Approximately 8,000 Fans Took the Expo Line to the USC – Hawai’i Game this Past Weekend.

Fans at the USC-Hawai'i game on Sept. 1. photo credit: PRK / PR Photos

The link to the original photo is here.

Did you ride the Expo Line to the USC game this past weekend? If so, you were one of what Metro estimates to be the approximately 8,000 fans who chose to train their way to the game.

Moreover, Metro calculates that at least half of those fans took other Metro buses or trains to connect with the Expo Line. Steve Hymon writes at The Source, “there were about 22,000 boardings on Metro on Saturday related to the game.”

If those figures are accurate, then about 8.5 percent of the 93,607 game attendees arrived via the Expo Line.

On a day when we’ve thrown a few eggs at Metro, it is nice to have some good news.

What is hard to know is whether or not these were riders that drove most of the way and then took transit for the last stretch. Or, whether these were riders that wouldn’t have driven to the game anyways. On game days, it is not unusual to see hordes of cardinal-and-gold clad folks downtown, walking their way south from hotels or waiting at stops for the Dash or another southward-bound bus. The Expo Line, in those cases, would be the new transit drug of choice, not the converter of car-bound fans.

That said, 8,000 riders is a high enough number that it seems plausible to think the new service has won over some fans. In order to figure it out, I’ll be speaking with Expo Line riders at the next home game (Sept. 22) to learn more about more about their transit choices.

  • ZStern

    In addition to the important question you mention at the end of your post, it is worth asking if some of these fans were ones who would have not gone to the game.  Could show transit’s ability to generate trips to certain destinations. 

    Also – 8.5 percent is a very high estimate because not everyone who goes to the campus attends the game.  I rode the expo line to campus, tailgated with friends, went to a local bar, and then rode it back home.  

  • sahra

     Thanks–I wondered about the tailgate crowd. I had asked some questions on Metro’s Source blog about data regarding where people were boarding and getting off, but didn’t get a specific answer. Timing of rides would matter, too. I guess the question to pose to you is, would you have driven to campus, or not gone at all, if you couldn’t have taken the Expo Line? Or would you have taken the bus? Thanks!

  • ZStern

     Sahra – I went because I had a friend in town who I thought would be interested.  That being said, if the Expo line was not available, I would have probably drove or gotten dropped off.

  • Mmatasc

    Add in FYF fest going on to the north of downtown LA with riders using the Gold Line to get to Union Station and you end up with a pretty happenin’ Union Station at 10 PM on a Saturday.

  • max

    I’m one of those who took the Expo Line. I would have driven and certainly would not have taken the bus. The process was marred by a 45-minute wait to get a TAP card at Culver City — when encouraging the public to take Metro to events, they really should try to avoid making everyone use the TAP machine. It is fine as a 1×1 experience, but when hundreds of new users descend on a station, the machines’ transaction time is simply too long for it to make sense. Also remember that in many cases these were families of 4 or 5, which required the adult to make 5 separate transactions rather than simply buying 5 at the same time. (There were MTA employees on site who were holding stacks of TAP cards, but they stood around talking to each other as the line snaked around the station. It would have been helpful to load them with a stack of $5 TAP cards and sell them for cash, which everyone had.)

    The verdict? I will certainly be using it again — once I actually got my card, it was convenient and better than driving to the Coliseum. However, many around us were upset by the TAP card process and said they wouldn’t be trying Metro again.

  • Most USC attendees I knew from the Westside who’d have otherwise driven decided to take the Expo line in from Culver City. MEGA improvement over fighting traffic on the 10, fighting for parking, getting gouged for parking 3 miles away, etc.

    Some aspects of the Expo experience struck me as amateur though. Only two TAP machines? Most other rail systems I’ve seen (including red line stations) seem to have 8-12. Granted, if this is a one-off purchase it’s not so bad, but there was a huge crush for cards. 

    Also, the coordination of perpendicular pedestrian traffic at the Exposition Park/USC station was… Metro employees holding stretched out chains? I understand it’s a bit of a unique situation with the station being at grade and so many pedestrians (many mildly intoxicated) probably rendering some kind of automated crossing system moot. It just struck me as odd that in 2012, a newly built rail line is crossed via nothing more than people holding chains on each side of the crosswalk. Very odd. Not to mention that the line to approach the station went through the grass. (Nothing wrong with that, just seems a little low-budget compared with the red line, which seems at least on par with rail systems anywhere else). I can’t envision Chicao’s L or Vancouver’s SkyTrain having lanes delineated by stakes connected by rope. 

    Those misgivings aside, the experience overall was a tremendous upgrade from driving. This is partially as a result of the driving experience being so impacted and awful (and so any alternative would’ve been great), but I appreciated the number of Expo trains they had running and, while I expected a crush to leave at the end of the game, we got out scott-free.

    Aside from being cheap (and perhaps this wasn’t Metro’s fault… I’m not fully versed on whatever funding politics played into the final station design), well done Metro. 

  • Rkrlaw1

    Also, Tap cards are great if you live in LA, but if you are visiting for the game and want to buy a roundtrip ticket YOU CAN’T.  It’s either 1 way or Tap.  And yes, crazy pedestrian traffic around Expo line stop after the game.  I susppect they will build a bridge over Exposition Blvd. to alleviate issues.  I did read some time back that USC wishes it had requested/paid for the station to be underground there.  It is underground just 50 feet before the station.

  • Rkrlaw1

    But all in all, a great addition to LA and USC.  I would have driven otherwise.

  • sahra

     Thanks to you and @twitter-473458412:disqus for mentioning the pedestrian and other issues. I did not attend this time around–I’ll be on the look out for these things when I check out the next home game.

  • sahra

     interesting, thanks! i’ll see what kind of feedback i can get on that from metro.

  • ACF

    Last year my wife and opted out of season tickets because we were tired of fighting traffic and paying an absurd amount to park.  This year we got season tickets and plan on taking the train to every game.  Big lesson learned on Saturday was either get to the station early or bike because there was no parking left by 2:30- 3 when we got there.  As for tailgating, we threw our beer and sandwiches in a recyclable bag and roamed around various tailgates meeting up friends and making new ones.  Much more enjoyable experience that gave us the flexibility to roam around vs camping out at our car.  As for coming home, we left a little early and it wasn’t too bad.  I can imagine if you hit the station right after the game it could get a little chaotic.  We’ve also taken the train down for the Dodgers which is surprising easy and very well coordinated with the buses at Union Station.  After a few more games I’m assuming USC/Metro will have a pretty good system down.

  • L.L

    The hubs and I took the Metro to the game. As DTLA residents, it was great not having to drive!

  • Jennilee913

    I loved using the metro to get to the game and will be using it in the future. I live only two blocks from the Vermont & Sunset station and it was great seeing a few USC fans in the station. I had no problems buying a TAP card and will be keeping mine to upload for future games and travel. $6 ($5 all day pass + $1 TAP card) was a great deal and it allowed me to drink, probably more than I should have. Cheap, convenient and safe! :)

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