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Metro Calls Expo Trips to USC Game a Success

While official numbers are not yet in, Metro says the new Expo Line, including the station at Culver City, may well have boosted attendees at Saturday's first USC home football game since 1953.

Metro officials claimed success for Saturday’s first light rail service to a USC home football game since Sept. 26, 1953, although it was unclear how many people took the Expo Line to see the Trojans' 49-10 victory over Hawaii.

Ridership on the Expo Line was approximately 13,000 people, according to figures released by Metro. It was not known how many of those riders were going to the game.

The ridership also likely received some boost from the FYF Fest at the Los Angeles State Historic Park between Chinatown and Elysian Park.

The average Saturday ridership in July, the most recent month where figures are available, was about 12,000, Anna Chen of Metro said.

Metro CEO Art Leahy said before the game he would be happy if 4,000 to 5,000 fans took the Expo Line to the game.

"Great start for new L.A.-Trojan-Metro tradition,'' Leahy told City News Service before figures were announced.

Chen said, "Part of the success was crowd control around [Expo Line stations] to keep everyone safe and allowing for smooth service. There were no major service delays on any rail line, which was big with FYF Fest happening on the same day."

Traffic was closed on Exposition Boulevard between Figueroa Street and Vermont Avenue following the game. The pedestrian crossing flowed better and train service was not impacted, Chen said. Exposition Boulevard was reopened to traffic after 9 p.m.

The sold-out season-opening victory over Hawaii before a crowd announced at 93,607 was USC's first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since the Expo Line, which has two stations near the stadium, began service on April 28.

There were "no major operational glitches,'' according to Marc Littman, Metro's deputy executive officer for public relations. Littman said he "heard positive comments from many first-time transit riders. Crowd control crossing tracks at Exposition [Boulevard] went exceedingly well,'' Littman said.

Roommates Jenny Wapner and Rad Goel carpooled from their home in Santa Monica to board a train at the , the westernmost stop on the 8.6-mile Expo Line which runs to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Wapner, a 28-year-old scholarship manager for an international education program, said she decided to take the train because "it's much more convenient'' and plans to take the train to other games because "it saves on time.''

Goel called taking a train relaxing and "you don't have to worry about traffic.''

Jan Heining called taking Metro Rail to the game "an adventure.''

She and her husband Will took the Gold Line from the South Pasadena Station to Union Station, where they boarded a Red Line train to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station for the Expo Line.

"There was a lot more walking than I expected,'' Jan Heining said. On one train on the way to the stadium, she said there were some children under 2 years old she called "out of control'' as their parents were talking on their cellphones instead of minding their children.

Jan Heining said she and her has a season parking pass and plans to drive to games for the rest of the season because going by Metro Rail involves "too many trains.''

Will Heining said riding the Expo Line "was more like riding a bus than a train'' because of its stops at traffic lights on the portion of the line south of downtown Los Angeles where it does not have its own right-of-way.

"I was surprised by that,'' said Heining, who said he regularly rides the Gold and Red lines to his job operating the Christian Science Reading Room on Bunker Hill.

Will Heining praised Metro officials for "doing a great job'' of "funneling passengers into a single line'' as they boarded trains.

Three-car trains ran every six minutes on all Metro Rail lines beginning three hours before the game. What Metro dubbed as enhanced service continued after the game ended, Leahy said.

Similar increased service will also be provided for this season's five other Trojan home football games. Event guides wearing cardinal T-shirts with gold lettering and cardinal caps, USC's colors, were at Metro Rail hub departure points in Culver City, Long Beach, North Hollywood and Pasadena to assist passengers, many of whom were riding on the Metro Rail system for the first time.

Light rail service to USC football games had been available on the Santa Monica Air Line, which discontinued passenger service on Sept. 30, 1953, four days after the Trojans defeated Minnesota, 17-7.

The Expo Line reuses the right-of-way of the Santa Monica Air Line along Exposition Boulevard.

- Steven Herbert

 

Michael Loox September 04, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Riding the Expo line to the USC game was a thing of beauty. No traffic, clean trains and a brief tour of West La from Culver City to game! Bravo, cannot wait for Santa Monica stop. No more car if the train can do! Longer life expectancy with less stress of driving with the LA knuckleheads
Zstern September 04, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Rode to and from the game. It was great and the train was filled with USC fans. I expect ridership to continue to grow and grow.
Paul Rich September 04, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Funny. I was thinking of doing that myself for the USC ASU game. About how long did it take and approx. how many stops? How far to the stadium from the USC drop off point and what is the name of the exit?
Paul Rich September 04, 2012 at 06:01 PM
From Culver City that is.
Michael Loox September 04, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Culver City was 4 or 5 stops to game depending if you want off on Western/Expo or behind Science Center. Ride was 18-20 minutes each way, no traffic, no parking and $3.00 round trip= what can you get for $3 anymore!

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