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"Build it and they will come." That's what transit proponents have been saying about light rail and other rail transit projects. And that certainly appears to have proven true in the case of Los Angeles's Red Line ("heavy" rail) subway extension into LA's San Fernando Valley suburbs.
It's important to keep in mind that the Red Line subway is an example of "heavy", not light rail. Nevertheless, its apparent success is a major selling point for the effectiveness of rail transit.
And success there has been indeed. On its very first day of operation, the Red Line met its targeted ridership goal of 100,000 rider-trips - otherwise not expected until much later in the year. That's an increase of about 35,000 person-trips.
Assuming most of those trips were made by individuals making round trips, that suggests that about 17,000 more people in the San Fernando Valley were attracted to the new transit service - many of them leaving their cars at home and off of the Valley's crowded freeways.
However, that's not the whole story.
In the days since the opening, ridership has continued to grow - and not just on the Red Line, but the light rail Blue and Green Lines as well. Those successes are detailed in the following LACMTA information bulletin, dated 00/07/05.
Ridership on the 17.4 mile long Metro Red Line has nearly doubled since the subway system was extended to the San Fernando Valley on June 24, according the statistics compiled by 25 MTA schedule checkers who observe daily passenger boardings at each of the 16 subway stations and record their findings on hand-held computers.
Prior to opening of three new stations at Hollywood/Highland, Universal City and North Hollywood, when the system was 11.1 miles in length, ridership on the subway averaged 65,150 daily boardings in the month of May. Ridership on the expanded subway after one week has surged to an average of some 120,516 daily boardings through last Friday, an 85 percent increase.
Ridership this past week also jumped by 5 percent on the 22-mile light rail Metro Blue Line to an estimated 63,000 boarding passengers and by 10 percent on the 20-mile light rail Metro Green Line to 27,500 boarding passengers. Overall, ridership on the 59.4 mile Metro Rail System has increased to 211,015 daily boardings, or 42 percent, compared to the May figure of 149,050 daily boardings.
Meanwhile, tabulations on ridership numbers for the new Metro Rapid Bus system, inaugurated on the same as the subway extension to North Hollywood, will begin Wednesday. In the San Fernando Valley, Metro Rapid buses run between Warner Center and Universal City Metro Red Line Station along Ventura Boulevard, a 16-mile distance. In Los Angeles proper itself, buses travel 26 miles from Santa Monica to Montebello along Wilshire and Whittier boulevards.