The Eastside Extension to the Metro Gold Line opened on Sunday to a LOT of fan fare. Juan and I were one of the 70,000 + people who checked out the festivities along the eight-stop extension. We actually went first to Chinatown to sample some dim sum, then trekked to Union Station, where we got off at several stations along the route to check things out.
Metro did a fantastic job preparing its staff to serve as ambassadors and authorizing its staff to implement crowd control strategies. For instance, our return to Union Station via the Mariachi Plaza was slightly delayed, as Metro staff and security crew held us and probably two dozen other people up by the fare gates until the passengers waiting downstairs for trains departed. SMART!
Juan and I walked between the distance along 1st Street between Soto Station and Indiana Station in Boyle Heights. I suspect that the areas along the Eastside Extension will be the next to "gentrify", as the light rail line provides accessibility to the rest of the city and the housing stock - which includes many California bungalows and large boarding houses with intricate details - might be very appealing to the upwardly mobile.
As part of the mini-adventure, Juan and I got agua de limon from El Mercado, which was so darn sweet that it induced dehydration and a headache. But before the headaches kicked in, we also stopped by Mariachi Plaza. There was a huge street fair underway; I was able to get my Metro Gold Line swag (thankyouverymuch); and we listened to Jose Huizar make some comments. We also got tacos from Jim's. (In actuality, the tacos were nothing special - stuff thrown together haphazardly in a fast-food joint setting. I'll get back to you on the pastrami next time.)
The following day, I went on a VIP tour of the Eastside Extension, but I've had enough blogging for now so I'll save that for another day.
Ridership on the extension is expected to average 13,000 a day during the week. Here's hoping to the successful - and safe - launch of the newest extension of Metro Rail!