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Gold Line Extension is More Popular Than Metro Expected

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The new Foothill Extension is attracting tons of new public transit users

A survey of riders on the new Gold Line Foothill Extension shows that more commuters are making use of the expanded route than Metro had expected. As reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 4,000 to 5,000 riders are boarding the train at the new stations every weekday, with 3,800 to 4,000 riders on weekends. With around 32,000 riders per week, the Foothill Extension is well on its way to reaching ridership levels Metro hadn't expected for years. "We knew we would have a lot of new riders," Metro CEO Phil Washington told the Valley Tribune, "but we didn’t think we would have that many."

Even more encouraging is the fact that the train seems to be converting a fair amount of drivers to the mass transit lifestyle. Of all riders surveyed, more than 70 percent said that they were new users of the Metro system and 66 percent said they had given up commuting by car. This is likely welcome news for Metro. The Foothill Extension has been under a fair amount of pressure to succeed after it was prioritized over an array of other rail projects serving areas of far greater density.

Though much of the appeal of the Foothill Extension was in its ability to bring commuters from the far reaches of the San Gabriel Valley into Downtown Los Angeles, most of the new riders are in fact getting off long before the train stops at Union Station. The poll shows that well over 50 percent of riders boarding at the six new stations are getting off in Pasadena. Well over half of the 110,000 people who work in the relatively upscale city travel from out of town, and it appears the train is serving many of those commuters.

The fact that the Foothill Extension is proving to be more popular than expected bodes well for Metro's campaign to get voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase come November. That money would be used to speed up projects currently in the works and to pay for future construction--including even further eastward expansion of the Gold Line