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Gold Line Imbroglio

A lot of people are pissed off about the Gold Line and the MTA’s decision to add “express” trains, as Caitlin Liu’s recent article in the L.A. Times so poignantly highlighted. Commuters and bloggers alike have an opinion, so, being the purveyors of brilliance in L.A., we thought we’d add our two cents.

In case you’ve been hiding your car (hence the problem), the Gold Line hasn’t attracted as many riders as planners had envisioned. Given that it takes 34 minutes to take the 14 mile trip from Pasadena to Union Station, we can’t imagine why people still prefer to drive. Who wouldn’t want to add time to their commute? Alas, MTA devised a solution to attract riders: “express” service trains skip 8 of the 13 stations to cut the commute time to a blistering 29 minutes. But wait! The solution had an added bonus: no additional trains for those people who are still waiting at the skipped stops. The result: a lot of pissed off commuters who have to wait even longer for trains.

"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. At the Memorial Park station, as the express train sped by, commuter Diane Otto stood on the platform, looking at her watch and frowning. She said having to wait longer for the next non-express train would cause her to miss her Metrolink connection to San Diego County.

"Now I'll have to wait half an hour for the next [connecting] train," she said, sighing. "I'm really tired today. I just want to go home."

Another commuter, Karen Arakelian, said she was running out of patience.

"Now … I lose time," said Arakelian, an administrative assistant who says she now waits five to 10 minutes longer for her trains. "I'm getting frustrated. If this doesn't work out, I'm going to drive."

As planners, we do have a soft spot in our hearts for transit, so we do see a silver lining in all of this: trains are less crowded, and we can always find a seat after a long day of work.
· Express Adds Little Luster to Gold Line [L.A. Times]