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Connecting the Dots on Our Light-Rail System

March 13, 2004

Re "Gold Line So Far Has Few Takers," March 8: Today's Gold Line ridership numbers are stronger than the opening months of any other L.A. County light-rail line. Watching the 20-mile Green Line grow from 14,000 boardings to 32,000 and the 22-mile Blue Line from 18,000 to an amazing 75,000, we know that 15,000 boardings in the winter after a long strike and a fare increase is a hearty number for a route that is only 13 miles long and a few months old. Your "premature" headline fails to note the Gold Line's extraordinarily high ratio of weekend riders and ignores that that ridership is decidedly within the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's forecast range. The MTA never predicted 38,000 boardings in its first year. That number was used by Pasadena construction officials using forecasts that assumed a downtown light-rail connector to the Blue Line.

We should not forget that the Pasadena and Long Beach lines were originally meant to be one single line that traveled through downtown. If the short downtown connector was built, it could also be used to connect the future East Los Angeles and Westside Exposition lines. This would eliminate transfers, increase mobility and ridership and transform L.A.'s rail lines from a series of fragments to a cohesive whole.

Roger Christensen

Sherman Oaks

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Last weekend I took the Blue Line from my home in Long Beach to the Red Line and then the Gold Line to the end in Pasadena and back again. It was an interesting day trip, but I would never commute this way. The reason is that the trip took forever!

The light-rail line is a great way to travel for people who have no car. However, if the plan is to get commuters off the freeway, the alternative is not simply public transit but rapid transit. Each line should have two tracks, one for the local stops and an express line that stops at every 10th station. It is the express trains that make the New York City subway so successful. As the freeway conditions continue to deteriorate, we must concentrate on rapid transit, not simply public transportation.

Paul G. Johnson

Long Beach

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Ridership on the Gold Line will grow tremendously over time, even if only because of population growth. Investment in rail is an investment in the future. Los Angeles is not some isolated mid-sized city like Portland, Ore., or Omaha, where rail service is a debatable luxury. Los Angeles, if you haven't noticed, is one of the world's major metropolises. Transit options are vital to a functioning city its size.

Tom Rubin and other rail naysayers may complain that the Gold Line fails because it goes only as far as Union Station and does not continue into downtown. But between the Red Line trains that leave Union Station every five minutes and the 25-cent DASH buses, access to most downtown destinations is easy and inexpensive.

Yes, it would be very nice to have more rail service through downtown -- or to have the Red Line continue farther west on Wilshire Boulevard or have the Green Line actually connect to LAX. The wish list is endless. The MTA rail system is far from perfect, but any rail is better than none at all.

Matt Gill

Los Feliz

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