About 8,000 fans take Expo Line to USC football game

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – An estimated 8,000 football fans took Expo Line trains to USC’s home opener, marking the first time in nearly 50 years that light rail service has been available for game-goers, and another 2,000-3,000 took other Metro Rail lines and bus service, according to figures released today.

Metro CEO Art Leahy said before Saturday’s game that he would be happy if 4,000 to 5,000 fans took the Expo Line to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Trojans’ first game since the line’s April 28 opening.

Metro provided what it called enhanced service to the sold-out game, with three-car trains running every six minutes on all Metro Rail lines beginning three hours before the game and following the Trojans’ 49-10 victory over Hawaii.

Similar increased service will also be provided for this season’s five other USC home football games.

Event guides wearing cardinal T-shirts with gold lettering and cardinal caps, USC’s colors, were at Metro Rail hub departure points in Culver City, Long Beach, North Hollywood and Pasadena to assist passengers, many of whom were riding on the Metro Rail system for the first time.

Light rail service to USC football games was previously available on the Santa Monica Air Line, which discontinued passenger service on Sept. 30, 1953, four days after the Trojans defeated Minnesota, 17-7.

The Expo Line reuses the right-of-way of the Santa Monica Air Line along Exposition Boulevard.

Roommates Jenny Wapner and Rad Goel carpooled from their home in Santa Monica to board a train at the Culver City Station, the westernmost stop on the 8.6-mile Expo Line which runs to the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Wapner, a 28-year-old scholarship manager for an international education program, said she decided to take the train because “it’s much more convenient” and plans to do the same for future games because “it saves on time.”

Goel called taking a train relaxing because “you don’t have to worry about traffic.”

Taking Metro Rail to the game was “an adventure,” but Jan Heining said she and her husband have a season parking pass and plan to drive to games for the rest of the season because going by Metro Rail involves “too many trains.”

The couple took the Gold Line from the South Pasadena Station to Union Station, where they boarded a Red Line train to the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station for the Expo Line. “There was a lot more walking than I expected,” she told City News Service.

Her husband said riding the Expo Line “was more like riding a bus than a train” because of its stops at traffic lights on the portion of the line south of downtown Los Angeles, where it does not have its own right-of-way.

“I was surprised by that,” said Will Heining, who said he regularly rides the Gold and Red lines to his job operating the Christian Science Reading Room on Bunker Hill.

He praised Metro officials for “doing a great job” of “funneling passengers into a single line” as they boarded trains.

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