With early ridership numbers running far behind projections at Orange County’s gleaming new train station, transportation officials are hoping that the beginning of baseball season will help jump-start boardings.
Angel Stadium and the Honda Center — home to the Ducks hockey team — are next to the $188-million transportation hub in Anaheim. The Angels are making their first home stand, and train ridership often picks up during baseball season.
So far, ridership has been lagging at the county's newest transportation hub, a spaceship-like structure that opened to great fanfare four months ago.
In December, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center — ARTIC, for short — reported averages of 460 weekday boardings on Metrolink and 300 daily boardings on Amtrak, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority.
The averages include ridership numbers from the former Anaheim station before trains began picking up and dropping off passengers at ARTIC, authority spokesman Eric Carpenter wrote in an email.
The last month of the year is also typically among the slowest, he added.
“We think that ARTIC is a great public asset and we hope that now that the baseball season is underway, more people will discover the benefits of ARTIC by giving public transportation a try,” Carpenter wrote.
More recent statistics were not available from the transportation agency. The city of Anaheim was still in the process of calculating and evaluating its ridership numbers for the new stop.
Still, station planners had predicted 10,330 daily boardings at the time the station opened. Union Station in Los Angeles has about 75,000 daily boardings.
The gleaming hub advertised seamless connections between trains, buses, cars and bikes, and has been billed as a potential final destination for the high-speed rail system.
It also boasted a number of tenants, including an organic coffee roaster and a craft cocktail bar, many of which are slated to open this summer.
And the station itself, a crisscross of steel pipes that form a rounded skeleton, is an eye-catching construction, glowing Angel red at night.
But critics have noted that the hub, which was two decades in the planning, lacks the bullet train platform it is hoped to one day house.
With the start of baseball season, Angels fans will have the added incentive of a special Metrolink train service, called the Angels Express, which will drop fans at the ARTIC platform, a short walk from the stadium.
The $7 round-trip service operates for 7:05 p.m. home games on weeknights from the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station and from Union Station in Los Angeles.
It also provides service from the Riverside station for Friday night home games.
According to the Orange County Transportation Authority, more than 44,000 fans rode Angels Express last year.