Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington announced on Thursday that Phase 1 of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Project will officially open to the public on Saturday, March 5, 2016. This will be the first rail line funded and built with the 2008 Measure R countywide sales tax.
The Gold Line Extension will extend nearly 12 miles east from the current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station to Azusa. Six new stops are part of this phase of the extension and include Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, Azusa Downtown, and APC/Citrus College.
According to Metro Board Member and City of Duarte Councilmember John Fasana, the Gold Line Extension will provide relief to the 210 freeway. The line is expected to carry 13,600 riders every day, with trains arriving every 12 minutes during peak hours. In conjunction with the opening of the Extension, Metro will also begin service on the new NoHo-Pasadena Express bus, which will connect the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys with service from the Red/Orange Line station in North Hollywood to two Gold Line stations in Pasadena.
Major construction of the Extension was completed in September 2015 by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning and construction agency. The new stations were beautifully designed with the community in mind, and were conscious of the first mile/last mile problem that exists for many Metro riders. I spoke to the Construction Authority CEO, Habib Balian, who says each station is equipped with amenities such as bike lockers, charging stations, and parking for 200-400 vehicles.
Metro is beginning its pre-revenue operations testing on the Gold Line Extension to ensure safety. This includes a “burn-in” process of its new fleet of Kinkisharyo train cars, which each need to run on the tracks for 1,500 miles. Metro is also focusing on community outreach to ensure pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists are safe around passing trains. 24 safety ambassadors are posted during peak hours to help people safely cross the new lines. The ambassadors are retired bus and rail operators who are fully trained in safety rules, and will assist at crossings with questions and reporting safety-related issues.