After years of planning, the Ventura County Transportation Commission on Friday unveiled the timetable for a commuter railroad that will link the county with Los Angeles starting next month.
"Come hell or high water, Metrolink trains will be leaving Moorpark and Simi Valley for downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 26," said Mary Travis, manager of transportation programs for the commission.
For a one-way fare of $6.50, or $12 for a round-trip ticket, riders will choose from among four eastbound trains leaving the county each weekday morning and returning that night. All trips will be free the first week of operation.
Initial ridership is estimated at 3,400 one-way trips per day. The 47-mile, 84-minute ride from Moorpark to Los Angeles will include stops in Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Van Nuys, Burbank and Glendale before arriving at Los Angeles' Union Station.
"I think it's exciting," County Supervisor Susan K. Lacey, who heads the commission, said after the meeting. "I wish it went all the way to Ventura or Santa Barbara, but I think it's good that it's going as far as Moorpark and I hope people really, really use it."
"The time has come," said County Supervisor and Commissioner Vicky Howard. "I think people will ride the train. I think they'll be thrilled to death to have the choice of four trains."
Under the plan presented Friday, morning trains will leave Moorpark at 5:06, 5:51, 6:31 and 7:16. Each train will stop in Simi Valley 15 minutes later and arrive in downtown Los Angeles at 6:30, 7:15, 7:55 and 8:40, respectively.
In the evening, trains will leave Los Angeles at 4:10, 4:45, 5:30 and 6:20 and arrive back in Moorpark at 5:36, 6:11, 6:56 and 7:46.
David Solow, deputy executive director of Metrolink, said the timetables were designed to get the most use out of four trains dedicated to the Ventura County line.
Solow said that research on bus ridership indicated commuters preferred leaving home early and returning early.
Still, with the last eastbound commuter train leaving Moorpark at 7:16 a.m. and the last westbound train leaving Los Angeles at 6:20 p.m., Solow said not all riders will be able to use the system.
"With the number of trains running now, we really can't serve every need at every time," he said, adding that additional trains could be added after the service has a chance to prove its demand. "We didn't want to bite off too much at the beginning," Solow said.
Opening week celebrations are planned at each station and on the train itself, which will observe a different theme each day, including a reunion of old rail buffs on Oct. 28 and a costume party Oct. 30.
Howard said she was happy to hear that opening activities were largely being paid for by corporate sponsors and not the public. "I hope everybody is very wary of spending too much on the opening," Howard said. "I sure hope we keep a handle on the costs."
The $760-million Metrolink system, run by the five-county Southern California Regional Rail Authority, will have nine train lines linking Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties by 1995, said Metrolink spokesman Peter Hidalgo.
By the time the entire system is running, an estimated 40,000 people will take at least a one-way trip each day, Hidalgo said.
Metrolink Commuter Train Schedule
Weekdays, beginning Oct. 26.
Morning eastbound TRAIN NUMBERS 100 102 104 106 Moorpark 5:06 5:51 6:31 7:16 Simi Valley 5:21 6:06 6:46 7:31 Chatsworth 5:34 6:19 6:59 7:44 Van Nuys 5:46 6:31 7:11 7:56 Burbank 5:57 6:42 7:22 8:07 Glendale 6:05 6:50 7:30 8:15 Los Angeles 6:30 7:15 7:55 8:40
Evening westbound TRAIN NUMBERS 101 103 105 107 Los Angeles 4:10 4:45 5:30 6:20 Glendale 4:30 5:05 5:50 6:40 Burbank 4:38 5:13 5:58 6:48 Van Nuys 4:49 5:24 6:09 6:59 Chatsworth 5:01 5:36 6:21 7:11 Simi Valley 5:14 5:49 6:34 7:24 Moorpark 5:36 6:11 6:56 7:46
Source: Ventura County Transportation Commission