Metro Making Room for Bikes on Their Trains

10_16_08_bike.jpg Just five months ago, I was repeatedly warned by Metro staff members that the agency was considering enforcing its ban on bicycles on trains during rush hour.  However, at a committee meeting earlier today, Metro completely reversed course from their rumored plans a couple of a couple of months ago and announced a pilot program to remove a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheel chairs.

The seat removal trial program, announced on pages 5 and 6 of this document, could lead to over 1,000 seats being removed from the Gold, Blue, Green, Red and Purple Lines.  Initially seats will be removed on just a few trains, but if the new spaces are used by cyclists and wheel chairs we could see the program extended system wide.  The proposed breakdown of removed seats per train line if this plan is extended system wide is as follows:

Red/Purple Lines:

  • Removal of an 2 Additional Seats per Car
  • 24 Total Seats Removed Per 6 Car Train
  • 416 Seats Removed From Fleet

Blue Line

  • Removal of an 5 Passenger Seats per Car (2 Rows)
  • 15 Total Seats Removed Per 3 Car Train
  • 345 Seats Removed From Fleet

Green Line

  • Removal of an 4 Passenger Seats per Car (2 Rows)
  • 8 Total Seats Removed Per 2 Car Train
  • 112 Seats Removed From Green Line

Gold Line

  • Removal of an 4 Passenger Seats per Car (2 Rows)
  • 8 Total Seats Removed Per 2 Car Train
  • 96 Seats Removed From Green Line

New Vehicle Fleet of 50 For Various Lines

  • 8 Total Seats Removed Per 2 Car Train
  • 100 Seats Removed From Green Line

The Metro Board will vote on this proposal at next week’s Board Meeting.  If it passes the seat removal will commence in 30 to 60 days.

Image: David Galvan/Flickr 

  • this is great news. good job metro

  • jessica

    That is great news – hurrah for the integration of bikes and transit!! Way to go Metro!

  • Why doesn’t Metro add more train cars? Why should I have to stand because someone else has a bike? That’s not fair. The rails are super crowded during rush hour. I’m totally fine with there being room for cyclist, but not at the expense of the majority of the people who take the trains and public transit. Make Metro pay not the people who take the bus and stand up all day at work.

  • Back in The Year Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Eight when the bike ban was in full effect and you had to be registered and permitted to NOT bring a bike onboard during rush hours, I was biking from Encino to the Northridge Metrolink station to get the Red Line at Union Station to Western Avenue.

    At that time, I wrote to each and every MTA boardmember lengthy letters urging the accommodation of bicycles on board. The letters were accompanied by before/after hand-drawn sketches of Red Line car interiors with two seats removed that would allow that.

    Ten years later… FINALLY!

  • If all—or at least most—bicycle riders on Metro possessed the behaviour of William Campbell (a stan-up guy, to be sure, and on the burgeoning hordes of bicyclists should aspire to be), I would have less of a problem with this stop-gap solution. Nevertheless, I still find it a poor solution to a problem that needs to be properly resolved. Previously, three people would be displaced by one person with one bike (more if the bike was large, as more and more beach cruisers and over-sized bikes are brought on board). Now there will be fewer seats despite the bad behaviour that is becoming a trend on Metro and which I have documented via video.

    Metro has always been half-assed at best when it comes to bikes. As Mr. Campbell pointed out, Metro has long ignored the problem. The paucity of bike lockers (not to mention the few that are still round being poorly designed and easy to breach) and the ridiculous rules about bikes (which were not enforced by LAPD nor now are enforced by the current crop of revenue collectors, LASD and their silly little white-shirt-wearing peons) is indicative of Metro’s action regarding bikes.
    Seeing as Metro CEO Roger Snoble makes well over a quarter million dollars annually as well as gets some enviable perks, I feel we should all tell him to work for a better solution. The trains are far too crowded as it, as well as run too infrequently (when they are not being re-scheduled for “maintenance,” or taken off-line altogether owing to Metro’s incompetence) for the relative minority of riders with bikes to be given extra space at the expense of the vast majority of those who do not take their bikes on the trains.

    This is not a solution and it will not work. When straphangers start getting bumped owing to the considerable amount of space given too many bicyclists with overly large bikes (and I see one or two every day), it will become obvious that Eric Garcetti’s ill-conceived notion is not working.

  • In my experience, a lot of working class people use the Gold Line with their bikes. This is a really good idea.

    The right of way that the Gold Line occupies used to do all sorts of things (not just people moving). Light freight cars used to make Pasadena to L.A. trips all day long.

    I know it seems far fetched, but owning a bike shop adjacent the Highland Park station, I keep thinking that an extra car that took on light freight and bicycles would be a very important amenity along this line. It would allow me to get goods to and from my store to shipping centers easily, and would give local goods sellers more options (currently the only realistic option in this area is transport of goods by automobile).

