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Metrolink Kicks Up Orange County Service

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One day after LAist reports problems on Metrolink's Lancaster line serving mostly north Los Angeles County, the LA Times writes on new service in Orange County:

By 2009, the goal is to have commuter trains running every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight on weekdays, between Fullerton and Laguna Niguel -- the bookends of Orange County. Seven locomotives and 59 more passenger cars have been ordered, a new station in Buena Park opens Tuesday, new track has been laid and parking lot improvements are scheduled for Fullerton, Orange, Tustin, Irvine and Laguna Niguel.

For a county that has habitually invested its transportation dollars in freeways and road improvements, the Metrolink expansion marks a new course.

[snip]

Freeway projects will remain [Orange County] transit agency's main focus. A voter-approved county initiative to raise $12 billion for transportation through 2041 calls for 43% of the tax money to be spent improving freeways, 32% on streets and 25% on public transit, including commuter rail, such as Metrolink, and buses.

High gas prices and a congested Riverside Freeway may have spurred a 14% Metrolink ridership surge from the previous year on the Inland Empire-Orange County Line, transit agency officials said. Passengers on the county's three Metrolink lines took 3.8 million trips last year.

Overall, Metrolink passengers took 10.5 million trips during the same period in Southern California.

30-minute headways is definitely a perk, but will OC residents find that enough of one to embrace Metrolink even more than they have?
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