Metrolink sees surge of commuters in wake of 60 Freeway shutdown

Grant Slater/KPCC

A worker inspects the burned Paramount Boulevard bridge across the 60 Freeway. Parts of the bridge will be demolished in the wake of the fire.

The City of Industry Metrolink station saw a busy Friday morning as passengers who would normally be navigating the 60 Freeway flocked to commuter rail. A tanker fire has shut down portions of the 60 after this week’s tanker fire.

Decked out in a green sweater with Christmas trees on the front, Patricia Qavi sat on the Friday morning metro and sang the song she was eager to see kids perform at her destination, the Downtown Value School.

“Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus... donde esta Santa Claus this Christmas Eve?”

In order to see her daughter, a first-grade teacher, Qavi bought a Metrolink ticket for the first time.

“Actually I pushed the wrong buttons," she admitted. "But the security guard helped me out.”

City of Industry security guard Ramon Arroyo helped acquaint passengers with the ticket machine all morning. He guessed that at least a hundred additional commuters made their way into downtown LA via Metrolink.

"The line’s out here in the street," said Arroyo. "Then you know it’s a lot of people taking the train."

Unlike Patricia Qavi, who’d planned a leisurely day with elementary school students, most of these commuters were headed to their jobs.

IT manager Aaron Betts of Hacienda Heights left his car in downtown L.A. yesterday after work to dodge a traffic snarl compounded by the wind and rain. Betts’ wife dropped him off at Metrolink for the hour-long trip to Union Station.

“Had I driven, my plan was to take the 605 all the way down to the 5 and then take the 5 all the way into downtown...there’s no way I was getting back on the freeway.”

His return plan: he’ll drive his car from L.A. back to Hacienda Heights. He wasn’t looking forward to that trip. It could take up to a couple of hours.

Metrolink officials say L.A.-bound commuters’ best runs around traffic congestion will be the San Bernardino line, the Riverside line and the 91 line that travels between downtown Riverside and LA Union Station.

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