By Andrew Clark | Signal Staff Writer
Metrolink is offering Santa Clarita commuters a New Year’s resolution of ditching their cars for the train.
Ridership aboard the Antelope Valley Line, which includes stops at Newhall, Santa Clarita and Via Princessa stations, is trending up, according to Metrolink officials.
The line’s average daily passenger count is 5,818 while the average weekday boardings per month between June and November were highest at the Via Princessa station with 511. The Santa Clarita station had an average of 387 weekday boardings per month and Newhall station had 373 weekday boardings during the same period.
“More people are learning that Metrolink is the way to go,” City Councilwoman Marsha McLean said.
McLean, who’s also mayor pro tem, said the Via Princessa station numbers were indicative of its heavy usage despite the construction of a station at the nearby Vista Canyon development.
“I very much want Via Princessa to remain a Metrolink stop,” she said.
McLean said she regularly takes the train to meetings in downtown Los Angeles, but she wants to increase the number of trains during the work day. She referred to a study initiated by Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to increase the number of trains that is expected to be completed early next year.
“This is something that needs to happen on the Antelope Valley Line,” she said.
Metrolink officials said commuting via train relieves stress and saves drivers money that would be spent on their cars. The train service includes discounts for students, seniors, active duty military and the disabled while some employers subsidize Metrolink passes for their employees.
“It’s a safe, reliable and convenient way to avoid traffic in Southern California,” said Metrolink spokesman Chris Gutierrez.
The annual cost of driving in Southern California is more than $9,000 when vehicle depreciation, fuel, repairs, insurance and parking fees are calculated, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Numerous medical studies have documented that driving in heavy traffic over time causes blood pressure and blood sugar to rise, adds inches to the waist, boosts cholesterol, causes neck and back pain, makes drivers anxious and depressed, affects sleep, cuts exercise time, hurts relationships, and work suffers. Breathing exhaust fumes from freeway traffic also is not conducive to optimum health.
“Taking Metrolink makes sense on many levels,” said USC health professor Ed Avol, who recently rode a Metrolink train down the busy I-10 Freeway during rush hours. “It helps deal with gridlock, reduces air pollution, relieves stress and anxiety and reduces personal exposure to pollution, all of which are good for your health.”
Metrolink riders also can use mobile apps to transfer free to many local bus and rail operators, such as Metro, which serves world famous museums in Exposition Park, Old Town Pasadena as well as the beach in Santa Monica.
McLean said Santa Clarita riders will be able to take the train directly to the Burbank Airport when construction of a new station there is completed early next year.