Open Seats on Free Bus, Rail Rides During 405 Closure

Even free bus rides haven't enticed people to leave their homes during Carmageddon.

With residents apparently heeding the call today to avoid the Sepulveda Pass due to the closure of the San Diego (405) Freeway, some people opted to jump on Metrolink trains, but ridership was noticeably light on Metro bus and rail lines -- even though they will be free all weekend.

"People obviously have stayed away from the area," Metro spokesman Rick Jager said. "We're still encouraging people if they have to go out and about ... to try to take public transit."

Jager said ridership was reported to be light on the Red and Purple light rail lines, the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley and on the 26 bus lines along major routes in the area near the freeway closure.

Extra: Carmageddon Survival Kit

Although traffic was light in the area and motorists appeared to staying clear, Jager noted there was still a long weekend ahead.

"We don't want to become complacent here," he said.

The free bus lines include routes along Venice, Wilshire, Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards from downtown to the Westside. A rapid bus connecting the San Fernando Valley and Westwood along Sepulveda Boulevard and east-west routes throughout the Valley will also be free.

The agency added 61 buses to eight major bus lines, including the 2, which links downtown to the Pacific Palisades along Sunset Boulevard, and rapid buses that travel to Santa Monica along Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. It also added 16 buses to enhance late night service on some of those routes.

A complete list of the free and expanded transit routes during the construction is at

But while ridership was light on the Metro lines, Metrolink reported an uptick in the number of passengers on its Antelope Valley and Ventura County lines.

Spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said there were about 100 more passengers than usual on Antelope Valley line trains today. About 50 people took advantage of the Ventura County line trains, which don't normally run on weekends.

Metrolink was offering unlimited weekend ride passes for $10 -- an option the service began earlier this month.

``It sounds like people got the word -- either stay at home, or if you have to travel, take public transit,'' Coffelt said.

Amtrak was reporting increased ridership on its Surfliner train from Los Angeles to San Diego, and noted that the $10 unlimited pass includes Metrolink service to Oceanside.

Amtrak offered half-price fares to passengers traveling between Union Station and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. With the discount, the fare between downtown Los Angeles and Burbank on the Pacific Surfliner train is $3 each way. The fare for children aged 2 to 15 who are accompanied by an adult will be $1.50 each way.

Metro is the lead agency on the project to remove part of the historic Mulholland Bridge this weekend. Until early Monday, the northbound 405 Freeway will be closed for a 10-mile stretch between the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and the Ventura (101) Freeway. The southbound freeway will be closed for four miles between the 101 and Getty Center Drive.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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