60 Freeway Closure Sends Commuters to Metrolink

Ridership was up Thursday on Metrolink trains, as commuters scrambled for new ways to get around

By Conan Nolan and Bill French
|  Friday, Dec 16, 2011  |  Updated 6:27 AM PDT
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The 60 Freeway closure forced commuters to come up with new ways to get around. Metrolink was one of the beneficiaries

Conan Nolan and Scott Meadows

The 60 Freeway closure forced commuters to come up with new ways to get around. Metrolink was one of the beneficiaries

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Metrolink trains between Union Station and inland communities were busy Thursday, as commuters scrambled to get around without use of the freeway they love to hate.

They turned to a transportation that's been around for decades, but often seems neglected. The old "iron horse" was a winner Thursday, with word that the 60 Freeway wouldn't be fully open anytime soon.

It turns out the best marketing tool for a railroad is a closed freeway. Now, Metrolink is considering adding train cars to its Riverside County line because of the increase in business.

Train officials think the increase in ridership may be even greater Friday, as people who attempted to use freeways on Thursday decide it's not worth it.

Metrolink says bad freeway situations build a customer base, as commuters share stories of woe on the roads. And the company, while not hoping for problems, depends on these situations for marketing.

"When we talk to our current customers and ask them how they found out about Metrolink, the number one answer is word of mouth," says Metrolink's Sherita Coffelt. "That's the best P.R. can do, is seeing that the Metrolink is moving during peak hours when you're standing still."  

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