Are Little Fixes the Secret to Boosting Metro’s Ridership?

Big ticket items get all the press but convenience goes a long way

Metro is having a banner 2016; opening up extensions of the Gold Line and Expo Line. With the two projects totaling about $2 billion, there’s a lot riding on their success—but the transit agency is also hoping that small adjustments to the bus and rail system improve ridership, which has been dropping for the past few years.

The latest tinkering by Metro involves the successful Orange Line busway in the Valley. Today, Metro officials cut the ribbon on a new pedestrian entrance to the Canoga station. “The entrance, complete with ADA-compliant walkway, lighting, landscaping, TAP vending machine, TAP card validator and canopy, will directly connect several Canoga Park apartment complexes and businesses to Orange Line service,” reads a press release. “These types of connections are part of Metro’s commitment to support new transit-oriented communities on the Metro system.”

Sounds small, but the new entrance cuts a .25-mile walk down to just a few steps for hundreds of residents; that’s some good incentive to get on the bus and skip the 101.

That’s not the only smallish upgrade Metro is making. After building pedestrian walkways for the Universal City subway station, the agency is about to wrap up work on an underground tunnel connecting the North Hollywood Red and Orange line stations—this will ease transfers and make it so riders no longer have to cross scary Lankershim Boulevard.

Meanwhile in DTLA, Metro is building a new tunnel from the existing 7th/Metro station (which serves the Red, Purple, Blue, and Expo lines) directly to the renovated Bloc shopping center. No more crossing busy Seventh Street to get to Macy’s.

No one is pooh-poohing new rail lines, but by making the transit system more user-friendly via convenient entrances and walkways, Metro will better hold on to new riders and long-time patrons.