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Metrolink trip report

Cuenca, Ecuador
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for California Desert
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Metrolink trip report

Hey y'all,

Thought I'd post a review on my recent adventures on the Metrolink commuter train service that runs throughout Southern California. Their Internet presence may be found at http://www.metrolinktrains.com/

First off, don't do what I did: don't purchase your travel ticket without ensuring that the travel date you desire is the one they sell you. I went to the ticket kiosk in Palmdale to purchase my ticket a day early. Bad move! They *don't* refund tickets, even ones where you made a mistake on. You need to ensure that you either purchase your ticket the "day of" travel, or *carefully* check the button selections and tell it to make the date of travel for a date in advance of your desire and choosing - one in the future - before selecting the "buy now/purchase" button. If you so much as sneeze on the "buy now" button before you have exactly what you want, you lose. Buying tickets the evening before travel does not automatically get you the next day's date printed on your ticket. You would think otherwise, but you'd be wrong. I now know the hard way.

The trains really do run on time, and are clean, modern, and well equipped. If you need to use the restroom, there's no need to fear. . . each car has one, with running water and paper. Older cars have just these features, while newer cars - some as new as 2011 - have a paper cup dispenser and water spigot on the outside of the restroom door. Very handy. Not so handy on the older cars. . . I used my trusty small plastic store water bottle to get a refill, and it was a tussle to get the water to go into the container, though it did get done. So don't expect to refill anything other than a very small water container. . . the distance from the sink faucet to the sink is not much.

Seats do not recline. They sit straight up. Some have tables - typically four to a car - and these locations typically have electric plug outlets where you may plug in a laptop computer or cell phone charger or other device. There are fabric straps to put bicycles into, as some riders ride bikes to their destination, and there are wheelchair locations where the seat lifts up out of the way near the car's entrance.

There are two (and a half) levels to each car: the bottom level, the midlevel at either end - not many seats there, though - and the upper level. The upper level is great for sightseeing and seeing where you are - recommended for tourists who need to know where they are as they travel. The Public Address system lets passengers know where they are approaching, and where they are headed to next at each stop.

Lights for each car's cabin stay on all the time. This is more obvious at night in the early morning or evening, when many people desire some shut eye time. I noticed it, but as I am a heavy sleeper, I didn't have a problem with it. Others who are light sleepers might want to bring sleeping goggles or similar.

To help passengers who desire rest and sleep while traveling, Metrolink has a "Quiet Car" system in place: the second car from the locomotive is the Quiet Car, where no talking on cell phones, etc. is allowed. In all cars, no music boom boxes, rowdy behavior, or boisterous talk is allowed. I witnessed the good behavior of passengers in this in 98 per cent of the passengers I saw. The one really "bad apple" character that looked to be cursing every half second and couldn't keep quiet got on at LA Union Station and left at the next station up at Glendale. . . so not so bad when you get down to it. Even tatooed gang member types with the shaved heads and gang talk were circumspect onboard in my travels, keeping quiet. Good show.

Union Station Los Angeles, in the Downtown LA area on Alameda Street, is the terminus of all of the Metrolink lines that emanate from it, as well as the Metro Rail subway lines such as the Red Line and the Gold Line. This is an architectural treasure of a building, and is beautiful to see on the inside, if not the outside. Restrooms, newspaper vendors, Starbucks, Subway sandwich restaurant, Famima!, and even a See's candy kiosk is there in the traveler area adjacent to the lobby. Traxx, a sit down restaurant, is in the lobby itself. Travelers who need help with their schedules will find an Amtrak readerboard of arrivals and departures. Metrolink's is just to the right of Amtrak's in the traveler area next to the main lobby. Travelers with questions may obtain help at either the Amtrak counter, or the Metrolink counter. Metrolink has several automatic ticket vending machines at this traveler's area next to the main lobby.

I checked the baggage area while there in person to see if a Metrolink passenger could leave baggage, etc. with the station agent at the baggage claim area. Not allowed for Metrolink passengers. Amtrak passengers, on the other hand, may use this service. Now you know.

Ticket prices are reduced for travel on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Ticket prices are also reduced for senior citizens and the disabled. That includes anyone holding a valid Medicare card. The disabled fare is 50 per cent of the regular fare. . . a bargain, and why I chose Metrolink for my most recent trips to Downtown Los Angeles. With gasoline prices going up, and forecast to go up through this Summer, it's good to know of a reliable alternative to using the car. I'd say Metrolink does an outstanding job for what it does. Just don't do what I did and make a mistake on buying your first ticket.

Metrolink travels as far north as Lancaster (Antelope Valley Line), as far south as Oceanside (Orange County Line), as far west as Ventura (Ventura County Line), as far east as San Bernardino (San Bernardino Line) and Riverside (Riverside Line). There is an additional 91 line that extends east to Riverside that also stops at Fullerton along the way before traveling to LA Union Station.

Thought this might be a help to travelers here using TripAdvisor. Your helpful additions and corrections - and comments - are welcomed.