  • I think this is great, however I agree with some of BusTard’s points. I think we talked about this issue over on your blog before. I wouldn’t want to see bicycles displacing other riders, but I feel that space should be provided for bikes, which compliment train transportation by providing short distance travel with a further reach than walking. If it is a clear and obvious place where cyclists go, I think that will alleviate some of the conflict that exists currently. For example train cars in Copenhagen that have open space are clearly marked with bicycle and wheel chair symbols. If the trains are running full we should be investing in more cars to increase capacity, not discouraging potential boardings.

  • One other aspect, one which I neglected to mention and is sure to come up, is that at present many riders with bikes tend to take the space reserved for folk in wheelchairs. This is a bit of a problem that also needs to be addressed, and again, as I am not the one with a $300,000.00 salary and allowances for housing and automobile (hey, there, Roger Snoble), I am not about to offer up solutions to an agency that will not listen nor even cares.
    But it is a problem and should be included with any real solutions offered next week or thereafter.

  • Sure I’d like to see bikes supported more on the trains. I don’t want to necessarily cause a hassle for other non-bike riders though. I like the idea to add another car and make it a bike car and mark it as such clearly on the outside of the car. Oh and run the trains more often and later at night.

  • Removing seats also helps handle a crowd surge that might happen after a concert or Lakers game gets out downtown. At those hours there are few, if any, bicycles on the trains. I support this.

  • @Will — Persistence pays off!

    Great step Metro!

  • Sameer

    This is definitely a good idea. Even better would be to make one entire car on each subway train a bike+wheelchair+stander car! The light rail trains, which are typically shorter, can add a bike+wheelchair+stander car.

  • I respect people’s opinion. I just find the fact that many in the cycling community that seem often to be part of the eco movement don’t find this problematic. No one sees a problem taking away seats of people who travel lightly to reward people who need to bring lots of things on the train, because this was this is. This is people with stuff are more valuable than people without stuff and if you are part of that eco-conscious movement, if you are part of the homegrown revolution, use less gas, peak oil movement, DIY, save the roaches movement how can you think there are no problems with this?

    If you are a Republican that rides a bike, I’m not talking to you. I get it if you’re that person, but the greenie people what’s up? I guess I just want an explanation why this looks good to you when you see the red line and the blue line and the green line filled to capacity at 5pm, I mean maybe that’s it. Maybe you don’t have a job where you get off at 5pm so you don’t know. I’m not sure.

    To me what this looks like is SUV mentality in the alternative transportation movement. People who want seats taken away so they can bring their bikes are like people with big gigantic SUVs taking up parking and wasting gas. This country is amazing. LA is amazing we can’t even be environmentally friendly without f*cking it up and turning it into this ugly consumer based individual needs kind of thing.


  • Fred Camino

    Now I’m a bike rider (a republican-ish one at that, well at least definitely not a “greenie”) and while I appreciate the idea here, I agree with Browne that there’s something not right about it. The trains have clearly been getting more crowded, and any time I bring my bike on now I feel really bad and end up getting off before my stop and biking the rest of the way because I feel I’m making things very uncomfortable for others and myself. Bikes take up a large amount of room and are unwieldy in a compact space like a train car. Does this mean I think bikes should be banned from the train or that there shouldn’t be specific places for bikes on the train? No. I just think bikers like me should have to pay more for the privilege (and the cost involved in removing the seats). Just like there is a zone fare that bus riders pay for the privilege to ride an express bus that goes on the freeway, bikers should have to pay a bike fare. Why should a bike, that takes the space of 2 or 3 people on the train, get to ride for the price of 1? Bikes fares + specific bike spaces on the train = fair and awesome.

  • Lola Terrell

    Dear previous two writers. Is it better to have a SUV polluting, or making more space on a train for a bike rider. Duh! How about a solution – more trains! Comparing a bike rider wanting to put his bike on a train, has No Comparison whatsoever to an SUV owner/driver. I did Not read the article, and if the bikers have an attitude or soemthing, that is different. But obviously it’s our local government that needs to make more trains available, so that the bikes can fit on them without taking up needed seating.
    Thank you!

  • Lola,
    Please READ the article, then re-read the comments about which you whinge. I believe you will then be able to comment competently.

  • davidagalvan

    More room for bikes: good idea.

    The fact is, the bikes will be on these trains whether those seats are there or not. I’ve been on the blue and red lines near rush hour, and yes they are packed, and yes there are people with bikes riding on them as well. (I haven’t seen the “no bikes on the train between these hours” rule enforced.)

    So, since the bikes are there anyway, the only quesion is should we remove a few seats here and there to make it more possible for these bikes to not be in everyone else’s way, or not? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    And for those of you who are trying to make the argument that bringing a bike on a train is like owning an SUV. . . please. Using your bike with public transit means you don’t need to use your car, which is completely in-line with the “greenie” way of thinking: less energy use, less polution. Yes, it is bringing “extra stuff”, and bikers should make every effort to make sure their bike doesn’t get in people’s way, but comparing a bicyclist to an gas-guzzling SUV driver? Give me a break.

    Oh, and just FYI: that’s my bike in the picture that accompanies the article. It’s a 26″ wheel mountain bike that folds in half (got it new for $130 at, and it’s shown on the red line. On that very same ride, someone with a full-sized bike got on the train, and had to move his bike every time someone was getting on or off, to get out of their way. My folding bike sat neatly out of the way. I recognize that not everyone can afford to just go out and get a new bike just so it folds, but there’s some food for thought.

