double-tracking in corridors shared with the freight railroads to reduce delays and improve reliability
  • a more customer-friendly presence in stations, to help with ticket sales
  • wi-fi access on trains so Metrolink riders could continue working on long commutes
  • more connections to major activity centers including Union Station in downtown LA and Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County.

There’s increasing interest in a rail connection to Ontario Airport – studies have been done and a planning exercise is about to begin -- and also in linking Ontario Airport to Union Station in downtown LA, especially now that downtown is in the midst of a major renaissance. A connection to Union Station would help entice travelers to Ontario Airport not only from the San Gabriel Valley but also from downtown LA and surrounding neighborhoods, because express service could make Ontario competitive with LAX in terms of time and convenience.

Moreover, it would increase the likelihood that Ontario Airport could convince some of the major Asian air carriers that have invested heavily in A380 jumbo jets to provide service out of Ontario – its runways are capable of serving these jets, which can land at LAX but only if runways are cleared and other air traffic is delayed to accommodate them. And the San Gabriel Valley has a very large Asian population along the east-west corridor between Ontario and downtown LA.

There has also been much conversation about the possibility of extending the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line to Ontario Airport. This will be a topic of conversation at our upcoming “Green Valley” conference with Mike Woo, dean of the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona, this fall.

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