2011 was a year of growth, innovation and safety leadership for Metrolink, Southern California’s commuter rail agency and the only transportation provider that serves all five counties in the region. In 2012, as Metrolink moves into its 20th year of operation, the agency is ready to build on its accomplishments to operate the safest rail system in the US and provide more transportation options to commuters in one of the most congested regions in the nation.
2011 was a year when Metrolink solidified its role as a leader in railroad safety through leadership and inclusion. Working with stakeholders, Metrolink strengthened relationships with our customers, federal and state safety regulators, rail unions, contractors and trade associations.
“I’m proud of this agency’s improvements in safety and customer service over the past year,” said Metrolink Board Chairman Richard Katz. “Moving into 2012, Metrolink is prepared to play a more prominent role in meeting Southern California’s mobility needs by providing affordable transportation options that are safe, reliable and convenient.”
January - Metrolink started the year with new passenger rail cars (our Guardian Fleet) equipped with technology that diverts energy away from passengers in the event of an incident. The seatbacks are higher to provide enhanced safety for riders. Metrolink also partnered with San Manuel Indian Casino to offer Southern Californians free shuttles, with a Metrolink ticket, from the San Bernardino Metrolink Station to the casino. This became one of Metrolink’s most popular promotions to date.
February - Metrolink trains began traveling more quietly at crossings in Orange County, thanks to an $85 million investment by the Orange County Transportation Authority to upgrade warning devices at rail crossings. In quiet zones, no train horns are required where there are additional enhanced safety measures at the crossings.
March - Metrolink offered promotional train service to Los Angeles Dodgers’ and Anaheim Angels’ weekday home games. Metrolink also announced a safety partnership with USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering to develop a first in the nation safety-training curriculum teach the agency’s approach to safety leadership.
April - Metrolink worked with school districts to coordinate safe, affordable and reliable transportation on regularly scheduled trains to proms at Los Angeles Union Station for over 1,500 high school students on their prom night.
May - Metrolink added 16 new trains, including pilot late night service and express trains on the Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines. The express trains could save a daily commuter an hour a day or five hours a week, giving them more time to spend with their family, friends or doing the things they love. Due to the success of the Express Train pilot program, the Board approved continuing these trains as part of Metrolink’s regular service.
June - State trial court ruled in favor of Metrolink’s pioneering inward-facing camera program, supporting the initiative to enhance safety by installing cameras facing inward in locomotives.
Over 5,803 people took advantage of Metrolink’s value priced train promotional service to the U2 concert in Anaheim.
The Board of Directors approved and adopted Metrolink’s budget, which included 14% more train service and safety additions, without increasing fares for our customers.
July - Metrolink hosted a national rail safety summit in partnership with the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering. Class 1 rail carriers, rail unions, the National Safety Transportation Board, Federal Railroad Administration, California Public Utilities Commission, American Public Transportation Association, Association of American Railroads and other commuter operators, including LA Metro, Amtrak and North County Transit District participated in the two-day workshop which focused on how to “lead people safely” in the railroad industry.
In addition, Metrolink launched its new $10 Weekend Pass, added a 10% student discount, and experienced record ridership over the weekend of the I-405 closure.
Metrolink also started to relocate its customer engagement representatives onto the trains from train stations and platforms as part of its Customer On-board Assistance Team (COAT) program.
For the first time in its history, Metrolink traveled south of Oceanside into San Diego County with its summer promotional service to the horse races in Del Mar.
August - Metrolink, in partnership with the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, conducted the first-ever “Leading People Safely” two-day formal safety course. Designed specifically for Metrolink, over 50 employees and contractors participated in the course, which took place on the USC campus.
Metrolink’s plans to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) ahead of the federal mandate received a boost when the agency received $46.3 million dollars in funds to support the installation of the new rail safety technology. Metrolink will be the first commuter rail agency in the country with this life-saving technology.
September - Passengers who prefer a peaceful commute were delighted when Metrolink launched the new Quiet Cars on weekday trains across the system.
October - Metrolink introduced 10 Bike Cars into service in time for CicLAvia. Bike cars accommodate over 20 bicycles instead of two, like other rail cars. This helps public transportation users travel to the train station and from the train station to their destination, and back.
November - Metrolink wrapped the exterior of two of its new Bike Cars with shiny vinyl designs to let commuters know that there is more space for bicycles, helping solve the first-and-last-mile obstacle of public transportation. Metrolink re-launched its annual promotional Holiday Toy Express. This year, by partnering with cities to fund the initiative, Metrolink was able to increase the number of stops from last year, hosting a record number of attendees in the station communities.
December - Caltrans and Metrolink teamed up to display train travel times on electronic messaging signs on Orange County freeways, highlighting the time savings a driver can achieve by taking a train, instead of driving during peak hours.
As a result of the agency’s efforts, Metrolink ridership has grown by approximately 6% in 2011. Employee injuries have also been reduced due to the agency’s laser focus on safety.
“It has been an honor to lead such a talented staff. Our focus on people, safety, growth, quality and efficiency has led to agency-wide improvement,” said Metrolink CEO John Fenton. “We’ve built a solid foundation and will continue to grow as an agency in 2012.”