Metro CEO Art Leahy said Thursday he would be happy if 4,000 to 5,000 fans ride the Expo Line to Saturday's USC football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—the first Trojan gridiron contest at the venue since the line opened April 28.
Three-car trains will run every six minutes on all Metro Rail lines beginning three hours before the game against Hawaii. What Metro is dubbing as enhanced service will continue until two hours after the game against Hawaii ends, Leahy said at a news conference at USC to promote ridership.
Metro will be able to handle 100 passengers every minute, Leahy said.
Seats may not be available for all passengers on the 18- to 20-minute trip from Culver City, the Expo Line's western-most stop, to the two stations serving the Coliseum, but "if a person has to stand up to get here, it's still better than having to try to find parking," Leahy said.
The 8.6-mile Expo Line begins at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station, which is also served by the Blue, Purple and Red lines.
Similar increased service will also be provided for this season's five other Trojan home football games.
Saturday's game is the first time light rail service will be available to USC home football games since the Sept. 26, 1953 game against Minnesota, which was four days before passenger service on the Santa Monica Air Line, which ran along Exposition Boulevard, was discontinued.
Event guides wearing cardinal T-shirts with gold lettering and cardinal caps, USC's colors, will be at Metro Rail hub departure points in Culver City, Long Beach, North Hollywood and Pasadena Saturday to assist passengers, many of whom will be riding on the Metro Rail system for the first time.
"We're going to get a chance to introduce novice riders into the system and train them how to ride MTA buses and trains,'' Leahy said. "We think we're making an investment for this and all future games where it will become routine for USC fans'' to take the Expo Line to games.
"This will become as much of a tradition as Philippe's is before a Dodger game,'' Leahy said, referring to the restaurant near Union Station famed for its French dip sandwiches.
The Expo Line "provides an incredible opportunity for our fans to travel safely, quickly and efficiently to and from the Coliseum," USC Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Lopes said. "We see this as a way to bypass traffic and parking problems that fans experience" at sold-out games, Lopes said.
Saturday's game is sold out as are the games Nov. 3 against Oregon and Nov. 24 against Notre Dame.
Metro Chief Operations Officer Frank Alejandro reminder riders to look both ways before crossing the tracks, do not walk or ride bicycles while wearing headphones near tracks and obey electronic warning devices.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which provides security for the Metro Rail system, will issue citations to passengers violating traffic laws related to the Expo Line, Capt. Holly Perez said.
"We urge all of you to think of Expo for what it is—a 200-ton machine that needs respect," Perez said. "That means not running in front of a train. It can't stop on a dime. Use the crosswalks. Obey traffic lights. Follow the safety instructions from all the Metro personnel, LAPD and sheriff's department."
Each trip aboard a Metro Rail train is $1.50. A day pass, good for unlimited service on all Metro Rail and bus lines is $5.
Metro recommends passengers purchase a day pass at the station they are beginning their trip. All fares sold are on TAP cards, which can be purchased for $1 at ticket vending machines or from a Metro representative. They are ntended for reuse.
Fans with tickets on the east side of the Coliseum should exit at the Expo/USC Station, while fans with tickets on the west side should exit at the Expo/Vermont Station.
There will be similar increased service on the Metro Silver Line limited stop bus service connecting the South Bay and San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles. Its closest stop to the Coliseum is on the Harbor (110) Freeway at 37th Street, approximately two blocks north of the Coliseum.
— By Steven Herbert