Gold Line not so express?

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA – Adriana Castaneda leaves the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line station at 8:25 a.m. on a train headed for Union Station. Ten minutes later, Miriam Ayala boards an express train leaving from the same platform and heading to the same destination. Castaneda’s train makes 11 stops along the way. Ayala’s train makes only three. Who arrives at Union Station first? The answer: Castaneda, by five minutes. Even knowing this before she boarded the train Thursday morning, Ayala, 18, was undaunted. She watched one train leave and waited 10 minutes in a chilly wind for the new Gold Line express train to take her downtown. “It just seems faster,” she said. “It skips the stops I don’t need.” Meantime, Castaneda, 19, was already on the move. “I’ll still be there before, and that’s what counts,” she said. Although this is only its first week, the Gold Line express service has had a mixed track record of success. There are riders such as Ayala, who are attracted by the simple idea of saving time during the rush-hour commute. And there are riders such as Mark Woodside, who think the express train is a boondoggle. “The promotion is an Orwellian way of misleading the public,” Woodside said in an e-mail to MTA officials. “Express service really means MTA has reduced the daily one-way trips from 97 to about 88.” Woodside and others complain that MTA has sacrificed convenience and comfort for a marginally faster train. “I used to tell people that I thought the Gold Line was great. Now it is less frequent and more-often-than-not crowded,” Woodside continued. “If you have a car, just drive downtown. You save time and it is more comfortable.” Bob Huddy, a transportation adviser at the Southern California Association of Governments, said MTA has to run fewer trains to accommodate the express service, and that has meant crowding on the local trains. “The average time savings for the express train is less than three minutes. The local \ are sardine cans filled to the gills,” he said. “We are waiting twice as long for one-third less service on packed trains.” The Gold Line takes an average of 34 minutes to make the trip from East Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. The express train cuts that down to 29 minutes. MTA officials hope the shorter trip will give commuters a reason to get out of their cars. And more riders are needed to prove to federal authorities that the planned $1.4 billion, 24-mile extension from Pasadena to Montclair is a good investment. Cecelia Gutierrez, a Spanish interpreter from Monrovia, took the express train Thursday for the first time. She said she has had enough of the 11/2-hour commute to her job in downtown Los Angeles. “I probably won’t do this every day, but I thought I’d give it a try,” she said. “It looks like it is going to work.” Several riders said they had the impression the express train saved more than five minutes because there were fewer stops and starts. “I thought we were saving 10 or 15 minutes, to tell you the truth,” said Chris Stamps, a frequent rider from Pasadena. Either way, he said, the express offers a more peaceful ride. “I hate that guy. I really do,” Stamps said, referring to the driver announcing the next station. “It just drives me crazy.” Kensworth Perigen is one of the ambassadors MTA has hired to man the stations this week and help riders figure out the new system. Perigen is assigned to the Fillmore station in Pasadena. Asked Thursday about any complaints, Perigen said he has heard “a lot grumbling, a lot of mumbling,” and then whipped out a note pad filled with comments he has written down. They range from, “Why does the express stop only at stations where there is paid parking?” to “Why do it if it only saves two to five minutes?” Perigen said he mostly explains to bewildered riders why the express train isn’t stopping, and lets them know when the next local train will arrive. “A lot of people don’t want to look at the schedule,” he said. “They’ll catch on to it.” [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4458last_img read more