Local elected officials talk transit on Metrolink ride

Councilwoman Marsha McLean, Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Metrolink CEO Art Leahy stand in front of a train on July 3, 2017. Courtesy of Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Twitter.

Donning neon orange safety vests, Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Santa Clarita City Councilwoman Marsha McLean boarded the Metrolink Monday morning.

The two joined Metrolink CEO Art Leahy to ride in a locomotive and discuss ideas for funding and improvements to the transit system.

“Metrolink was excited that two officials of Supervisor Barger and Councilwoman McLean’s status took the time and interest to take a ride on our train, to see safety and reliability while also seeing the need for maintenance and rehabilitation projects,” Metrolink spokesperson Scott Johnson said.

In total, there are 40,000 passenger trips on Metrolink each day, 6,000 of which happen on the Antelope Valley line, which includes Santa Clarita’s three stations.

Metrolink is governed by five separate agencies, one in each county it runs through, and half of its budget is subsidized by these agencies, Johnson said.

The Antelope Valley line is the only one that does not leave its respective county, giving it both unique benefits and challenges, according to the spokesman.

Barger took the train from Downtown Los Angeles to Newhall where she met McLean before the two rode to Lancaster.

“We were learning about some of the repairs that are being completed around the Antelope Valley line and some repairs that are not being made because of a lack of funding,” Councilwoman Marsha McLean said.

The trip was both fun and educational, as it gave the elected officials the chance to see the work Metrolink engineers do every day, according to McLean.

“What I found was the engineer has so much work to do every minute that he is in control of that engine,” she said. “I was really amazed. I think our engineers are heroes.”

The discussion and ride brought to McLean’s attention that Metrolink needs more funding to add more trains and to build a double track so the train can simultaneously ride in both directions, she said.

Barger, who is on the Metrolink board, sought to understand some of the challenges the transit system faces in order to better discern what could be done to enhance it, according to her Communications Deputy Tony Bell.

“We know how important Metrolink is for the county and region,” Bell said. “It is a vital component of our transit system.”

According Barger’s Transportation Deputy Dave Perry, the Antelope Valley line serves as a “lifeline” for Northern Los Angeles County.

“The Antelope Valley line poses some of biggest challenges and Supervisor Barger wanted to really have a look at some of those challenges,” Perry said.

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