Leader Editorial: Station will help brighten airport's future

With some fanfare Friday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Bob Hope Airport-Hollywood Way Metrolink Station, which, if all goes according to plan, will be ready in 2015 to deliver passengers to the airport from the Santa Clarita, Antelope and North San Fernando valleys. Nearly $4 million in Measure R funds will pay for the new station.

This transit facility is only one piece of the puzzle that must be assembled in order to provide rail connections for all travelers — Southland residents as well as the tourists who are so key to the economic vitality of the region. More than 41 million souls visited the Los Angeles area in 2012, but a disappointingly low percentage of them traveled through the Bob Hope Airport.

For so many years a welcoming beacon for travelers, the local airport has seen a disheartening and costly slide in the number of passengers it serves annually. It didn't help that American Airlines left the facility and that JetBlue Corp. ceased daytime flights there. There are other factors, too, not the least of which has been the state of the economy since 2007.

But things are looking up a bit and steps are being taken to recapture passengers and increase the volume of travelers using the Bob Hope Airport. Its commissioners recently approved a budget that holds airline landing fees steady. This should sit far better with airlines looking at the bottom line than did last year's 21% increase in those fees. And, earlier this spring, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority inked a $327,000 marketing deal to promote travel through the local airport with fans attending Bruin games at the Rose Bowl.

We are hopeful that innovative, progressive moves will bring our airport back to life. Congratulations to all involved in planning this new Metrolink station.

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