  • Johnny W

    what about stinky-ass shithead bums who bring their nasty trappings on the train straddling 3 seats.
    Get rid of the hobos then talk about bikes!

  • Save the Roaches Front

    I’m having a hard time seeing the backlash a couple of people are having on this thread. First of all, imho, by removing the seats it is correcting a design and implementation flaw in the system to begin with. There should have been bicycles accommodations on the trains to begin with. So really it’s taking back what is rightfully ours. Sure passengers with bikes take up more room than a passenger, but if you start charging for carry-ons such as bikes, why not strollers? Why not the person coming from the airport/train station? I just saw yesterday a guy take up three seats that was coming from Union Station. Tell me who’s the bigger “SUV”? How bout fat people? Let’s charge them triple cause we got to watch them on the train the whole way! Why stop there? Let’s charge stinky people!

    And who’s to say the seats that are taken out are not the “seats” the bike rider uses? I would argue that it could INCREASE capacity by taking seats out. 3-4 bikes would take the space of two seats if they were hung up and the cyclist can stand. Net result is a 1-2 passenger increase per space. There would be an increase in capacity since not all trains may have bikes on them. So more people are able to pack in standing.

    At this point we need more reasons for people to ditch their cars and ride the Metro with their bikes, not less.

    I might also add, go see how other countries are doing it successfully. This is not rocket science. There are countless example of cities moving their peeps around successfully and at a fraction of the energy use this country uses.

  • I just got back from a trip to NYC, and I noticed some differences in the train car seating layout there. I took various NY MTA lines, and the PATH train to New Jersey, and none of these trains had as many seats on them as LA MTA trains, and had significantly increased rider capacity as a result.

  • Sam


    My name is Sam, I am a 4th grade student in Los Angeles.

    I am on a team competing in FIRST LEGO League, which promotes science and technology for kids. This year’s theme is Climate Connections, and our team chose to study the connections between rising temperatures and car emissions in Los Angeles. Did you know that these two things both affect each other?

    Our team needed to think of a creative solution for our topic. We found that a lot of car emissions come from people who drive a long distance to work every day, such as from Palmdale or Riverside to the downtown area. These areas have commuter trains called MetroLink, and our idea is to add a rail car for bikes only. This would encourage more people to leave the car at home, and get to work with bike and train.

    We were surprised to learn that MetroLink has room for only 2 bikes per train car. The other LA train system is a subway called Metro that travels shorter distances. Metro is adding bike lockers at some stations, but this means you have to buy two bikes if you really want to stop driving the car to work.

    In LA and other cities, train companies do not want to remove more seats to make room for bikes, because it would reduce their income. Passenger train cars are expensive and take a long time to get. So our idea is to take older rail cars that were used for something else, and make some changes to allow bike racks and ramps to get on and off. After parking your bike in this rail car you just go sit down in a regular passenger car. Adding these simple rail cars to the commuter train would not reduce income, and might even sell more tickets from all the people that could now take their bike to work.

    We made several designs of rail cars that could hold between 34 and 80 bikes. We estimate that each bikes-only rail car could reduce 408 to 960 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, if these commuters stopped driving 60 miles each way. This is based on 0.8 pounds of CO2 per mile driven.

    We also researched to see if other parts of the world have tried this idea. Some cities in the US are adding more room for bikes by taking out seats, but this is going slow. Some cities in Europe have taken out most or all of the seats, with people standing next to the bikes, but this was on subways and different than our topic of long distance commuters.

    If you have read all this, thank you very much, because another one of our assignments was to share our project with people who might be interested. Internet blogs are a good way for our team to try and share our work with a lot of people. Hopefully you like our idea, and please wish us luck in our competition. If you want to see us compete we will be at Magic Mountain, November 16, 2008 at 9:00 am.


  • Julia S. Russell

    I’m an older person that has been car-free for the past 20 years and so I ride public transit often.

    If our overall goal is to encourage as many people as possible to get out of their cars and use public transit, it seems to me we need to make the ride as pleasant as possible. Packing people into trains and buses where they have to stand cheek by jowl with strangers is not the way to entice people out of their cars! So, that option should be taken off the table right away.

    For the same reason, removing seats from trains does not improve the quality of the ride experience. Sitting comfortably on a train or bus is a fundamental aspect of a positive travel experience.

    I’m also a bike rider and want to see bike riding facilitated in every way possible. Wouldn’t it be simpler and easier for bike riders as well as other transit riders if there were special cars for bikes along the lines suggested by Sam and some other writers?

    Let’s not degrade the overall quality of the public transit experience by focusing only on getting as many people as possible from here to there. Let’s also aim to make the trip itself enjoyable for all.

    As my Mother used to say, “This moment, too, is part of eternity.”


  • Great job Sam! That sounds like quite an impressive project, especially since you’re doing it in 4th grade!

    Regarding having a special car just for bikes: I think that’s an ok solution as well. I still think the BEST solution is for people to use folding bikes.


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