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Airport group bashes train plan

Authority says transportation center will bring Metrolink ridership up and eliminate need for cuts.

December 15, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

AIRPORT DISTRICT — Local officials are lining up against a Metrolink proposal to cut service to Bob Hope Airport by 28%, calling the plan a shortsighted way to deal with anemic ridership figures.

Metrolink officials contend that the average 500 daily passengers serviced by the eight Ventura County trains planned for elimination could be absorbed by higher-traffic lines, and that the proposal is the best way to save money while minimizing impacts to passengers.

But Don Brown, a member of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, pointed to the airport’s planned $120-million regional transportation center that would link the airport with passenger trains, shuttles, buses and taxicabs. Car rental companies would be next to the proposed Metrolink-Amtrak train station, slated for completion in 2012.

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“Looking ahead to the center, which we’re going to spend a lot of money on, a lot of that is directed at Metrolink passengers,” Brown said Tuesday. “For some oddball reason they think by waving this magic wand everybody is going to be happy. I think it’s the wrong message to send to the public that we don’t need that number of stops at the airport.”

Joyce Streator, president of the airport authority, said the elimination of trains servicing the airport — all of them Ventura County lines — would make the rail less appealing to potential riders.

“Moreover, cessation of these trains will severely diminish one of the greatest attributes of the existing service to this station — its remarkable synergy with alternate modes of travel that converge at Bob Hope Airport, whether it be by air, bus, or private and rented automobiles,” Streator wrote in a letter to Metrolink.

In all, 20 Ventura County line trains stop at Bob Hope Airport, and nine additional trains start and end at the airport station, Metrolink spokeswoman Angela Starr said.

Weekday ridership for the 103, 105, 107, 108, 109, 112, 114 and 116 lines averaged 493 daily passengers, according to the rail agency.

The Metrolink Board of Directors on Friday took no action on recommendations related to potential service cuts or fare increases, but approved a motion by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe to hold off on a fare increase.

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