OCTA Commemorates 25 Years of Metrolink Service

March 21, 2019
Local sales tax dollars for transportation make commuter rail service possible, which helps reduce freeway congestion and offers a great option for commuters and visitors

This month, Orange County is celebrating 25 years of Metrolink commuter rail, which began serving passengers in 1994 and so far has recorded more than 46.7 million boardings.

As part of festivities commemorating the anniversary, the Orange County Transportation Authority and Metrolink are offering free rides from the Anaheim (ARTIC) station to the Swallows Day Parade in San Juan Capistrano for the first 100 riders at a celebration event on Saturday, March 23.

The festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at ARTIC, 2626 E. Katella Ave. in Anaheim. The event includes free cake and Wahoo’s breakfast tacos and other giveaways to Metrolink riders.

Anybody can ride Metrolink on Saturdays or Sundays for $10 per day per rider. The train to San Juan Capistrano is scheduled to leave at 9:22 a.m. and arrives in plenty of time for the 11 a.m. Swallows Day Parade.

“The growth we’ve seen in Metrolink ridership over the past quarter century is worth celebrating,” said OCTA Chairman Tim Shaw, also a La Habra City Councilman. “By fulfilling the promises of our local sales tax measure, OCTA has helped establish Metrolink as an important option in Orange County’s public transportation system.”

During the past 25 years, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements known as Measure M has made possible strong improvements to the commuter rail system.

Highlights of those improvements include:

  • New stations in Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo and in Tustin opened in 2002
  • A new Buena Park station began serving passengers in 2007
  • The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) began serving passengers in 2014
  • Weekend service was added in 2006, allowing individuals and families to enjoy the same high level of weekday service for recreational travel on Saturdays and Sundays.

As more daily commuters have discovered the benefits of hopping on a train to reach work, school and other destinations each weekday, average daily boardings now top 10,000. Those riders save time and money on gas and car maintenance, while helping the environment by taking cars off of local freeways. More than 80 percent of Metrolink riders have cars, meaning a trip on the train takes one car off the highway.

There are now 11 stations serving Orange County. And improvements to the Metrolink station continue. This year, work is scheduled to begin on nearly 2 miles of passing siding track from Laguna Niguel to San Juan Capistrano, which will improve efficiency of passenger service along the LOSSAN rail corridor, which runs from San Diego to Los Angeles and on to San Luis Obispo.

Work is also scheduled to start later this year on improvements to the Anaheim Canyon station.