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Metrolink Line Connects With Ventura Riders

Commuters can catch weekday morning runs to L.A. at new Montalvo station, as service is extended west of Oxnard starting Monday.

November 10, 2002|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Beginning Monday, commuters in Ventura can catch a train to Los Angeles each weekday morning as Metrolink service extends west of Oxnard to a new $6-million station in Montalvo near Johnson Drive.

The service, coupled with a new Metrolink and Amtrak ticket program out of Oxnard, greatly expands the number of trains available to west county commuters trying to bypass increasing traffic jams on freeways.

Another station in downtown Ventura is also planned, officials said.

For now, with two Metrolink trips early each morning, Ventura Mayor Ray Di Guilio said local commuters will no longer be forced to drive to the Oxnard Transportation Center to catch trains.

"This new station makes it very convenient because those commuters will no longer have to fight the traffic at the Santa Clara River bridge project," he said.

The two Metrolink trains will depart each weekday morning from the new outdoor platform station on Ventura Boulevard. The first train leaves Montalvo at 5:22 a.m. and arrives at Los Angeles Union Station at 7:12. The second train departs at 6 a.m. and reaches L.A. at 7:50. Return trains to Montalvo leave Union Station at 4:26 p.m. and 5:10 p.m. and arrive at 6:15 p.m. and 6:58, respectively.

"I wish I could use it every day," said Stan Ames, a painting contractor who lives around the corner from the new station in the small unincorporated community of Montalvo, which is surrounded by Ventura.

Ames, who attended the station's opening ceremony Friday, drives his truck each day to jobs in Santa Barbara County. But he said he now hopes to board a train at least once a month to dine and shop in Los Angeles.

Mary Travis of the Ventura County Transportation Commission said she expects 50 to 60 riders to use the new station, which is between Johnson Drive and Victoria Avenue, just north of the Ventura Freeway.

Before the rail station was built, the site had been used to store empty trains overnight. The yearlong construction project added 60 parking spaces and new landscaping.

Coinciding with the new station is the recent announcement of the "Rail2Rail" program between Metrolink and Amtrak. Holders of a Metrolink monthly pass, which costs $259, can now also ride Amtrak trains any day of the week.

Four southbound Amtrak trains leave the Seaside Park platform in downtown Ventura seven days a week: at 7:26 a.m., 9:58 a.m., 2:40 p.m. and 7:42 p.m. The trip to downtown Los Angeles takes about two hours each way. Return trains leave Los Angeles at 2:55 p.m. and 7 p.m.

On weekends, an extra train leaves Ventura at 12:18 p.m.

Travel with the pass is allowed as far south as Oceanside in northern San Diego County. Amtrak ticket holders can also use Metrolink for free.

Passengers on the Amtrak trains must begin their trips at the Oxnard station, because the new Ventura station isn't served by Amtrak.

About 1,000 people board a Metrolink train each day at Ventura County's five stations, Travis said. More than 30,000 people ride Metrolink trains each day in Southern California.

Although the new station is just opening, officials are planning for a larger, more permanent station in Ventura. The exact location hasn't been determined but Seaside Park at the county fairgrounds or a nearby industrial area off Front Street -- home of the city's original train station -- are being discussed.

Di Guilio said the permanent station would be near thousands of new dwellings planned for the downtown area, allowing commuters to walk to a train station.

"We made a commitment to study" a new site, said Ginger Gherardi, executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission. "But it will be awhile because there's no money for it yet."

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