Metrolink to offer express service on Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines

Some very good news emerged from the Metrolink Board of Directors meeting on Friday: the commuter rail agency in early May will begin a pilot program of adding one express train in each direction on the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines — its two busiest.

Each train will make a limited number of stops. According to Metro CEO Art Leahy’s email to staff, the San Bernardino service will originate in San Bernardino at 5:45 a.m and arrive at Union Station at 6:45 a.m. and stop at Rancho Cucamonga and Covina, a savings of about 30 minutes. A reverse trip will leave Union Station at 5:18 p.m. The Antelope Valley service will originate in Palmdale at 5:37 a.m., stop at Santa Clarita and downtown Burbank and arrive at Union Station at 7:05 a.m., a savings of about 35 minutes. A reverse trip will leave Union Station at 5:25 p.m.

What do you think? Will this be helpful for your commute? Please leave a comment. Here is the press release from Metrolink:

Los Angeles – Today, the Metrolink Board of Directors approved a new express train pilot program on its Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines to debut on May 9. Express trains make very few stops, significantly reducing the time of the commute.

“This is great news for our customers and Metrolink,” said Board Chairman Richard Katz. “By reducing the number of stops, commuters will save an hour on each round trip. This translates to 5 hours a week and 20 hours a month. That’s valuable time they can give back to their family and friends.”

The express trains will launch on Monday, May 9. The San Bernardino Line currently has 13 stops. The San Bernardino express train will make only four stops – San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Covina and Los Angeles Union Station. The Antelope Valley line currently has 11 stops. The Antelope Valley express train will also make four stops – at Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Downtown Burbank and Los Angeles Union Station. If the pilot program is successful, Metrolink will consider continuing the express service.

“In addition to saving our customers time, we hope to attract new commuters who appreciate the time savings and convenience, especially in the face of rising gas prices,” said Metrolink Board Vice Chairman and San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris.

“Express service on Metrolink transforms transit options for our County commuters,” said board member and Los Angeles County Supervisor, Michael Antonovich. “On the San Bernardino Line, this new service eliminates 22 minutes and three stops from the roundtrip between Covina and Union Station, saving commuters nearly two hours a week, eight hours a month and almost four days a year in travel time.

“The Antelope Valley service will eliminate 32 minutes each way and Santa Clarita Valley commuters will save 15 minutes each way to and from Union Station,” said Antonovich.  “Eliminating nine stops, the Antelope Valley express train will make just make two stops between Palmdale and Los Angeles Union Station – at the Santa Clarita Valley and Downtown Burbank stations.”

Metrolink’s two busiest lines were chosen for the first express trains. The express trains’ stops were chosen based on ridership, available parking at the stations and location on the line. Metrolink customers along these lines may not be accustomed to Metrolink trains not stopping at every station.

“While these express trains offer significant value to commuters, safety remains our top consideration,” said Metrolink CEO John Fenton. “Our staff will be working diligently to communicate that the express trains will not be stopping at every station and they should heed warning devices that signal a train is approaching.”


Metrolink is Southern California’s regional commuter rail service in its 18th year of operations. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network.

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17 replies

  1. When taking the Gold Line back I cannot use my unpunched 10 trip ticket. I am forced to buy a Metro ticket even though I should be able to ride for free (transfer). Please adopt a method to let 10 trippers have a ride on Metro before validating.

  2. I think its fantastic! Hopefully it will be so successful that more express trains can be added to the schedule. The morning train from AV is a little early for me, but the afternoon train from Union is perfect!

  3. I normally take either the 5:51 or the 6:11 am train out of Rancho to LA; these arrive downtown by 7:00 or 7:20, respectively.

    The SB Express will leave Rancho at 5:59 and get downtown at 6:45–a little bit earlier than I need to be. But maybe I can have breakfast downtown, before transferring to the Blue Line.

    Coming back, the express leaves too early for me. I normally don’t make it back downtown until a little before 6 pm, just in time to grab the 6:00 train back to Rancho…

    But I hope this express works well, if so, maybe Metrolink will add more express trips….

  4. “And why is train service so poor on the Ventura Line. No weekend service?”

    Amtrak provides weekend service on that route.

    But again, it’s a matter of 1) convincing the public that train service is worthy of subsidy or 2) convincing the public that the fare is worth it.

    Metrolink is slowly but surely experimenting with new service options. They have had great success with their holiday trains on the Fourth of July, for example, in some cases outperforming peak hour service. They have experimented with day passes and special group tickets. Now they are going to see how express service does. You’ll also see late night trains for Dodger games soon.

    Metrolink is also very receptive to the Union Station run-through tracks project, which would increase efficiency and capacity at the iconic station.

    This John Fenton is a heck of a lot more involved than previous Metrolink CEOs. He is very receptive to feedback and is fighting for funding for all of these new ideas, even in a terrible economic climate where many factors are simply outside of the agency’s control.

