Eastside Gold Line Reaches One Year Milestone

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

 

Cousins Nelson Garcia and Gigi Lopez traveled out of East LA on Monday as culture tourists to Pasadena. The two were on a mission to find fun ingredients at Trader Joes for a desert sculpture. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

 

Monday marked the first anniversary of the Metro Gold Line’s extension to the eastside of Los Angeles, and the celebratory inauguration of the Edward R. Roybal Gold Line Eastside Extension/La Línea de Oro’s smooth ride from Union Station in downtown Los Angles to its final stop at the Atlantic Station near East Los Angeles College and Atlantic Square.

Now, one year later, it appears many East L.A. and Boyle Heights residents, as well as people from the surrounding communities, have made the light rail part of their routines, local excursions and community activity commitments—although traffic tickets along the route remain a sore spot for both drivers and pedestrians.

The Gold Line has made access to a number of popular eastside locations more convenient, and some of the rail stops have become centers for civic and cultural activities. A farmer’s market, for example, is now held every Friday on the ground level of Mariachi Plaza Station in Boyle Heights.

The opening of the Gold Line has allowed riders to expand their entertainment choices, both on the eastside and points beyond through connecting routes at Union Station.

Self Help Graphics & Art, a long-time art institution located on Cesar Chavez Avenue, held it’s 37th annual Día de los Muertos event for the second time in a row at the East LA Civic Center, one of the stops along the Gold Line’s route through East Los Angeles. The size of the venue and the proximity to public transportation were factors in changing the events location, Evonne Gallardo, Executive Director, told EGP on Tuesday.

Running Wolf Hernandez is one of the Metro train operators who has been on board since la Línea de Oro began operations on Nov. 15, 2009. The Gold Line brings communities together, he told EGP on Monday soon after his rush-hour shift ended.

While residents on the eastside now have quicker access to events at Mission Station and in Pasadena, Hernandez says Angelenos from other areas have also benefited by the opening of the eastside extension.

“East LA has the best food. Go to ‘Manny’s El Loco,’ that place is great, ask them for the ‘Running Wolf Special,’ [taco or burrito],” Hernandez joked.

Although the poor economy is still hurting local businesses as many unemployed Angelenos choose to stay home rather than go out, the Gold Line ridership numbers are nearly triple Metro’s projection of 13,000 weekday boardings during the first year of operation. Last month, weekday boardings rose to 35,649, according to Jose Ubaldo, a Metro spokesperson.

November ridership numbers are still being collected.

Eastside Extension Year One  Facts at a Glance

Accidents: There have been seven accidents to date, all car vs. train, said Jose Ubaldo, Metro spokesperson.

The accidents were caused by five drivers who made illegal left turns; one driver who made an illegal right turn, and one driver who disobeyed a red light. All of the accidents have been minor, and there have been no fatalities.

Awards: The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension has won several recognition and awards, according to Ubaldo:

—2010 “Outstanding Government Civil Engineering Project,” from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Los Angeles Section
—2010 “Outstanding Project of the Year Award” (Underground Construction Association of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc.)
—2010 “Project Achievement Award/Honorable Mention Infrastructure $100 Million +” (Construction Management Association of America – Southern California Chapter)
—“Best of 2010 Award for Transportation in Southern California,” California Construction Magazine
—“Project of the Year for 2009,” Los Angeles Downtown News

What Some Gold Line Riders Have to Say

Ricardo Solis, 42, East LA Resident, originally from Mexico City
Solis works as a housekeeper in South Pasadena and rides the Gold Line to work daily.
Before he began using the Gold Line, his trip would take two hours, and two buses, (#81 and #111). Solis says the Gold Line has reduced his trip to just 45 minutes.
“Es mejor, más rápido, limpio y cómodo.” (It’s better, faster, cleaner and more comfortable.”)

Jorge Andrade, 28, of Highland Park
Andrade is an Emergency Medical Technician and skateboard enthusiast.
He says driving on the job can be stressful, so he likes being able to ride the train to the East LA Civic Center Station where he than takes a short walk to Belvedere Park’s skate park.
“I just wish it ran 24 hours.”

Stefanie Dare, 27, of Monterey Park
A legal assistant, Dare started working in downtown LA three months ago. She rides the Gold Line for the convenience.
“I love the Gold Line. It’s easier. I don’t have to worry about parking, it’s cheaper than driving, it’s very on-time and the drivers are so courteous and nice.”

Rosa Arellano, 26, of East LA
A Data Entry clerk in Pasadena, Arellano says her commute is less of a hassle since the Gold Line opened.
“I used to have to take two buses, or one bus to the Red Line to connect to the Gold Line.”

Nelson Garcia, 19, and Gigi Lopez, 22, are cousins and both live in City Terrace
Nelson says his job opportunities opened up with the opening of the Gold Line; he now takes it to the Trader Joes where he works. “I was looking for a job anywhere.”
Lopez rides the Gold Line for recreation; she is a student at the East LA Occupational Center.
“We’re on our way to a grocery store because I heard they have some good stuff over there…I’m making a Rice Krispies sculpture [for school].”

Daisy Aguilar, 18, of South Central
Daisy’s educational opportunities opened when the Gold Line extended its route east. She recently began attending East Los Angeles College. She chose ELAC because it is a little further from home and she hopes to meet new people.
“I’m studying to be a registered nurse, I’m also looking for a job. I used to take more buses, each was $1.50, this is cheaper and faster…it comes continuously every 6 to 10 minutes, it’s way less waiting than for a bus.”

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November 18, 2010  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

2 Responses to “Eastside Gold Line Reaches One Year Milestone”

  1. Ken Ruben on November 19th, 2010 2:38 pm

    I was on the FIRST train to East LA on November 16 , 2009 with about 15 others or so at 3:40 a.m. in the morning.

    I was able to make official arrangements to stay in Union Station ALL NIGHT although I spent an hour or so in the Denny’s across from the METRO Headquarters, etc.

    Before the FIRST run, I had been on several “railfan/transitfan” excursions sponsored by various rail/transit enthusiast groups (a week or two before the start of regular service).

  2. Ken Ruben on November 19th, 2010 2:41 pm

    In my previous comment, I accidentally mentioned November 16 2009.

    The start-up date was actually November 15, 2009.

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