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Metrolink Plans 6 Trains to Transport Fair-Goers : Festival: Commuter rail cars will take special routes. Ridership will help experts gauge interest in regular weekend service.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Residents planning to party at the Ventura County Fair later this month can bypass traffic and parking woes and cruise to the festival hassle-free by joining hundreds of other fair-goers on special fair-bound trains.

For the second year in a row, the Metrolink commuter trains that normally run between Oxnard and Downtown Los Angeles will change course to take residents to the fairgrounds in Ventura.

“We’re delighted to be able to bring people in and not congest the road and parking lots,” fair spokeswoman Teri Raley said. “It’s efficient, fast and fun, and everybody who rode it last year had a blast.”

Last year’s service was so popular that Metrolink had to add extra trains to handle the heavy passenger loads. This year, Metrolink is upping the number of trains each day from four to six, including a late-night train for fair-goers who linger for the fireworks.

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“The response last August was overwhelming,” Metrolink spokesman Peter Hidalgo said. “We’re expecting an even bigger turnout this year.”

Service last summer cost about $39,000, attracted about 35,000 riders and turned a profit of more than $8,000. The profits were spent for Metrolink advertisements and promotions.

Raley said Metrolink helped boost fair attendance last summer, a trend she believes will continue. About 274,000 people attended the 1993 fair.

“Metrolink removes the hassle of driving and parking and makes the fair a more pleasant experience,” she said. “This year even more people know about the train, so we’re really expecting a big turnout.”

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The special Metrolink service may also help transportation experts gauge whether there is interest in running regular weekend trains, possibly to Downtown Los Angeles.

“Within the next year or so we’re planning to look closely at the possibility of running regular weekend service,” Hidalgo said. “This might give us an indication of the kind of a response we would get.”

The Metrolink fair service will be offered on two weekends, Aug. 20-21 and Aug. 27-28, with stops in Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard before reaching the fairgrounds in Ventura.

The round-trip cost will be $6 per person from Simi Valley and Moorpark; $4 from Camarillo and Oxnard. Children younger than 5 and passengers with Metrolink monthly passes can ride free. All stations are wheelchair-accessible.

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Tickets can be purchased in advance at city halls in Simi Valley, Moorpark and Camarillo or by calling (800) 438-1112.

For fair-goers who are planning ahead, the Fair Board is offering a combined ticket good for both the train and the fair. These tickets range from $10 to $12 for adults and $7 to $9 for children, and must be purchased by Aug. 12. Call 648-3376 for more information. A mail-in coupon will be available in Sunday’s Times.


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