  5. Lots of cynical comments here so I won’t add to that noise. I lived in a city that had excellent commuter service into the city so I have some knowledge about this topic. Metro North Commuter, which servers northern NY city burbs and CT has a pretty good system that you should look at. It is called zone express. All your stations are grouped into several zones. Then at peak hours, trains are all express and serve only one zone. Trains farthest out start first, stopping in the 2 or 3 stations in their zone and then express into the city. Trains in the next zone would service the 2 or 3 stations in that zone and express in and so forth until all the zones were covered. Then repeat until rush hour ends. Unfortunately, LA does not have the volume of train service to adopt the model fully, but they could make a start. Just my 2 cents.
    And why is train service so poor on the Ventura Line. No weekend service? Train frequency throughout the day is miserable. Glad to see you picked up NJ Transit rolling stock. Now let’s pick up some NJ Transit frequency and speed.

  6. Metrolink does need to run more trains more often though if it is to gain more ridership. It needs to be more like chicago’s METRA system which has much more frequent and regular trains that run into the night. No wonder it has such high ridership. And yes it is a matter of funding, a matter of where we put our funding. Instead of building more highway projects and encouraging more traffic, lets actually put some of those funds into metrolink and actually make it a true robust commuter rail network.

  7. Relative to Metrolink, Amtrak is a kind of quasi-express service on the OC Line. Plus you are dealing with BNSF between LA and Fullerton. Metrolink has more control over the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino Lines.

    “all I know is Metrolink refuses to get on board with the TAP system”

    Why should they have to incur that expense? It isn’t Metrolink’s fault that Metro put up unnecessary and costly fare gates that make transfers an issue.

  8. I’m surprised that the Orange County line wasn’t chosen as part of the pilot project. I would have thought an Irvine-Anaheim-Fullerton-Union Station route would have saved quite a bit of time. Track usage by other trains (e.g., Amtrak and Burlington freight) may have been an issue. RE: the Gold Line. The small time savings ultimately didn’t justify cutting back on other trains. The Metrolink experiment, apparently, adds trains rather than replacing them and seems to save a significant amount of travel time. That said, the issue of more frequency vs. express trains is worth debating.

  9. We’ll see, that’d be great if they’re just adding the express trains and not taking any out.

    “…and Fenton is turning out to be a great CEO.” Don’t know about that one, all I know is Metrolink refuses to get on board with the TAP system even though many of its passengers have to transfer to Metro & other carriers who do use the system. Why?

  10. “I wish Metrolink would evaluate running more trains at a decent frequency of service.”

    You can either advocate for a higher fare or advocate for a higher public subsidy for Metrolink.

    If you want more trains, it’s a matter of funding.

  11. I’m a graduate student and I ride three days a week from AV to LA then on to Claremont. This really wont help me at all since I ride the 3:50am from AV and roughly the same time back.

    I agree with the other poster. More trains would be better…because then I could make up that I spend waiting for trains.

    One would think since it’s an express I could ride the later train and get there in time, but if I rode the express in I would miss my train in time for classes.

    So I’d much rather see more frequent trains…my classes start at 9am and I get on the train at 4am to get there 2 hours early because the later train get’s me to Claremont right at 9am…go figure.

    And don’t get me started about my train ride back…either way I spend 7 hours on the train three days a week…at least I’m a student and can sleep or do schoolwork.

    Good luck Metro Link…your going to need it : ) that being said I do appreciate not having to drive…even if the schedule sucks.

    Can’t please all of the people all of the time…

  12. I wish Metrolink would evaluate running more trains at a decent frequency of service. The worst thing about using Metrolink is if you miss a train the wait for the next one can be a matter of *hours*. I missed the train around 11:30 from Burbank Airport once and ended up taking the MTA buses home because the next train wasn’t until 3 PM. Being fast is nice, but being flexible would be nicer.

  13. They are adding the express trains, not replacing other trains.

    This is a pilot project. They’ll evaluate it and then go from there. This is a great development and Fenton is turning out to be a great CEO.

  14. They tried it on the Gold Line and that was a failure. It may make your travel time faster if you’re the lucky few who can catch it at those stations at those times. Otherwise most passengers will end up waiting longer for the regular trains. What they don’t tell you is which trains they’ll cancel to be able to do this. An express train is not like an express bus that can drive around a local bus because the trains share a track.

  15. I am very excited to read this. A more direct route between SB and LA will be great, and just in time as ridership will probably increase with the rising gas prices. I think the 2 stops at Covina and Rancho are the right choices, being that a large number of people exit at these stops.

  16. Great, now the already crowded Covina station will be even worse. Also, the express concept will only work if Metrolink manages to keep the trains on time and the express train is not blocked by some “mechanical failure” of another train. Finally, why run the express train that early? The crowded Covina times seem to be between 7-9 am, so why will the train be coming through far earlier?