By Noel T. Braymer
On a regular basis I like to catch a train to see what’s going on and what’s new with rail passenger service. I like most train stations. But one issue with taking the train is where do I go once I get into town on the train? This is one reason I really like taking Metrolink. With a round trip Metrolink ticket you can use your ticket that day to go places without a car in the County you rode to on Metrolink. Well the County that most people ride to on Metrolink is Los Angeles County. You can travel most of Los Angeles County with LA Metro services. Here are some examples of what you can do to get away from the train station while getting around with out a car.
Basically a Metrolink ticket to Los Angeles gives you a day pass for that day of travel riding most LA Metro services. Many of the other Los Angeles County transit services also accept your Metrolink ticket, but some don’t. On my most recent train trip with my camera ever ready I went all over much of Los Angeles County. This started with an early morning train into LAUS. The first place I wanted to go to was “Bob Hope Airport”, aka Burbank Airport. In particular I wanted to check out what was working and what was needed to get more people riding the train to and from Burbank Airport. First things first with my camera ready I walked around Union Station to see what was new. Then I was ready to head for the airport. From Union Station I caught the Red Line Subway to North Hollywood. At North Hollywood I knew that if I showed my current Metrolink ticket to the Burbank Bus driver to the airport I could ride to any of the bus stops along the way on that route for no extra charge.
This is the view at the North Hollywood Red Line Station from the nearby Burbank Bus Stop for travel to the Burbank Airport
When I got to the airport the bus stop was in part of the airport’s Regional Intermodal Transportation Center. This includes a consolidated rental car facility in the Regional Intermodal Transportation Center. Shortly after I got off the Burbank Bus I could see the South, or “Bob Hope Airport” Train Station which is on Metrolink’s Ventura County Line. But I couldn’t see how I could get to the south airport train station from the RITC when all I could see was a fence in the way. I ended up walking to the terminals from the RITC on a covered, elevated walkway with long segments of moving sidewalk. When I got close to the terminals I could see a sidewalk which led out to the crosswalk across from the airport to the train station. Just as I came up to the the airport’s south train station what shows up at the station but the northbound Coast Starlight stopped at the south train station.
This is the view of the Burbank Airport South Train Station from the upper deck of the airport’s Regional Intermodal Transportation Center. How do I get there from here?
This is the northbound Coast Starlight stopping at the “south” Burbank Airport Station.
These are the original signs still used for what is now Burbank Airport South Train Station. You can see in the background the terminals which includes what looks like a control tower.
Well the south train station is quite walkable to the current terminals. My next trip was to walk to the new north train station on Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line. The north station is a much longer walk to the current terminals than from the south station. Also much of the airport property in the north is rather vacant nearby the new north station. The reason for that is the airport for years has been planning to build new, larger and more modern terminals on the north side of the airport. Also the north airport train station is planned to be part of the High Speed Rail Station for Hollywood Burbank airport. There has been an on going conflict between the airport and some local residents about moving the terminals to the north of the airport.
This is the view of the north end of Hollywood Burbank Airport. This is where the airport wants to build their new terminals and where some local residents don’t want more air travel out of Burbank.
Well once I got to the north airport train station my problem was how would I get back to downtown Los Angeles? The next southbound train Metrolink train wasn’t due for almost an hour. That seemed like a long time to kill. So I checked out the bus service at the bus stop near the train station.What I found was a Burbank Bus Route that served the north train station called the Golden State Circulator. It also serves much of the area around the airport. But doesn’t quite get you to the terminals. What is holding back ridership on both airport train stations is lack of frequent service. Both stations should be offering train service every half hour which would mean 4 trains an hour most of the day between the airport and downtown Los Angeles. This is planned to happen in less than 8 years from now.
The view from the current platform of Burbank Airport North Train Station.
