HeadlinesApr 11, 2011
Our View: Last deals critical for Gold Line - Pasadena Star-News
With gas prices rising, commuters now more than ever need an alternative besides the single-occupancy automobile ride to get to and from work and school.
If there was a silver lining to the higher pump prices, which on Monday reached $4.17 per gallon on average in Southern California, it's that the bus, train or light rail are fast becoming more cost-effective options.
Getting commuters out of their cars is not easily accomplished in the car capital of the world, not even here in the San Gabriel Valley or southeast Los Angeles County. It's not because of selfishness, as some would argue - it's because of inconvenience. For many commuters, taking a bus or train would add a lot of time, sometimes even hours, to their daily commute, except on the worst of traffic days. So drivers make that daily bet. The key to easing gridlock, cutting air pollution and giving commuters "found time" instead of stress time on their odyssey to and from work and school is an affordable and convenient mass transit alternative. The sheer size of this megalopolis makes that task much harder than in relatively compact Boston or New York City, Seattle or Portland.
That's why we've supported and continue to urge lawmakers and mass transit agencies to extend more light-rail lines and stations closer to the region's bedroom communities. That's what Metro and the Metro Gold Line Extension Construction Authority are doing, though it can never be fast enough.
The factor currently slowing down, for example, the extension of the Gold Line from east Pasadena to Azusa is the acquisition of 24 acres in Monrovia for a Gold Line maintenance and operations yard. After negotiating the best deal, Monrovia should finalize the sale of its 14-acre portion this month to the authority. Half the site needs to be acquired before the Gold Line can fully move ahead with the extension, which will include stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. San Gabriel Valley cities and agencies should lend their support to Monrovia, which has stepped up to help make this happen. Metro needs an additional maintenance and operations yard within the new service area. And the facility will create jobs.
When people ask "why does the extension take so long?," this is one of the answers. Another property owner has sued the authority for trying to acquire the rest of the land, possibly through eminent domain. While negotiations will be tough, we urge the authority to negotiate for the necessary land and provide a fair price. It would be wrong for hassles over one or two small deals to delay the completion of the 11.3-mile Gold Line Foothill extension, now scheduled for 2014.
Is the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line the answer for every commuter? Nothing is right for everyone. It is just one of a number of new projects in the region - including the Expo Line from south Los Angeles to Culver City, set to open this fall - that will give commuters a second or third choice while leaving their cars in the driveway, away from the gas pump.