The Point: More riders use Metrolink to see Riverside’s iconic light displays during final weekend of special train service

Metrolink operated its final special trains for the year to the Festival of Lights at Riverside’s Mission Inn Hotel and Spa on December 15. The special service included stops throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties during the past four weekends.

Funded by the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, the Riverside County Transportation Commission, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Orange County Transportation Authority, the special trains reduce traffic on roadways across southern California.

Trains operated on the Riverside Line, Inland Empire-Orange County Line and 91/Perris Valley Line on Fridays and Saturdays, including the opening night on November 23. The 91/Perris Valley Line typically does not operate on weekends, so this gave riders from the Perris area a special chance to ride Metrolink.

Total ridership along the Riverside Line, Inland Empire-Orange County Line and 91/Perris Valley Line was 3,150 on December 14 and 15, a 24 percent increase over the previous weekends. However, total ridership for the 2018 special train service was 10,222, a slight decrease from 2017.

Throughout the four weekends, Metrolink trains and Riverside Transit Agency shuttles operated smoothly, and passengers appreciated the new schedule, which included the option of an earlier return train this year.  Adults paid just $7 roundtrip and could bring up to three children at no charge, making this a fun, economical way to travel to the festivities.

On December 7, visitors to the Riverside-Downtown Station also had the opportunity to take part in Illuminate Riverside, a festive, lighted, 10-minute guided walk from the station to the Festival of Lights. Participants experienced temporary street improvements along Vine Street and Mission Inn Avenue, including a lighted tunnel, artistic crosswalks, murals, shared electric scooter lanes and light features at the 91 underpass.

Hosted by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the City of Riverside, Illuminate Riverside was designed to gather public input on potential street improvements under consideration for the Transit-Oriented Development Riverside Marketplace area near the station.

“This partnership with SCAG demonstrates that there are many ways of getting to the Festival that are faster and provide additional health benefits, compared to driving a vehicle,” said Riverside Mayor and SCAG Regional Council Member Rusty Bailey.