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Gold Line Extension Challenges: Low Ridership, Slow Moving

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Photo: current events/LAist Featured Photos

Photo: current events/LAist Featured Photos
The Gold Line may have been slammed with people for Sunday's grand opening, but reality sets in this week. One big question is the daily ridership, which is expected to be a low 13,000 riders each day between East LA and Union Station, says the LA Times. However, that's not to say it's one piece of the larger puzzle--once the Regional Connector is built, the usefulness of all downtown-bound light rail routes should increase exceptionally. The connector would enable riders to go straight from East L.A. to Culver City or from Long Beach to Pasadena, all in one ride. The latter trip currently takes three boardings: Blue Line, Red Line then Gold Line.

Add to that the 6-mile extension's end-to-end time of 24 minutes. For example, it takes about four minutes to travel a half mile between Union Station and the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. Eric Richardson at blogdowntown says that it should speed up soon, though.

"That speed is determined by signals running through the tracks, and operators are unable to exceed what the car picks up," explains Richardson. "That same stretch has a second signal telling the cars that they can go 15mph, but it is being ignored right now because only half the cars operating on the line can see it."

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If approved, a $400,000 contract with GE should fix that problem, speeding up the trains between those two points to under three minutes.