Metrolink may put brakes on ‘midnight’ train

Metrolink is looking at cutting some trains from its schedule as an alternative to a second fare increase, which riders are understandably against. A decision is expected at Friday’s board meeting, but a series of cuts was apparently outlined at the Nov. 13 meeting. Here’s a PDF of all of them. (Props to reader Hank Fung for forwarding me the link.)

You’ll have to compare the train numbers to the Metrolink schedule to figure out which trains may be cut. But here’s a shorthand version.

On the heavily used San Bernardino Line, two trains would be cut weekdays and two on Sundays. Four would be cut on Saturdays, including — sob! — the 11:30 p.m. train, the last one on the line and one that allows some of us to take the train to and from evening events in L.A. Ridership of that late train, which was launched in 2006, has always been light.

(You may recall that the initial 11:15 departure from Union Station eastward was changed to 11:30 after a column by yours truly about making a mad dash for the train after a play at the Ahmanson.)

In a welcome softening of the blow, the penultimate train, which leaves L.A. to head east at 9 p.m., will depart at 10 p.m. instead. Not a bad compromise.

Saturday trains would then leave Union Station at 3:25, 5:45 and 10 p.m.

As usual with the 909, progress comes as two steps forward, one step back.

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  • Shirley Wofford

    Hi David,

    This is sad; it does not come as a shock. So much progress had been achieved with the public transportation options. This is, indeed, taking steps backward, after so many steps forward by Metrolink.

    I did not use the 11:30 p.m., Sat. train often, but did so when there was a show in LA I could not see at another time, i.e., the CA Plaza Sat. night shows. Also used it a couple times to see Sat. night Dodger games — the Dodgers management had already made that difficult, by discontinuing the shuttle transportation from Union Station to Dodger Stadium.

    The spacing of the proposed Saturday departure times will not only prevent one from attending Saturday night shows at the Music Center, but it will also make it very difficult to attend a Saturday afternoon matinee. One would have to make a mad dash for the Red Line Stop after the show, and it would be next to impossible to get to Union Station and up the tunnel to the tracks by 5:45 p.m. There would also be no dinner in LA after the show. Who would then want to wait until 10 p.m. to depart? Big, big bummer!

    A couple times before the 11:30 train came online, I had been in LA late and had to use the 480 Foothill Transit. Standing at a lonely, dark stop waiting for that is not much fun either. It gets one here, but takes twice as long as the train. The existence of that late Saturday night Metrolink schedule gave me a feeling of assurance that I would never have to use the 480 again.

    If these proposed schedule changes do occur, I hope they will put any money saved towards the automatic braking system to prevent devastating crashes. Oh David, this is all going to take some settle-down thinking time for me.

    [I knew you’d come through on a Metrolink topic, Shirley. I share your disappointment regarding Music Center shows (even the 11:30 train was barely late enough for those) and the large gap between the planned 5:45 and 10 trains. One question: Have you ever tried the Silver Streak bus? There’s still the “lonely, dark stop” issue, but it can get you from downtown to Montclair almost as fast as the train. I prefer the train but may be relying more on the bus in the future. — DA]

  • shirley wofford

    David, I have not tried that bus, but if there were something in LA I just had to see, I would not be averse to trying it.

  • David

    Personally I think the Metrolink is too expensive to be an option for “weekend” commuters. By weekend commuters I mean people who live in the suburbs and will take the train/public transportation to LA.

    I am hoping for the Gold Line Foothill extension to Azusa to be open in 2013. Then to San Dimas by 2020, if not sooner.

    In other news about Metrorail. There are plans to make a trip from Long Beach to Pasadena a no transfer trip!!! Also a trip from East LA to Culver City, once the Expo line opens, to be a no transfer trip. This would replace the Gold Line since it is much faster to go on a bus, that goes north-south, than goes west then heads east.

    In regards to Dodger Stadium, I’m hoping a new stadium opens in downtown LA. One that will be close to public transportation. First I’m hoping for a new owner.

    [People in general don’t seem to have embraced Metrolink, which I would guess is due to our SoCal allergy to public transit, its inconvenience and the price. For me, $11 for a round-trip weekend ride may be pushing it, but it isn’t too high, especially with free transfers once in L.A. If the free-transfer policy ends next summer as contemplated, that won’t help our cost/benefit calculation. The no-transfer deal you mention involves building a “downtown connector” subway, so that’s years away. A downtown Dodger Stadium makes sense for urban planning and transportation reasons, but that’s even more years away! — DA]

  • Bob House

    So I guess this means that, when LA proves too much for the man, you wont be goin back to a simpler place and time on that midnight train to Claremont.

    [Bob, you’re a pip. — DA]