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Rose and Blue Lose Out in Pasadena Line Make-Over

TIMES STAFF WRITER

All is not rosy in Pasadena, where light rail, once Blue, will now be Gold.

Confused? Transportation planners hope riders on a future light rail train won’t be.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to change the name of the light rail line, now under construction, that will connect downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena.

What for at least a decade of planning has been called the Pasadena Blue Line will now officially be the Gold Line.

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The reason? There already is a Blue Line, 22 miles of light rail linking downtown to Long Beach. Problem is, the Blue Line won’t connect to the Pasadena train.

The chief proponent of the change has been MTA board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Since February, Antonovich has pushed the MTA board to make the switch. He proposed calling the 13.7-mile Pasadena train the Rose Line, in honor of that city’s famed Rose Bowl and Rose Parade.

But Antonovich’s suggestion stalled like a broken float on New Year’s Day. Some thought the name would too closely identify the rail line with Pasadena, obscuring the fact that the trains--scheduled to begin running in July 2003--will make numerous stops in Los Angeles, snaking through the Chinatown, Mt. Washington and Highland Park neighborhoods.

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After working out a compromise, the board Thursday settled on the Gold Line.

MTA board members said Thursday that gold was an appropriate and dignified symbol. California is the Golden State, some reasoned. Board member and Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn added that gold miners took to the Pasadena foothills in the 1800s, searching for treasure.

The MTA board, which often goes about its meetings in a dull, officious manner, indulged in some can-you-top-this fun.

Before voting, Antonovich held up a palette of colors--the kind customers pick through at paint stores--with hues from rose to metallic to gold.

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“Which color is it?” asked Hahn, referring to the new tone for the Pasadena line.

“871.C,” responded Antonovich.

“Maybe we should call it the 871.C Gold Line,” suggested MTA Chairman John Fasana.

Transportation planner humor. On the board members went.

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One suggested that the line be changed to the Visa Gold Line; another suggested calling it Visa Platinum. Either might have been appropriate given the line’s price tag: $732 million.

Board member Don Knabe said the line should be named after UCLA, because the Bruin football team plays home games at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. But then, referring to the UCLA basketball team’s upset loss to the Pepperdine Waves on Wednesday, he said that maybe “we should call it the Wave Line.”

All jesting aside, the Pasadena Blue Line name was born out of early light rail plans that never came to fruition. In the 1980s MTA officials envisioned a Blue Line track extending all the way from Long Beach to Pasadena--shooting through downtown Los Angeles via a tunnel.

“That would have cost way too much, so it was never finalized,” said Marc Littman, the MTA spokesman.

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As for the suggestion of a Rose Line, some MTA board members worried that it might disorient riders trying to decipher maps showing light rail lines converging at Union Station downtown. One of them happens to be the Red Line.

“Rose,” Hahn said, “is just too close to red.”


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