My long-weekend in Los Angeles consisted of doing as much of Metrolink as I could using their new $10 weekend pass in particular. I had also thought about doing a station to station of the Orange Line Transitway (a bus line that runs almost entirely in its own transitway with quite genuine station platforms that even have POP zones in them). As always commuter rail took a lot longer than I thought it would so I ended up basically only doing Metrolink, I have photographed the entire Metrorail system on previous (still unreleased) visits to California, but thought about riding the bus along the soon to be open expo line, guess I’ll just have to wait for it too actually open on my next visit (probably a wedding in June 2013).
On Friday my first goal was to photograph my remaining three Metrolink/Pacific Surfliner Stations, all hard to get between in Ventura County. I might have bought another multi-city Amtrak ticket but Moorpark and Camarillo only receive spotty Amtrak service (not all trains stop at each), and Metrolink makes just three peak direction peak hour trips northwest of Moorpark. I instead had to rely on VISTA, Ventura Counties intercity bus system, one of the strangest services I’ve ever used running This meant I was on one of just two round-trips per rush hour VISTA bus Con – Connection buses from the Worner Center to begin my day out to the Camarillo Metrolink Station. I got there by walking to the Orange Line from where I am staying in Valley Village. There I had a little less than an hour at the simple two platforms, two tracks station before taking the VISTA 101 bus back to the Thousands Oaks Transit Center (more of a park and ride lot with a building in the middle of nowhere) and transferring to the East County VISTA ($1.25 with a transfer) up to Moorpark Station for a photo essay of that station and waiting another 50 minutes for the next East County VISTA bus to take me to Simi Valley. This bus unfortunately ended at a mall 6 miles from the train station and I just missed the next connecting local bus to get me there (my hope was to catch a Metrolink train from there to a hard to reach stop like Industry, a maybe $12 ticket, its over $10 to Union Station), so I grabbed a snack in the awful outdoor food court before the next bus came a half-hour later into town. I took this to the train station and started my photo essay planning to take another Simi Valley Bus Route C that runs down to Chatsworth and back to LA County. Unfortunately I misread the schedule and saw the bus scream by while I was off in the distance doing my photo essay. The next bus wasn’t for over an hour and the next Metrolink train was even later so I poked around and waited before riding down the 118 on bus route C down to Chatsworth where I arrived around 5pm. I opened my phone and noticed that the next bus down to the Orange Line wasn’t for 45 minutes so I added to my collection for Chatsworth, including of a new bridge that will carry the Orange Line to its extended terminus at the train station, and took a local bus down to it with darkness falling ending my day. I rode the Orange Line bus back to North Hollywood and took the Red Line and started making a few photo stops at Universal City and Hollywood/Highland. There I got pictures of the one entrance along closed Hollywood Blvd where additional tents for the Acadamy Awards on Sundway were being set up. I also started walking into the Kodak theater on the plastic covered red carpet by the collonade of oscar statues all draped in plastic, many with signs saying heavy on them. I then made a quick round-trip to Union Station to pick up my $10 Metrolink Weekend pass.
Saturday was my day to ride and photograph the rural Antelope Valley Line. It started off with a bus ride over to the Downtown Burbank station, using the EZ-Transit Pass included in my $10 Metrolink weekend ticket where I got a few more photos before my 9:12 train that I took (slowly over the passes) to extremely rural Vincent Grade/Action, a station that has been designed to look like a rural western town. After an hour there I double-backed the 35 minutes to Via Princessa where I took the 12:54 northbound train to Lancaster that arrived as I hoped an expected ten minutes early at 2:00. At 2:15 I took AVTA Bus Route #1 down to the Palmdale Metrolink Station where I got a yelling at from a Public Safety officer who told me I needed permission from the City of Palmdale to take pictures of their transit center. This was after I had gotten my entire photo essay anyway and I wasn’t in a mood to challenge him so I just wanted for the 3:24 train back south to Newhall, from there I double-backed to Santa Clarita happy I had finished the entire Antelope Valley Line (I did a bus trip to photograph it within the city of LA). The next train wasn’t until 7:35 but I found a Santa Clarita Transit Express Bus back to North Hollywood paying $1.50 (my Metrolink pass only covered a buck) where I rode the 183 on my Metrolink pass back to where I was staying.
Sunday was the day to try and get as much as the San Burnandino Line and I managed to get all but 4 stations, the four I didn’t get easily accessable via the Silver Line and Silver Streak buses, so they will have to wait for next time. I began by taking the Red Line to Union Station arriving at 8:55 where I got a bit confused trying to board my 9:00 Metrolink train. Only a few of the doors where open with security guards stationed checking everyone who was boarding tickets. This is a terrible waste of POP since anyone who saw this situation and did not have a ticket could just go downstairs and buy one before boarding the train. My weekend pass is accepted and I board taking the train out to Baldwin Park. I hopped on a local bus then to Covina where I boarded the next hours train to San Bernadino. There the large historic depot was closed (and no hours posted for when it is ever open, although Amtrak’s website claims it is open, unstaffed for an hour around the departure time of the Southwest Chief) and I did a photo essay before riding back one stop to Rialto and taking Omnitrans Bus Route #15 to Fontana on my Metrolink ticket. I got on the next train to Upland before doubling back to Rancho Cucamonga. At that point it was 3:00 and I knew that a bit south along the UP Line (not used by Metrolink) the triweekly Sunset Limited would be passing around 4:00, something I wanted to photograph. I then walked down to Ontario Mills Mall and caught Omnitrains route 61 west hopping off at a grade crossing near the Airport since I realized I wouldn’t make it all the way to the Ontario Station in time. I saw the lights of the train and got off to get my photos of it screaming buy and boarded the next 61 bus 15 minutes later. I got on and showed the driver my Metrolink ticket which he wouldn’t accept telling me that it was only valid to and from a Metrolink Station, I apologized and explained I thought the fare policy was like LA’s where the pass is like a day pass and he reluctantly let me on. I took this bus to downtown Ontario where I did a photo essay of the Amtrak only station that also serves some thruway buses up to Bakersfield. I got back on the 61 with my Metrolink pass telling the driver I was going all the way to the terminus at the downtown Pamona Metrolink Station (although it lacks weekend service) which she accepted. I always pay my bus fare normally but Omnitrans policy differing so much from LA’s was really bothering me and I still only had a $20 bill in my wallet. I got off at Downtown Pamona where the waiting room is only open during the week as the Foothill Transit Store and got a photo essay of that station. I then took a Foothill Transit Bus (that accepted my weekend pass no questions asked) up to Pomona North and just had enough evening light for a photo essay before graphing some food at a greasy Farmer Boys Restaurant (I liked the name, it was the only place around, and I had never gone to one before, don’t know if I’ll be back). I tried to pick up my Amtrak tickets for tomorrow up to San Francisco but the Metrolink Machine is only able to print 3 out of the 5 tickets on the old blue ticket stock before giving up and printing an error brochure telling me to call Amtrak, visit the nearest staffed station, or mail everything to Philadelphia for a refund, before taking the last inbound 7:14 train into Union Station. I get to Union Station and go to the ticket office where I hand over my four documents and it takes him and another agent a good twenty minutes to figure out how to reprint them. Unfortunately I get a new stack of five tickets issued and don’t get to keep any new blue ticket stubs for my collection. I take the red line back to North Hollywood and the bus back to where I am staying for a final night.