Heads Up: No Added Bicycle Capacity on Metrolink For Sunday’s CicLAvia

Metrolink has these great trains to carry lots of bikes... But don't look for them this Sunday. Image via The Source
Metrolink has these great trains to carry lots of bikes… Just don’t look for them this Sunday. Image via The Source

(Editor’s Note: Sorry to run this disappointing news announced by Metrolink, when we’re otherwise really excited about CicLAvia this Sunday. Don’t forget, though, bicycles are not required equipment. There are lots of great CicLAvia attractions located within easy walking distance from Union Station! Including a pedestrian zone in the Broadway Historic Theater area. Also, don’t forget that there are plenty of Metro rail and bus connections to the route – see this article at The Source for details. What’s the solution, readers? Should cyclists press Metrolink for better service? Should Metro press Metrolink? Can we get bike share? Host more CicLAvias? Should far-flung CicLAvia participants just drive? Let us know in the comments below.) 

Anyone who thought they will be able to take their bicycle to CicLAvia with them on Metrolink’s trains this upcoming Sunday will likely be in for an unwelcome surprise.

Metrolink has decided that they will no longer be adding bicycle cars to their trains, nor will they be adding any extra trains to their pared-down Sunday schedules despite the common knowledge that CicLAvia is a very popular event, with lots of cyclists riding Metrolink trains to attend:

The reason given is that it takes 6 weeks for trains to be reconfigured to remove the bike cars and return the sets (or “consists” in American Railroad-ese) to their normal state:

This will especially effect those who ride Metrolink in Los Angeles County, despite the fact that it is Los Angeles Metro that subsidizes over half of Metrolink’s operations.

In contrast, Metrolink does have funds to operate extra Angels Express trains to the upcoming games at Anaheim Stadium, despite the fact that the tickets for these games are 4 times as expensive than those for regular season games, with prices running over $50 each at last check.

Angels stadium capacity: 45,000.

CicLAvia reported attendance: 100,000.

CicLAvia remains free, but donations are assuredly always welcome.

My worthless and unguaranteed advice to you is put your bike in a car and drive away from Los Angeles to at least Fontana on the San Bernardino Line, Irvine on the Orange County Line and Santa Clarita on the Antelope Valley line in order to ensure bike car capacity when your train arrives. No promises though.

  • Joe Linton

    Public Agency reminder: use #hashtags to make it easier for people to find your tweets! “#CicLAvia” is where I look for info.

  • Metrolink Fail

    This is why metrolink and metro get so much flack. How hard is it to plan for an event that is clearly popular? Agencies need to get their heads out of their ass and join the 21st century. Look at a calender and plan.

  • Sirinya Matute

    Answered my own question: As I had guessed, there was a revenue source to pay for the extra runs. The Angels Express is funded through the Mobile Source Reduction Committee (MSRC) grant plus funds from LACMTA and OCTA.

    I had been discussing this with Erik over Twitter last night and brought up the likelihood that Metrolink cannot run extra service for a single event (in this case, CicLAvia) because it has finite service hours annually; where would Metrolink cut service OR come up with extra unanticipated money to pay for the extra hours? Here’s what I would tell people if they’re asking why one group of people are getting special treatment in the form of extra transit service (in the form of free, heavily discounted, extra headways around special events)–find out who’s paying for it. It’s possible and likely that the transit agency is pulling it out of its discretionary pot of hours. But when referring to sporting events, always look to see if there’s an external funder. The Yankees and the Nats pay for extra bursts of transit for their games (the Yankees had to pay per their agreement). The Dodgers’ former owner did NOT want to pay for the Express service based on reasoning I found utterly and completely offensive, so Metro found this alternative source.

    It is possible that Ciclavia already approached MSRC or other funders for help in paying for extra Metrolink service. I would consider asking very politely.

    Question – does the Angels pay extra for their additional Metrolink runs? The Nats pay WMATA for extra runs all the time.

  • davistrain

    Six weeks to switch cars around seems a bit excessive, even though Metrolink cars have extra cables to unplug and reconnect–not like freight cars where they just have to push them together and connect the air brake hoses. I suspect that Metrolink doesn’t want to (or doesn’t have the money) to bring workers in on weekends at overtime wages to shuffle the cars around. When I was a wee lad, I liked to watch the Pacific Electric Santa Anita Race Track Saturday specials go by my home in Monrovia after leaving the horseplayers in Arcadia, but at that age, logistics and payroll issues were something I had no concept of.

  • Ed Von Nordeck

    Train that carry the expanded bike space cars are noted with a bike symbol on the schedules.
    All weekend Orange County line trains carry a expanded space car.
    Two of the San Bernardino trains have them.
    No extra cars are normally operated on the Lancaster line.
    Remember that all cars have room for 2 bikes each.

  • Sirinya,

    Your answer, no matter how legit, sounds very much like the reply of a bureaucrat once again making excuses for a failure of situational awareness.

    It won’t be taken with much comfort by the many people at Baldwin Park tomorrow morning who, having already put $10 in the Ticket Vending Machine for their Metrolink Weekend Day Pass, will be told to “wait for the next train three hours later. Except I suppose this scene will be repeated not just at Baldwin Park and Covina and Pomona (North) as it was all the past CicLAvias but at all stations on the SB Line as far east as Rancho Cucamonga, and at stations on the other lines that operate on Sundays where it had never been an issue before.

    I grinned with amusement during the first CicLAvia when I observed Los Angeles Metro running one-car trains on the Gold Line before 10 am on weekends, as was their operations practice at the time, but have been aware that at all CicLAvias since 10/10/2010 Metro has made sure that three-car trains are the norm on Gold (as well as six-car trains instead of four-car trains on both branches of the subway).

    Metrolink knows this is a large event that people want to attend with bikes. Metrolink sees ridership spikes when CicLAvia happens. As a weekly rider of Sunday morning trains, I can assure you that when CicLAvia happens, Metrolink trains are much more heavily patronized. Assuming the TVMs are working (they often are not), this means more revenue, especially since weekend trains are *always* controlled for fares by the LASD.

    If there is money to take financially well-off baseball fans to playoff games…

    -and money to run early trains to the Rose Parade:

    -and money to run extra late late night trains that connect to no other Metrolink services from the privately-operated “County Fair” back to Los Angeles:


    -and money to run service on Federal Holidays on the Antelope Valley Line:


    then someone at Metrolink needs to wake up and realize that, four years after CicLAvia began, money needs to be found to run extra service to this popular event, especially if the addition of bike cars to train-sets/”consists” has been determined to be a logistical nightmare.

    Adding to the fact that Los Angeles County taxpayers, who are chipping in extra money to help Metro pay their share of Metrolink’s bill every time we shop, are going to find themselves unable to board at all Metrolink stations in Los Angeles County (with the probable exception of those in the high desert) with bicycle tomorrow, is an additional insult.

    Stop making excuses for Metrolink’s failure to anticipate and service demand. This is Transit Operations 101 stuff, any any agency which can’t respond to it four years after the fact deserves to scrutinized heavily.

  • You bring up a great point. I had not looked for the current schedule’s bike car symbols. Not only does the AV line not have any bike cars “regularly scheduled” on weekends, nor does the new service on the 91 line, which supplements OC line service from Fullerton to Los Angeles.


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