Green Line Norwalk Station, LA Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line, LA Metro Green Line, LAX, Los Angeles International Airport, Metrolink Norwalk Station, Norwalk Transit, Oceanside Transit Center, Pacific Surfliner, PTC
By Noel T. Braymer
It had been a while since I had ridden the train to Los Angeles. So I recently got up early to catch my favorite economical train. Which is Metrolink 800 due out of Oceanside at 7:39 AM with connections to Los Angeles at Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo at 8:43 AM on train 687. I usually don’t drive to downtown Oceanside in the early morning during the workweek. But what is happening is increasing rush hour traffic during the weekday mornings in Oceanside. Needless to say even though I thought I left with plenty of time to buy my ticket and catch my train I was getting worried that I would miss my train. As it is I got to the Metrolink ticket machine about 5 minutes before departure. The two ticket machines at Oceanside are old and get a lot of use. As I was ordering my ticket the machine rejected my attempts to pay by credit or debit card. So I tried to pay by cash. The ticket machine accepted my paper bills, but rejected my coins. For lack of a dollar bill, I couldn’t get a ticket nor had time to walk to the other ticket machine and get back before train 800 departed. Needless to say I was quite annoyed. But I really wanted to go to Los Angeles that morning. So I paid extra and got a one way ticket on the next Surfliner to Los Angeles which arrived well before Metrolink 687.
Once I got to Los Angeles after taking a few pictures at LAUS I got a LA Metro Day Pass for $6. This is usually included with a Metrolink ticket for travel in Los Angeles County for travel on LA Metro. What I was planning was to see if better connections were possible between LAX and Norwalk on Metrolink. From Union Station, I used the Day Pass to take the “B” or Red Line to connect to the “A” or Blue Line. I transferred to the “C” or Green line to end up in Norwalk. The C line terminal at Norwalk is about 2 miles from the Norwalk Metrolink Station. I decided to walk mostly on Imperial Blvd to check out Norwalk.
From the Metrolink Station I would ride back to the Green Line Station by Norwalk bus transit and hop on the Green Line to at least the Aviation/LAX station with bus connections to LAX. What is largely ignored is how frequent Norwalk Transit bus service there is to the Norwalk Green Line Station. Norwalk Transit already has Norwalk Greenline Station service on its Routes 2, 5 and 7. Most interesting is Route 4. Between 2 to 4 Route 4 buses are run an hour in each direction during the workweek between the Metrolink Station and the Green Line Station. Metrolink not only has service at Norwalk on the Orange County Line. But also the 91/Perris Valley trains as well, while the Surfliner travels through but doesn’t stop at Norwalk. At least not yet. As part of Metrolink’s SCORE program more frequent train service is planned over the coming 8 years on Metrolink lines.With improvements and better joint scheduling between LA Metro, Metrolink and Norwalk transit it would be possible to greatly increase ridership between Metrolink and the Green Line. It’s a short walk at the Norwalk Metrolink Station to the Norwalk buses and also a short walk from the Norwalk Green Line Station bus stops to the Green Line. So what’s the hold up?
A major problem is the Green Line. One example of this is when I got back to the Norwalk Green Line Station there were 2 trainsets parked at the terminal. I followed another passenger to a track with a trainset with open doors and other people seating in this train. After some time the other trainset came to life, doors opened and closed before it left with passengers. There was no advanced notice of which train was scheduled to run or how frequent the service was running. It was a while before the train I was in finally left. Part of the problem is that the old Green Line or now C line is the third oldest rail transit line for LA Metro. I didn’t see digital readouts giving information about train frequencies at any of the Green Line Stations.
What I did noticed is that once the west bound Green Line train finally departed Norwalk it took only about 30 minutes to get to the Green Line station at Aviation and Imperial Highway. The Green Line is one of the fastest rail transit services in Los Angeles County because it doesn’t have street running. The Green Line trains flew by the heavy traffic on the 105 freeway. According to LA Metro, they are planning to open service on the Crenshaw Line this year. This includes connections to extend the Green Line north nearer to LAX at the corner of Century and Aviation. By 2023 LA Metro is planning to open a nearby Aviation/96th Street Station with connections to the future Airport People Mover to the LAX Terminals. Considering how soon the Green Line service extension is planned to serve LAX, it seems odd that improvements on the main line of the Green Line seem to be moving slowly.
Having direct rapid Green Line service nearer to the LAX Terminals this year should be a big deal. This can include a bus bridge connecting from Metrolink at Norwalk to the Green Line station at Norwalk to the transit center with LAX People Mover service at 96th street and Aviation Blvd. The future planning for the Green and Crenshaw lines include extending the Green Line south of its present terminal in Redondo Beach to Torrance by 2033. This would include extending some of the current platforms southwest of Aviation Blvd to Redondo Beach to handle 3 car trains. Also in planning is to combine the future Crenshaw-LAX/Green Line with one segment running From Crenshaw/Expo to LAX then heading east on the 105 freeway right of way to Norwalk. Basically this would combine the entire Crenshaw Line with most of the current Green Line north of the South Bay. The second service would run from the South Bay then turn east on the 105 freeway route as far as the now Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Green Line Station. The thinking behind this overlap of these 2 lines is to maximize the number of transfer options while cutting down on the number of transfers needed to get to a passenger’s destination.
From the Green Line Station near LAX I rode the Rapid 6 Culver City bus which mostly runs on Sepulveda Blvd near the 405 freeway. I got off near Pico Blvd to the Expo Line Station to head back to Union Station. I caught the second Metrolink train to Oceanside that evening. Several times the conductor came over the Public Address system announcing the train’s brakes were having trouble releasing which was why the train wasn’t moving. Latter the cause was given stemming from PTC- the Positive Train Control system braking the trains. Despite this the train got into Oceanside almost on time.