News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 9 to 10 a.m.

The unintentional competition between Metrolink and Metro Rail




A screenshot of the map showing the next phase of the Gold Line connecting Glendora to Montclair.
A screenshot of the map showing the next phase of the Gold Line connecting Glendora to Montclair.
Foothill Gold Line

Listen to story

06:02
Download this story 8.0MB

They are two sides of the same coin of Los Angeles public transportation.

The locomotives of Metrolink, which connect Union Station in Los Angeles to Orange and Riverside County:

Metrolink trains like this one at Los Angeles Union Station should be using a new safety system known as positive train control by the end of 2015, officials say.
Metrolink trains like this one at Los Angeles Union Station should be using a new safety system known as positive train control by the end of 2015, officials say.
File photo by Sharon McNary/KPCC

And the light trains of Metro Rail, which run through the urban areas in and around downtown L.A.:

File: A Gold Line train car at Metro's Monrovia rail yard.
File: A Gold Line train car at Metro's Monrovia rail yard.
L.A. Metro

 

Metro Rail will soon begin its latest project: An expansion for the Gold Line from its current endpoint at Azusa Pacific University to Montclair. 

The problem is that those planned Metro stops are close to existing Metrolink stops.  This overlapping of the two systems has happened before. And it's caused Metrolink ridership to drop as people switched over use Metro instead.

"Metro Rail is going to be cheaper; it's going to have more frequent service. So that's the main driver for someone wanting to Metro Rail over Metrolink," expert Ethan Elkind told Take Two's A Martinez. Elkind is the author of Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the future of City.

While they are similar, Elkind says that LA's two rail services are meant to serve two different types of commutes.

"Metrolink is really designed as a commuter system. It runs during those peak commute hours; It doesn’t have frequent service; it’s a little more expensive. Metro Rail … is really meant for high-density areas; for frequent travel among some areas with high-rise type buildings or at least moderate density where you have a lot of jobs and housing and people needing to get around."

To hear the full conversation, click the blue player above.