By Noel T. Braymer
I got to bed a little early and woke up with plenty of time to get stuff done and down to the Oceanside Transportation Center on time for the last Metrolink departure of the morning. Then I had problems with the ticket machines again. I tried both machines at Oceanside and they were working, but neither would accept either my debit or credit card. The machine by the Amtrak Office wouldn’t accept the credit card of the guy in front of me. If I had been thinking I could have gotten cash out at the station’s ATM and gotten a ticket. But as the train left without me I went and got a round trip ticket on Amtrak instead. If the Amtrak train was on time, even leaving after Metrolink with one connections, I would get to Los Angeles 20 minutes before my connecting Metrolink route. The 565 was over 5 minutes late into Oceanside. It never seemed to get up to full speed the rest of the trip and was 20 minutes later than the scheduled 9:50 AM arrival in Los Angeles. It was late for a meet and had to wait south of San Juan Capistrano for a southbound Amtrak and like many trains had to wait at Fullerton for a freight to clear the tracks. It got into the station about the scheduled time of the Orange County Line Metrolink arrival, although that train is often up to 10 minutes early.
Coming into Los Angeles I noticed several BNSF Locomotives stored near LAUS, but most Metrolink trains don’t have these locomotives yet. Later that day I saw 2 trainsets with the BNSF Locos. First order of business in the station was to use the bathroom. Only I found the main bathrooms by the existing concourse were closed for remodeling. I had to backtrack to the other end of the tunnel to the smaller secondary bathrooms. No temporary bathrooms were available to replace the main ones being rebuilt. There was a line out the entrance for the Men’s Room at the east end of the station, but not for the Women’s Room. For the time being I bettter use the train’s bathroom before I get off the train.
Since I rode Amtrak, I didn’t get a day pass on LA Metro which comes included with Metrolink. LOSSAN is getting a grant from the State to do the same on Surfliners, but it doesn’t have that yet. I had an old TAP card, which was out of date so I had to pay a dollar for a TAP new card and $7 dollars for a day pass. A day pass in San Diego County is still $5. I decided to take the Gold Line to the end of the line at Pasadena first, then catch the bus to Little Tokyo to take pictures of the work on the Regional Connector. The trip to Pasadena seemed to go slowly. I think ridership is down because of the broken connection to Little Tokyo and East LA. I was hoping to get pictures of the Gold Line trains running on the new tracks to Azusa. Before they extended the Expo Line from La Cienega Blvd. to Culver City, they had everyone get off the train and the operator would run to Culver City and back to learn the route before they started passengers service.. I thought that is what they would be doing testing the tracks between east Pasadena and Azusa. When we got to the end of the line I think they had a new operator move the train on the new tracks a short distance. But all they did was send it to a crossover and then brought the train back to return to LAUS.
When I got back to LAUS I planned to take the shuttle bus to East LA and get off at Little Tokyo. I thought they had bus service to both. Anyway everyone got off at East LA. It was by the station nearest the LA River. So I ended up walking west over the river down 1st Street and got pictures of the construction which will finish next month. They are building a new connections so the Expo Line goes to East LA and the Blue Line goes to Azusa with a junction for trains outside of the new subway portal at Little Tokyo. They also need a temporary shoo-fly track until the project is finished. After I got some pictures there I kept walking up 1st St to Hill Street and caught the subway to 7th St and the Blue Line to the Green Line and the station nearest to LAX.
They are also doing track work between the Century Freeway and Long Beach on the Blue Line with some single tracking, so service was limited south of Willowbrook. It took over an hour to get to the Aviation Blvd Green Line Station from downtown LA. I just missed a connecting Blue Line Train at 7th and Flower after getting off the Red Line. I wasn’t sure at first if the shorten route train would connect to the Green Line. I finally figured it out it would and caught the next Blue Line Train. The Blue and Green Lines are a little wilder than the subway, Gold or even Expo Lines. Louder music, some people begging and lots of people selling drinks and snacks on the trains. I saw several of these guys with large coolers on small hand trucks full of drinks and a box of top of the cooler with snacks. The PA kept reminding passengers to report things like beggers and people selling food. I didn’t see any security or sheriffs deputies.
I got a few pictures of work on the Crenshaw line connecting to the Aviation Blvd station. I notices that the tracks of the old ATSF Harbor line are still intact south of Aviation. It was about 2 PM by now and I wanted to see if I could catch the 3 PM departure of the Surfliner out of LAUS to San Diego. It’s about 19 miles between LAX and downtown. I had better luck making connections this time coming back and got to LAUS maybe 5 minutes before 3 PM. I walked as fast as I could looking for the right platform and track. As I turned up the tunnel I had no more than 2 minutes before departure. I started running up the tunnel. When I got to the top I saw the conductor at the door just about ready to give the high ball. I kept running and tripped as I jumped on to the train. I was just happy to catch the train. I would have had an hour and 10 minute wait for the next train. I was hoping this one would be less crowded than the next. As it was I never got around to eating lunch.
I had forgotten that Fridays are the busiest days on the Surfliners. I was able to get a seat in Los Angeles, but not a window seat. In Orange County there were almost no empty seats with more people getting on than getting off. Also this train accepts Metrolink pass riders. I got off this train on time at 4:45 PM and headed home. About 2 miles from home I got stuck in traffic that must of delayed me about 15 minutes. I’m not sure what was going on. I could see almost a mile of back up and the intersection way ahead the traffic lights were all flashing red instead of a normal rotation. I heard a siren and saw a police car in the distance. But by the time I got to the light I didn’t see any problems. Most likely the problem was the rush hour traffic for people going home on a Friday. It is so much better when things work, trains run faster and on time and the connections are short.