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Dodgers to again offer public transit to games

June 22, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles have reached tentative agreement to offer public transit to every Dodgers home game for the first time in 14 years.

If the City Council approves the plan, shuttle service from Union Station to Dodger Stadium would begin after the All-Star break next month and extend through the end of the season.

"I'm thrilled," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said. "It's mandatory we provide fans with an alternative means of access to Dodger Stadium, particularly when we have such high gas prices."

Under the plan, the city will cover the estimated $70,000 cost of the program through surplus funds in the transportation department, with the Dodgers responsible for marketing. City Council President Eric Garcetti said he expected fans would pay a nominal fee to ride the shuttle.

"It'll be a lot less than parking at Dodger Stadium," Garcetti said. "Save your money for Dodger Dogs."

The shuttles would run from Union Station, with two stops along Sunset Boulevard, enabling fans to connect from Amtrak, Metrolink, the downtown DASH shuttle and several city bus lines. The estimated ride time from Union Station would be 16 to 19 minutes, according to city documents.

A city bus line ran directly into Dodger Stadium from 1962 to '94, but the line was halted amid budget constraints and declining ridership. The Dodgers paid for a Friday night shuttle from Union Station to Dodger Stadium in 2004, then discontinued the service after it attracted roughly 400 fans a game.

Garcetti said a council committee was expected to approve the plan this week, with approval from the full council expected to follow. The plan would authorize a pilot program, with shuttles beyond this season dependent in part on how many fans ride them this year.

"If we can get 1,000 people a game, that's a huge relief to the neighborhood," Garcetti said.

McCourt called the plan an "interim solution" to the long-term goal of providing direct transit service to Dodger Stadium. Garcetti and City Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes the stadium, said McCourt's plan to turn the ballpark into a year-round attraction goes hand in hand with the expansion of public transit to Dodger Stadium.

"We've got to find a way to increase access," Reyes said.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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