This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register
Metrolink officials said on Wednesday, April 13, that the Southern California commuter rail agency has become the first in the U.S. to run all of its trains on 100% renewable fuel products.
“We realize that as a force of positive influence in the Southern California community, we have a responsibility to make improvements to our operating practices for the benefits of our riders and our environment,” said Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle at a Wednesday ceremony at Los Angeles’ Union Station.
The switch has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% on the seven train lines operated by the nation’s third-largest passenger rail-service provider.
Metrolink, which serves six counties, is in the midst of its biggest bounce-back from the pandemic thus far. Last week, Metrolink reinstated service on 24 of the most in-demand lines and added two new trains.
The service update includes making four Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains available to all Metrolink ticketholders, adding Saturday and Sunday service on the Ventura County Line.
In March 2020, Metrolink slashed its schedule by about 30%, responding to a 90% drop in ridership as the COVID virus took hold and stay-at-home orders took effect. But with more workers returning to their workplaces, and with gas prices at record highs, the regional commuter service has seen sharp ridership growth on weekdays and weekends, according to the agency.
According to Metrolink, the service is at about 30% of its pre-pandemic weekday ridership. The upgrades are expected to increase that percentage to about 44% by midsummer, according to the agency. Metrolink officials said the weekend ridership is already at about 70% of its pre-pandemic levels.
The upgrades being made next month are:
— 91/Perris Valley Line: Two added trains with midday service to Los Angeles and a reverse morning trip to Riverside County;
— Antelope Valley Line: Six added trains and schedule updates offering increased flexibility for weekday travel;
— Orange County Line: Two added trains offering more weekday morning service;
— Riverside Line: Four added trains offering increased flexibility for weekday travel;
— San Bernardino Line: Six added trains including later evening trains, plus new Sunday service; and
— Ventura County Line: Six added Metrolink trains including weekday morning and evening trains, plus four Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains that are now available to all Metrolink ticket holders — including on Saturday and Sundays.