Mailbag: Metrolink could make some changes

Burbank Leader

Your May 1 editorial "Few riders on Metrolink" hit the mark when it stated that attracting new riders has proved challenging to Metrolink. Ridership is down 13% on the Ventura County line, and 6% on the Antelope Valley line, the two routes that serve Burbank. However, the same edition of your paper reported that office vacancies in Burbank had gone up from 6% to 20%, so there is some correlation caused by the recession.

Nevertheless, Metrolink has failed in many respects to tap into other segments of the huge travel market in its five-county area. The original narrow focus of the operating plan was based on Los Angeles-centric thinking. True, this is the largest single market in the region, but it should not be concentrated on to the exclusion of all the other journeys that could be made by train instead of car.

Send a reporter to Los Angeles on a weekday morning to stand on one of the freeway bridges downtown and observe the traffic; he or she will see that more cars go through downtown than take any of the exits.

But to date, Metrolink has made no effort to address the cross-town market. The Rail Passenger Assn. of California, of which I am president, proposes that Metrolink join up its four major routes that run to and from Los Angeles into two through lines that will provide for cross-town journeys, for example from Burbank to Cal State Los Angeles or UC Irvine.

The same number of trains would be used, just rescheduled to make more travel options available. This more than doubles the number of station pairs served by through train or "single seat" service.

Another market poorly addressed by Metrolink is Bob Hope Airport. The terminals are walking distance from the trains, but Metrolink does a poor job of scheduling and marketing the service. There are long intervals between trains and no service weekends or evenings.

This does not work for most travelers or even for airport workers who operate non-standard shifts. One suggestion would be to extend the existing hourly service on the San Bernardino line from Los Angeles through to the Burbank airport or Chatsworth.

Fortunately, Metrolink has just appointed a new chief executive, John Fenton, who is supported by the imaginative and energetic chairman of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Keith Millhouse of Moorpark.

We hope that these gentlemen will give Metrolink a new and more businesslike direction, and start running a service that is more responsive to the travel needs of the region.

PAUL DYSON

Burbank Editor's note: Dyson is president of the Rail Passenger Assn. of California and chairman of the Burbank Transportation Commission.

Softball team full of great athletesI've really enjoyed coverage on the success of the girls softball team at John Burroughs High School ("Cross-town shutout," May 15).

In reach of a league title for the first time in 28 years, the girls' softball team is sitting in first place, with a handful of games left to play in the regular season.

Due to an increase in my own athletic training, I've been running at least twice a week in the afternoons at Olive Park.

While at Olive Park I've observed the Burroughs girls' softball team training for this so far very successful season.

One thing is very clear: Every one of the girls on this team is a very good athlete. They can all run, and fast. They all throw the ball hard with amazing accuracy. They catch the ball with ease and grace, and they all love to hit. I don't believe that I have seen so many good athletes on a team in many years.

With the softball team at Burroughs now league champions, I wish them well.

One thing is certain, through their hard work and dedication, they have represented our city in the best possible way.

JOE HOOVEN

Burbank

Work for changes, not against themThe recent letters to the editor concerning the bike lane on Verdugo Avenue have reached a new level of selfishness.

The creed of its critics is clearly "if it inconveniences me in any way, I don't want it, even if it is good for many others."

Once again a few disgruntled residents are threatening what is a positive step in the right direction for Burbank. The recent re-striping on Verdugo Avenue to create bike lanes offers an alternative method of getting around the neighborhood other than the automobile.

It makes a street made up almost entirely of residential properties safer for walkers, bikers and even drivers thanks to the presence of not only the bike lanes, but to new turn lanes as well.

I wonder if those who are speaking out against this project have even spoken to property owners who reside on Verdugo? Or to the bikers who are just starting to use the new bike lane to get through town?

Better yet, I wonder if they realize that some of the minor traffic congestion at the peak of rush hour at intersections such as Hollywood Way and Verdugo has already started to ease and will only improve once traffic signals with better sensor equipment are installed?

If these select few, made up of mostly the same "usual suspects" of people who regularly bombard the Leader with letters to the editor and the City Council with gripe after gripe, are able to undo something as simple as the bike lane on Verdugo, it will only confirm what those in favor of progress in this city have long feared — our City Council reacts primarily to the few unhappy malcontents who will never be able to accept, let alone embrace, change.

These types of people were also against similar projects, such as the Porto's Bakery, the revamping of Burbank Boulevard and the Chandler Bike Path.

All these projects had overwhelming positive impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods, and admittedly a few small inconveniences, too.

These people are against other ideas that would bring changes to our city, such as paid parking in the downtown area, which even at a modest 25 cents an hour on San Fernando Road would bring thousands of vital revenue dollars for city programs.

To these people I ask a simple question: What exactly are you for? It is more than apparent what you are against, by my count, just about everything.

TOM CROWTHER

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