The results are in: All the hard work that LA County Metro has put into developing and expanding the light rail lines is paying off. According to the numbers released on Monday, transit ridership is at its highest level ever, as the number of passengers increased on all four systems in July. Last month, the total amount of riders was up by 8.9 percent throughout the county. These numbers are important because a higher demand means that the network is likely to experience further expansion.
The line seeing the greatest increase is the Gold Line, which runs from Pasadena to East L.A. Ridership has nearly doubled on this route since this time last year. The other lines also had great months, as the Green Line recorded its second best month, and the Blue Line and Red/Purple Line set all-time records.
This news comes as the finishing touches are being put on the Expo Light Rail Line, which is set to launch within the next few months. This line is set to run from Downtown to Culver City, and will eventually run to Santa Monica when the second leg of the project is completed in the next few years.
Interestingly, bus ridership did not see the same increase that the rails reported. The Metro bus system actually saw a slight decline in ridership over the past year. Supporters of rail expansion will likely use this data to push further rail projects, such as the proposed Crenshaw Line, which developers will hope will bridge the gap between mid-City and LAX. The Gold Line extension to the Inland Empire is another Metro project, which hopes to connect the eastern suburbs with L.A.
Only the future will determine how much light rails can change the urban landscape in a traditionally auto-dependant city. There is no doubt that the ever-increasing gas prices will play a role in the popularity of this transportation alternative. Who knows, with all the development downtown, L.A. may soon be a shining example of transit-oriented development.