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Metro's New Gold Line Extension Is Bringing Thousands Of New Riders To Public Transit

Pretty. (Photo by Metro via Facebook)
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Metro's new Gold Line Foothill Extension is drawing a higher than expected number of passengers, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Even more importantly, the vast majority of the Foothill Extension's riders are new users of the Metro system, showing that if you build it, they most certainly will come.

Each week, about 32,000 people board the Gold Line from Foothill Extension stations. A four-week Metro survey of new riders revealed that over 70 percent of the riders were new to transit altogether. Two-thirds of riders said they had traded a commute on the 210 freeway for the ride on the rails.

Daily ridership on the Foothill Extension right now is sitting somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000. According to Curbed LA, Metro believes this number will grow to 13,600 by 2035. If ridership continues to grow at the rate it has, Metro expects the Gold Line Extension could reach 65 percent of its predicted initial annual ridership in just two months.

Interestingly, Metro's survey found that many of the new riders were not riding the train all the way in to downtown L.A., but were rather getting off somewhere along the line much closer to where they begin. Fifty-seven percent of those who boarded at a Foothill Extension station got off the train at a station in Pasadena, pointing out that Southern California commutes are far more diverse than slogs from the suburbs to downtown.

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The fact that the Gold Line Extension's numbers are this positive should come as good news for those who argued the Foothill Extension was a misguided attempt to bring mass transit to the low-density San Gabriel Valley.

On the flip side, even 13,600 people isn't a particularly high number given the 210 freeway regularly carries more than 300,000 cars daily across the same stretch of city that the Foothill Extension covers. Metro has also been known to underestimate ridership values in the past too. Both the Expo Line to Culver City and the Orange Line significantly outperformed Metro's initial predictions for ridership.

By the way, Expo to Santa Monica opens just over a month from now on May 20. Get pumped to never have to deal with the 10 again.