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Berkeley, Ca.
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1. Re: Metrolink trip report

Underdog, thanks for the Trip Report. I've always felt that Metrolink was among the more pleasant commuter rail lines I've ridden. There's a Metrolink/Amtrak station literally across the street from Burbank Airport, so on weekdays (when Metrolink trains run there) this could be useful to people flying in or out of Burbank. As you mentioned, Metrolink (as well as Amtrak) stops at Fullerton, the main connection with Disneyland. That's too bad about the baggage for Metrolink passengers, in some ways Metrolink and Amtrak are coordinated, in other ways not.

Dallas, Texas
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2. Re: Metrolink trip report

Thanks for the info sounds like fun gotta try it when i venture out west.

Anaheim, California
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3. Re: Metrolink trip report

Also note, only Selected Amtrak Stations allow checked baggage, and the Burbank Stop is one that does not offer it.

And the "Quiet Car" on Metrolink is only offered on weekdays.

One more special car, that is offered on most Metrolink trips, and that is the Bicycle Car, where they have converted the lower level of the car from seating to bike storage.

Yucaipa, California
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for Anaheim
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4. Re: Metrolink trip report

Very good report. My two cents regarding Union Station is that is not user friendly,.especially for those used to a living in areas that move at a slower pace. It may be easier if your trip orginates there and you give yourself time to get your bearings, but arriving there and coming down from the tracks is confusing unless all you want to know is where your next train is - that is well marked. Good luck finding the ladies room! Once a sign is located, it's hard to know which way the arrow on the sign is pointing. So my advice is take advantage of the on board restrooms. If there is signage that shows the way to the lobby and restaurants, it's not that evident. I finally found the restaurants on my return trip after walking around and asking people. I only had time to go to Starbuck's since they are one of the closest to get back to the platforms and their service was fast. This location sells their pre-made sandwichs, which are tasty. I didn't get a chance to see the lobby.

One thing to remember is that, although the trains run on time, some connecting buses in some cities don't always. My trip included an unplanned hotel stay in Buena Park, thanks to the OCTA bus running very late.

Edited: 1:24 am, January 17, 2012
Berkeley, Ca.
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5. Re: Metrolink trip report

RR, Metro has acquired Union Station and is doing a new master plan for the Station and its surroundings. You should provide comments to that process, particularly on the question of wayfinding signage. I agree with you that it's rather spotty there--some things are very well marked (e.g. the Red Line subway station), others hardly marked at all.

Yucaipa, California
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for Anaheim
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6. Re: Metrolink trip report

Thank you Wanderer. I didn't know about that and I would like to give them some comments. I found a sign for the ladies room after using common sense by going past all the platform entrances to the end where there was an exit/entrance above some stairs. The sign had an arrow pointing up, but kind of sideways. It pointed towards the stairs. That didn't make sense to me because looking up through windows I could see people waiting for cars or cabs and where I was seemed like the logical place for restrooms. But I followed the sign's arrow up the stairs and walked around looking for doors for restrooms. Said to myself it's got to be down there and went back down the (long) stairs, looked around all the walls until I found it. (Three stalls only ~ which is ridiculous for such a big place). Passing the sign again, I realized the arrow was indicating it was around a curve in the wall!

Edited: 12:34 pm, January 18, 2012
Rancho Santa...
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7. Re: Metrolink trip report

Actually, I know the lady at MTA who is in charge of design. Believe me, the signage at Union Station will improve under her supervision.

Based upon your descriptions, Red, it sounds like you didn't actually enter Union Station initially, but the Transit Plaza for buses.

HTH

Anaheim, California
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8. Re: Metrolink trip report

No, sounds like RR came in on a Metrolink Train, and then when exiting the platform, entered the main corridor and went west, which is where the Transit Plaza is located. It is also one of the two entrances to the Red/Purple Lines. So that could also be part of the problem, aka better signage to which way the Main Terminal is located, and the nearest restrooms (Higher number platforms are closer to the west end, and they are adding more platforms on the west end currently). No need to go all they way down the Main Corridor to the Main Terminal if you are on the west end of the station platforms when all you need to do is use the restroom, and then catch the Red/Purple Metro lines.

My wife happens to be a smoker, and we have gone both ways when getting off a Metrolink Train at Union Station, and know the station quite well.

Yucaipa, California
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for Anaheim
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9. Re: Metrolink trip report

Darkbeer got it right. In fact, it was the first Metrolink train I ever rode ~ came in from San Bernardino and was taking another train to Buena Park, with a short period of time in between. I soon realized I should have used the on board restroom instead of enjoying the view all the way!

Edited: 9:07 pm, January 18, 2012
Rancho Santa...
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10. Re: Metrolink trip report

DB: "sounds like RR came in on a Metrolink Train, and then when exiting the platform, entered the main corridor and went west, which is where the Transit Plaza is located. It is also one of the two entrances to the Red/Purple Lines."

Yes, that is what I said.