A trumpet fanfare, Beach Boys music and political speeches heralded the opening of Los Angeles' latest com-mut-er rail line Saturday, but critics doubted it would have much impact on the area's crowded freeways, where the car is still king.
The 20-mile line, which will carry commuters across southern Los Angeles County, stopping at 14 communities, cost $950 million to build - three times more than orig-inal-ly estimated - and opened more than a year behind schedule.It has been criticized as the railroad to nowhere because it does not carry passengers to the downtown business area and stops tantalizingly short of Los Angeles In-ter-na-tion-al Airport, where a Green Line station had originally been planned.
The idea was scrapped because of cost overruns.
"They're going to open this thing with great fanfare, and I'm delighted to have it open, but I don't believe there's going to be anyone to ride it because it doesn't go anywhere," said one of the line's strongest critics, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimates 10,000 riders a day will use the new line, one-tenth of the originally projected figure and, as critics gleefully point out, slightly less than the number using the Disneyland monorail at the theme park a few miles down the road.
The new line runs from suburban Norwalk in the southeast region of the county to Redondo Beach in the southwest. It will cost commuters $1.35 each way, although rides were to be free over the weekend to introduce the new service to commuters.
It expands Los Angeles rail commuter system to 46 miles and joins the Blue Line and the Red Line services.