Southern Californian Rail Connections: the good and the bad.

By Noel T. Braymer

The reality of most travel without a car is you have to transfer to get to where you want to go. Good rail passenger sevice depends on quick and easy connections. Perhaps the best feature of BART is it is designed to allow passengers to transfer easily within BART. Connections are repeatedly announced at transfer stations where the wait between trains is usually on the same platform and often last no more than 5 minutes. While such levels of connectivity are still off in the future for Southern California, simple steps can be made to publicize the connections that exist and improve or create more connections with little effort.

Los Angeles Union Station is THE hub of rail passenger service for Southern California. LAUS is the logical place to start to check on the status of rail passneger connections. Connectivity is a complicated issue. With so many variables it is hard to make all the pieces fit. The Swiss National Railway takes years to develop a timetable for just one hour of service. After that they rarely make changes and use the same schedule for every hour of the day all week long. To simplify this report we will look at Saturday service on a few lines. Saturday is a good day to expand service connectivity since much of the travel is discretionary and improvement to ridership would be easy to track.

On Saturday Metrolink has service from Los Angeles to Orange County, the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino. While not publicized, there are some good connections and others that can be improved. Passengers from Orange County arrive at LAUS at 8:20 AM and can leave for the Antelope Valley at 9:00 AM. There are also connections with arrival at 11:50 for a Noon departure and a very tight connection with a 4:08 PM arrival to a 4:10 departure. For travelers from the Antelope and Santa Clarita Valleys to Orange County there is a connection with an 8:40 arrival at LAUS to an 8:45 departure. But a passenger on the 11:40 AM arrival has to wait until 12:45 leave for Orange County. The passengers on the 3:05 arrival have to leave at 4:30. The last train of the night arrives at 8:20 and leaves for Orange County at 8:45 PM.

For Metrolink connections between Orange County and San Bernardino you can arrive from Orange County at 8:20AM and leave at 9:00AM. At 11:50 you can arrive at LAUS as the 11:50 departure leaves for San Bernardino. At 4:08 PM you can connect with the 4:45 departure. For passengers going to Orange County from the San Gabriel Valley you can arrive at 8:40 AM and depart at 8:45 AM. At 12:35 PM you can catch the 12:45 PM to Orange County, at 4:20 PM catch the 4:30 departure and at 8:40 catch the 8:45 PM departure.

There are also connections on Metrolink between the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino. Arriving from Lancaster at 8:40 AM you can depart for San Bernardino at 9:00AM. You can also arrive at 11:40 and leave at 11:50 and at 1:10 to leave at 1:20PM. Arrival at 3:05 connects with the 3:25 departure as does the 5:25 with a 6:15 and an 8:20 to a 9:00PM departure. Going from San Bernardino to the Antelope Valley there are connections between the 8:40 to 9:00AM, 11:30 to Noon, 2:05 to 2:45PM. One problem the LAUS arrival from San Bernardino at 4:20PM misses the 4:10 departure to the Antelope Valley. The 5:40PM train connects at 6:08 and the 8:40 at 9PM.

Connections between the Amtrak Surfliners and Metrolink are not very good. Between San Diego and the Antelope Valley there is a tight connectin with a Surfliner arrival at 8:50AM with the 9:00AM departure to Lancaster. The 12:15PM Surfliner misses the Noon Metrolink departure. The 2:40PM Surfliner arrival has a tight connection with a 2:45 Metrolink departure. There is a 5:45PM arrival that can connect with a 6:05 departue. The 9:05 Surfliner arrival misses the 9:00PM Metrolink departure. It gets worse! The Metrolink train arriving from Lancaster at 8:40AM misses the 8:30AM Surfliner departure to San Diego. The 11:40AM arrival misses the 11:10 departure. There is a 1:10PM arrival to meet a 2:00PM departure.The 3:05 arrival misses the 3:00PM Saturday departue. The 5:25 arrival misses the 5:10 departue and the 8:20 arrival misses the 8:00PM departure.

Things are not much better between San Diego and San Bernardino, despite both trains having frequent service. The 8:50 AM arrival from San Diego meets with the 9:00AM departure to San Bernardino. The 9:50AM arrival meets with the 10:40 departure. The 12:15 arrival meets with the 1:20 departure. There is a 1:15 arrival on Saturday that could meet a 1:20 departure. The 3:35 arrival misses the 3:25 departure. The 5:45 arrival meets the 6:15 departure. The Saturday 9:05 arrival misses the 9:00PM departure. The 11:05 arrival meets the 11:30 departure. The 8:40AM arrival from Riverside/San Bernardino misses the 8:30AM departure to San Diego. The 10:15 arrival in Los Angeles meets with an 11:10 departure to San Diego. The 12:35 arrival misses the 12:25 departue. The 3:10 arrival misses the 3:00 departure. The 4:20 arrival misses the 4:05 departure as does the 5:40 arrival to the 5:10 departure. The 8:40PM arrival misses the 8:00 departure and the 10:50 arrival misses the 10:10 departure.

With a little coordination and a few changes to the schedule there can be connections the rest of the week which will greatly improve local rail passenger service

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