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35 Million and Counting

Geri Pavia of Simi Valley is a winner--and soon every resident of Ventura and the Ojai Valley will be winners too.

Pavia, a 41-year-old accountant and mother of three, last week was declared the 35 millionth rider of the seven-year-old Metrolink regional commuter transit system. As she boarded a train Tuesday for her daily commute from the Simi Valley station to her job in downtown Los Angeles, Metrolink officials presented her with a pass for seven months of free commuter service plus sweatshirts, T-shirts, caps and mugs with the Metrolink logo.

West County residents won’t collect all that loot but they’re about to get easier access to Metrolink’s trains. The Ventura City Council is finalizing plans to build a station in Montalvo, near the intersection of Victoria Avenue and the Ventura Freeway. Although empty trains are stored overnight at this location, so far the westernmost pickup point has been in Oxnard.

We applaud Ventura for belatedly getting on board this important regional system. Commuter rail travel is not the entire solution to growing problems of traffic congestion, air pollution, highway stress and airport access but it is an important part. It is smart for the city to add Metrolink’s easy access to eastern Ventura County, the San Fernando Valley, Burbank Airport and downtown Los Angeles to the list of conveniences it offers its residents.

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Metrolink began in 1992 with a daily ridership of 2,500. Today, the system’s six lines traverse six counties, 46 stations and 416 miles of track, with 130 trains a day carrying an average of almost 29,000 passengers. Each summer special trains carry thousands more to the Ventura County Fair. Ventura County stops include Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard.

The Montalvo station will be a good start. In time, Ventura should also consider a downtown transit center similar to Oxnard’s, which brings together Amtrak, South Coast Area Transit (SCAT) buses, Greyhound and Metrolink. Metrolink should press on to connect with Santa Barbara.

But there is time for that. Many public transit efforts have flopped because they tried to do too much, too fast. We congratulate Metrolink on its slow but steady growth--and we encourage Ventura County residents to take advantage of its coming expansion here.


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