How do they do that? Rose Parade service

Rose Parade float; Photo by Josh Southwick/Metro photography

How do they do that? is a new series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

How does Metro predict the number of trains and buses required and when and where they will be needed for Rose Parade service?

Metro doesn’t have to guess how many people will take transit to the Rose Parade and game in Pasadena and where they are likely to board. As long as parade and game start times remain the same and the weather holds steady, there’s a good chance this year’s service can successfully be based on what worked last.

In addition to weather, which generally — but not always — has the good grace to be beautiful, this year holds two wild cards. Since Jan. 1, 2012 falls on a Sunday, the parade and game will be shifted to Monday, Jan. 2. So there will not be New Year’s Eve revelers taking the trains but there will be regular commuters going to work. Metro does not know if these differences will affect ridership, since the last time the parade fell on Monday rain held down attendance. No matter what the weather, Metro is preparing to carry an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 on the Gold Line for the parade and game.

Since the Gold Line opened in 2003, it has proved a popular form of transportation to both the parade and the game. Gold Line Memorial Park, Lake, Allen and Del Mar stations are all just short walks from the parade route. For the afternoon game, shuttle buses to the Rose Bowl depart from near Memorial Park Station and return there after the game.

Metro also has scheduled 18 additional buses (more can be added if crowds are larger than expected) for Jan. 2. That number includes shuttle buses to connect Metro riders arriving at the Gold Line Sierra Madre Villa Station to the float viewing area following the parade. Shuttle buses also will run to the float viewing  area this year on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

To accommodate parade goers, the Gold Line will again offer overnight service and run additional trains and more frequent service beginning at 5 a.m. Jan. 2 and continuing through 9 p.m., with trains running as frequently as every seven to eight minutes to and from Pasadena. This is in addition to overnight bus lines that normally operate 24-hour owl service and other Metro buses.

So preparing for and staffing the Rose Parade and game is a major effort. It takes about 45 employees to staff the stations for customer assistance. And extra train operators, fleet technicians, Sheriff’s Department personnel, Metro security personnel and customer service agents work together to keep crowds moving and comfortable.

Most recurring events are handled similarly but there is a constant tweaking to make sure each subsequent event runs more smoothly than the last, based on input from staff and lessons learned from the experience.