September 17, 2008
Ventura County Transit Systems Rushed to Assist Metrolink Passengers
Several Ventura County transit systems joined transit agencies from Los Angeles County on Friday, September 12, 2008 to provide emergency transportation for Metrolink passengers stranded by the tragic accident that closed Metrolink’s Ventura County line just north of the Chatsworth Station. Under an existing mutual aid pact between Metrolink and transit operators in all five counties served by the commuter rail system, local buses are provided when needed to act as a “bus bridge” around closed sections of track.
Steve Brown, director of planning & marketing for Gold Coast Transit which serves western Ventura County, said that VISTA, Simi Valley Transit and Gold Coast Transit all sent buses to the San Fernando Valley on Friday evening to assist with transporting passengers between the Van Nuys, Northridge, Chatsworth, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard, and Montalvo Metrolink stations.
The bus bridge implemented on Friday evening also utilized buses from LA Metro and Amtrak as passengers on six trains from LA Union Station via Glendale and Burbank were impacted by the rail closure. Brown said the stranded rail passengers were very understanding and patient with the delays caused by the accident and were grateful to arrive home, although late, after the buses navigated past closed intersections and freeway on-ramps, and emergency personnel working at and around the accident scene. The last train from Union Station arrived at the Van Nuys station shortly after 7:00 PM and all passengers were back in stations as far west as Oxnard by about 10:00 PM.
Brown led three GCT buses into Los Angeles County to get Metrolink riders back to their home stations throughout Ventura County. The buses crossed the San Fernando Valley on surface streets and then took the 118 freeway to Simi Valley and Moorpark, a trip that took about 2.5 hours.
“We at Gold Coast Transit, along with Simi Valley Transit and VISTA are happy we could play a small role in helping Metrolink passengers in the very stressful period following the rail collision,” said Deborah Linehan, GCT’s general manager.
Linehan noted that mutual aid pacts are common among U.S. transit systems and designed to ensure that rides are available for transit passengers when normal service is disrupted due to accidents, railway and road closures, and natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes.
Gold Coast Transit is a joint powers agency of the Cities of Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura and Ventura County. GCT operates 17 bus routes and paratransit service for seniors and people with disabilities, in 91 square miles of western Ventura County.