The maiden journey of the first Metrolink commuter train from Northridge took place without a hitch Monday, with commuters climbing stairs that still smelled of fresh plywood to wait under a canvas awning for morning trains.
Metrolink employees said about 100 people boarded the train at the new platform, which abuts equipment yards owned by the city Department of Water and Power at the corner of Wilbur Avenue and Parthenia Street.
Most passengers appeared to be going downtown. A few, who had boarded in outlying areas such as Moorpark and Camarillo, got off in Northridge and took shuttles to Cal State Northridge, Metrolink officials said.
The new stop in Northridge is one of seven emergency stops added to Metrolink lines since the Jan. 17 earthquake to help ease commutes, said Metrolink spokesman Peter Hidalgo. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided an emergency $63-million grant to pay for the expansion of the Metrolink system after the quake damaged several freeways.
The Northridge stop is on the Ventura County Metrolink line. Also opening Monday was the line’s current terminus at Camarillo.
The new Northridge and Camarillo stops are the last of the new emergency platforms to open.
Hidalgo said that it was too early to determine whether the number of people riding the line had increased due to the new stations. But he said that since the earthquake, the number of passengers on the line has increased from 2,300 to about 3,000 per day.
The Northridge station will serve commuters in that area for the next 12 months, said Hidalgo. After that, its fate will depend on how heavily it’s used, and whether local funds are available to continue operating it, he said.
After the quake, Metrolink usage increased by about 33% systemwide, said Hidalgo. The greatest increase was on the Santa Clarita line, where usage increased 21-fold immediately after the earthquake.
Those who rode the train from Northridge on Monday were a mixed bunch. Some were regular Metrolink riders who normally catch the train in Chatsworth. Others were new riders, who said the new station prompted them to give the trains a try.
Ann Eyster, a Northridge retiree who travels to Downtown Los Angeles for fun several times a month, came to look the new station over. Eyster said she normally travels about four miles from her home to Chatsworth. The Northridge stop, by contrast, lies less than a mile from home.
“I had no idea they were going to do this, it’s so close to the Chatsworth station,” she said. “Suits me, though.”