Will Metrolink Begin Service to San Diego?
Service changes on the LOSSAN corridor are apparently afoot. Dana Gabbard at Streetsblog LA has the scoop on the possibility that Metrolink is looking at service to San Diego – a corridor that is already served by the Pacific Surfliners.
According to Gabbard:
The report presented at the Oct. 17th Planning and programming Committee contains a fascinating tidbit on page 2: “Staff is working closely with Metrolink on two new initiatives that would increase Metrolink service. The first is the introduction of additional service, using Metrolink equipment, which would go from Los Angeles Union Station beyond Oceanside to San Diego. The second is to increase peak hour service on the 91 line, which travels from Riverside to Los Angeles, via Fullerton.”…
The Power Point (not posted online) indicates that for weekdays, they are looking at a commuter schedule starting mornings in downtown San Diego while making all stops to Los Angeles; in addition, they’ll be doing the reverse for the afternoon commute along with southbound service from Fullerton to San Diego in the morning and returning in the evening.
Weekend service would start in San Bernardino on the IEOC line to San Diego making all stops (reverse service included) along with service starting in Los Angeles on the Orange County line to San Diego making all stops (reverse service included) .
Metrolink would operate service to/from Oceanside Transit Center. North County Transit District (NCTD) would operate the Metrolink train south of Oceanside. All conductors, crew and engineers would be under the control of NCTD south of Oceanside. Trains would be required to double spot for disabled passengers south of Oceanside until permanent ramps are built to accommodate Metrolink trains.
I think it’s an interesting concept and potentially a very good one. The LA-SD rail corridor is one of the busiest in the country and given that there’s really only one freeway that serves it, Interstate 5, a route that is often jammed with traffic, improved rail service from Southern California cities to San Diego County cities makes a ton of sense.
The devil’s in the details, obviously. How would this service interact with the Pacific Surfliners? According to Gabbard, that’s still unclear, as the Metrolink service expansion is still in the conceptual stages.
I could see a situation where the Surfliners act as more of an express service, connecting LA to SD with limited stops in between, and Metrolink providing local service to each station. During the day and on the weekends you’d still want a train that provides local service, and that might be Metrolink if the goal is to have the Surfliners be branded as an all-express service.
Those are just some of the options. As a new LOSSAN joint powers authority is set up, one that will potentially be operated by Metro, it will become more important than ever to coordinate Surfliner and Metrolink services so that they are complementary and not duplicative.
Passenger rail in Southern California is becoming not only popular, it’s becoming an indispensable part of transportation in the region. Expanding Metrolink service is a good idea, as long as it’s well integrated with other services on the LOSSAN corridor.