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Workday commuters ride Gold Line extension for first time

November 16, 2009 |  8:44 am

Officials handed out coffee to commuters riding the new Gold Line Eastside extension this morning for its first day of service during the workweek.

6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a6a66b53970b-800wi The line opened to the public Sunday with about 75,000 riders taking part in a day of free rides and festivities along the Gold Line, which now runs from East Los Angeles to Pasadena. A ticket costs commuters $1.25.

“It’s still a party here,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who was at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights this morning giving commuters free rail passes, commemorative pins and coffee.

Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy also greeted commuters.

Huizar, who represents Boyle Heights, said he wants to continue promoting the line and said mariachi musicians were playing outside the station this morning to attract attention to the new route. Huizar said he persuaded some commuters at a nearby bus stop to ride the faster extension to their destinations.

“Right now I’m standing here and more and more people are trickling in,” Huizar said at about 7:45 a.m. “They’re thrilled. One lady told me that she had been waiting for this for a long time.”

Construction began on the Gold Line Eastside extension in 2004. The six-mile route runs from Atlantic Boulevard in East L.A. to Union Station and connects with the original Gold Line, which runs from Union Station to Pasadena. The extension project cost $898 million.

“I think we’re going to see the expected 13,000 daily riders soon, but I think it’s going to take awhile for everyone to get used to it,” Huizar said.

-- Ari B. Bloomekatz

Photos: Gold Line artwork

Photo: Passengers board the eastbound Gold Line train at the Little Tokyo station. (Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times)(Larewnce K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Graphic: Map of Gold Line Eastside extension. Source: L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority