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Metro to Cut Rail Hours

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2005, at 09:26AM

The LA Times today has an article talking about Metro's plans to cut the last few hours off of rail. Cuts would be made to late night service on the Gold, Green and Wilshire/Western Red Lines. There are several different interesting aspects to the debate, and I think this quote is a good way to get started (and tie all this into Downtown):

Nancy Brakensiek, who lives downtown and uses the subways and light rails frequently, said the cutbacks would make her more likely to use a car instead.

"In a city that's trying to say that they are a 24-hour town, where they're trying to say you can be out and about, to cut service for late night is foolish," Brakensiek said.

But this brings up an important point: the biggest problem with Metro's late night rail hours has been that there aren't enough of them. I'll explain more after the jump.

Update (Friday): You can find discussion of the cuts in this thread on the Transit Coalition forums.

Consider the Gold Line, which operates from Pasadena to Union Station and currently makes its last southbound run after 1:30am. There's a lot to do up in Pasadena, so it would be great to be able to take the train up there, not have to worry about parking, not have to worry about being able to drive home, etc. The problem, though, is that when you get off a train at 2am at Union Station there is nothing there for you.

The Red Line, which forms the backbone of the rail system, connecting Union Station and the Gold Line to 7th/Metro, the Blue Line, and beyond, currently pulls its last train out of Union Station at 12:27am. And though Union Station may technically be Downtown, the reality is that it's at least a mile from where Downtown's new dense population is moving in. The only night-time bus service from Union Station to the Historic Core operates approximately hourly and picks you up at a corner nearby, not at the station.

I've done my share of riding late night rail. I love using the Red Line to get back from the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. I've ridden the Blue Line down to Long Beach for a late dinner several times. I've even used the Gold Line in the middle of the night to go to Pasadena to get a Flexcar. If late night rail service is cut, most of those become harder for me to do. That's not the direction we need to be heading.

I've ridden on packed trains late into the night. We need to be encouraging those people, not leaving them out to dry. We need rail hours to stay at their current baselines, but then we also need an expansion in Red Line hours. The subway should be the last part of the rail network to end for the night, not the first.

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