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LA's Gold Line Opens Saturday, July 26th

Light Rail Progress • July 2003

The Los Angeles region's long-awaited Gold Line light rail transit (LRT) service will open this Saturday, 26 July 2003, linking Pasadena to Los Angeles. And a huge celebration is planned for the launch.

As we have indicated in our article Los Angeles Heads Toward Summer (2003) Opening of New Gold Line, the latest extension to LA's rail system covers 13.7 miles and provides rail links through downtown LA's Union Station to existing rail transit services to Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley. This will bring the county's LRT network up to a total of 73 miles. it also connects to LA area's Metrolink regional "heavy" rail system, which stretches for 400 miles through six counties.

LA Gold Line LRTWith the opening of the Gold Line, passengers will be able to hop on trains to the Old Pasadena shopping and dining district, downtown LA's Staples Center, Hollywood Boulevard, Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, and other key destinations. "This will really help take Los Angeles from a disjointed route of buses and rail lines to an actual system" said Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

However, transit supporters are warned to beware of implausible expectations of the bona fide impact of this or any other new rail or quality-transit facility. For example, an Associated Press report on the Gold Line opening raises "the promise of easing gridlock on some of the region's most congested freeways ...."
[Associated Press 24 July 2003]

As we also explain in our article Denver Data Show Light Rail's Real impact on Mobility Congestion,

LRT critics and opponents consistently try to pose "reduction" of roadway traffic as a basic measuring stick for the "success" of LRT - a measure it will inevitably fail to meet. In reality, by raising (unachievable) expectations of significant roadway congestion reduction from LRT and other major transit projects, transit and LRT opponents exploit a common fallacy and misconception: That any single transportation facility, roadway or transit, can ever truly "reduce" congestion. It is almost universally recognized, even among highway planners, and throughout the transportation planning profession, that roadway traffic congestion is a fundamental fact of life - basically, it continues to grow with population expansion and the proliferation of motor vehicles.
It is either an error or a deception to try to assess congestion relief by the measure of whether or not existing congestion simply evaporates. Congestion never just "evaporates". ... What LRT does is to open up, in effect, a new "traffic artery" along which people can move past the existing congestion. Moreover, unlike the capacity-increasing effects of a freeway, the result with LRT is that all those cars are off the road, out of the traffic stream, and out of the competition for scarce parking spaces. Perhaps the realistic goal of major transit improvements like LRT, therefore, is to relieve mobility congestion, and not necessarily traffic congestion.

Starting Saturday (July 26th), thousands of people are expected to take free rides on the 26 white and orange trains during opening celebrations this weekend. During regular service, MTA officials estimate, the Gold Line will carry about 30,000 people a day, eliminating 2.6 million auto trips a year.

Further information on the Gold Line opening is provided in the news article below.,1413,206%7E22097%7E152 5467,00.html

Pasadena Star News
Monday, July 21, 2003

MTA plans a major party for opening of Gold Line

By Mary Bender, Staff Writer

PASADENA – Come for the free train rides but stay for the entertainment, food vendors and community festivals, local officials say as they prepare for thousands of visitors during the Gold Line's opening weekend.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority predicts that 700,000 people will ride the Los Angeles-to-Pasadena light rail system Saturday and Sunday, when the normal $1.35 one-way fare will be waived as the agency's public goodwill gesture.

LA Gold Line LRTPassengers ogle Gold Line train at South Pasadena station during testing.
[Photo: Darrell Clarke]

Of that total, Pasadena officials estimate that 160,000 people will come to the city, which has six Gold Line stations.

Festivities at Gold Line stations up and down the route will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Actors in gold miner attire will greet riders at the Lake Avenue and Allen Avenue stations, to be decorated in a Gold Rush theme.

"These stations are less about the MTA. They belong to the neighborhood,' said Jonathon Glus, the city's executive director of the arts. "We wanted people to feel engaged, welcome and excited.'

Pasadena city councilmen will be stationed at some Gold Line depots to greet riders.

The city's biggest celebrations will take place at the Sierra Madre Villa and Memorial Park stations the former in the multilevel garage next to the Foothill (210) Freeway, and the latter in the Old Pasadena park.

Vendors and local organizations will have food and displays at about 30 booths in Memorial Park. Armory Center for the Arts will offer family-related activities, and entertainers will perform from the newly restored Levitt Pavilion bandshell in the park, Glus said.

On the Gold Line's inaugural weekend, Memorial Park "is really 'festival central' for Pasadena,' Glus said.

It also will be the first time the public will be able to use a new pedestrian shortcut to other parts of Old Pasadena from the Memorial Park Station. The area has long been fenced off, Glus said.

A horse-drawn trolley, a vintage calliope and a slew of classic cars will set an old- fashioned tone for South Pasadena's celebration at its lone Gold Line depot, Mission Station.

A swing band, a Dixieland combo and a surf band will serenade arriving and departing passengers at the train stop, on Meridian Avenue and Mission Street, said Janet Ervin, a city transportation commissioner.

People in period costumes from which era hasn't been decided will lend a retro atmosphere to the street festival. Attractions for children will include face painters, balloon animal sculptors and pony rides, the latter provided by South Pasadena Stables.

A horse-drawn trolley will give rides between Fair Oaks Avenue and the train station, Ervin said. Antique cars from the 1920s to the 1950s will be on display next to the train station.

Among the exhibitors at the festival will be the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Disney Hall and the Electric Railway Historical Association, Ervin said. The Meridian iron Works Museum, next to the train station, also will be open to visitors.

On Sunday afternoon, an old Pacific Electric Red Car converted to gasoline power will shuttle people to Garfield Park, site of a 5 p.m. concert, Ervin said.

Mary Bender can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4456, or by e-mail at

Updated 2003/07/25

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