My problem at the moment was getting back to downtown LA for my next trip. While looking at the sign at the north station bus stop, I noticed 2 LA/Metro bus lines that stopped by the north airport station and went to downtown LA, the 94 and the 794. Both took generally the same route. But the 794 is an express, faster service than the 94 bus. As I was pondering this the 794 came to the bus stop, I got in and showed my Metrolink ticket and was heading to downtown LA. It was a good thing too since I got to Los Angeles before I would have if I waited for Metrolink.
The official name of the second Burbank Airport Train Station
This is the bus stop for Burbank Airport North Train Station. And its how I got back to downtown Los Angeles.
This was the view from the 794 bus on the San Fernando Road next to the UP double tracks in the Burbank/Glendale area. It will take a lot of work to turn this into a 4 track, fully grade separated High Speed Rail Line. But we will need it,
Neither the 94 or 794 stopped at Union Station. But they did run downtown on Hill Street which has 2 subway stations and at Hill and 7th street it is a few blocks to the 7th and Flower subway station which is the transfer point between Heavy and Light Rail in Los Angeles. At 7th and Flower with my Metrolink Ticket I could either TAP my ticket to a reader on the turnstile or use a scanner to read the ticket’s bar code on the turnstile to get through. At 7th and Flower I got on the Expo Line headed for Santa Monica. The Expo Line for now is mine and a lot of people in Los Angeles’ favorite transit rail service. What is also amazing is the major new construction projects being built right next to some of the Expo Line’s stations. I also wanted to catch the Culver City #6 City Bus which would get me from the Sepulveda Blvd Expo Station to the Green Line Station at Imperial Highway. This way I could view the progress of the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line which runs from Imperial Highway south of LAX to the transfer point on Exposition Blvd at Crenshaw Blvd to the Expo Line.
This is a view of construction right next to the La Cienega Blvd Expo Line Station.
This is the view from the Expo Line of new construction at the Culver City Station
This is the view of new construction from the Expo Line at the Sepulveda Blvd station.
What I noticed was construction for the right of way of the LAX People Mover to the Airport’s terminals. The #6 bus stopped at a bus station for LAX at a discount airport parking lot with a shuttle bus to the terminals which will be replaced by the People Mover by 2023. Also from riding Culver City Bus #6 riding down Aviation Blvd to the Green Line Imperial Highway station I could see the last finishing touches on the work for the Chenshaw/LAX Line which is planned to open next year. One of the reasons I like the Culver City bus is the senior citizen fare is only 35 cents which works for me. I had planned to take the #6 bus back and catch the Expo Line back to Union Station. But I thought the bus trip back would take too long in traffic and I might be better off catching the Green Line and connect with the Blue Line back to Downtown LA.
This is the view from the south end looking down Green Line tracks at the Imperial Highway Green Line station. At the right hand side is the junction and new catenary work for the under construction Crenshaw/LAX Line. Both the Green Line and Crenshaw lines will be serving the LAX area and sharing tracks.
Things went fairly well on the Green Line even though it and the Blue Line are undergoing major maintenance work. I got off at the Rosa Parks/ Willowbrook station. This is the normal transfer point between the Blue and Green Lines. But for now the Blue Line stops one station short of the Williowbrook station terminating at the 103rd street station. Half of the Blue Line is shut down now for major track work. I figured I would only be going from one station to the next which shouldn’t take too long. We were told to get on a bus going to 103rd st. at Willowbrook. Even though it was a 60 foot articulated bus, we left with a few standees. The bus took Compton Ave to 103rd Street and it was congested and slow. Once we got on the Blue Line and travel north thing settled down to normal. At 7th and Flower I caught the next subway to Union Station. I had about a 40 minute wait after that for the next Metrolink train to Oceanside and home.
On my way home the train passes behind Union Station along the bank of the Los Angeles River. It is at a yard behind Union Station where Metrolink are receiving more new Tier 4 Locomotives which are in the silver and teal paint scheme. At the same time Metrolink is also phasing out older locomotives painted in white.