The following story originally appeared on the Pasadena Star-News website on July 26, 2013.
Elected officials from across the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire gathered at Pasadena’s Del Mar Station Friday morning to cut a cake in celebration of the Gold Line’s successes, but also to send a message to others about the importance of building more light rail lines throughout the region.
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said the Gold Line is worthy of celebration, as the city’s six rail stations have become hubs for economic development.
“This project has been such a significant factor in the modern development of the city of Pasadena,” Bogaard said. “Its arrival has created a renaissance that has strengthened the fabric of our city and dramatically changed how many of our residents, workers and visitors travel every day.”
Bogaard said since the Gold Line work began in 2000, the city has seen 2,000 new residential units and 750,000 square feet of commercial and retail space developed around the light rail stations.
Other cities along the line, including South Pasadena, have seen similar improvements. South Pasadena’s downtown has seen an increase in retail and restaurant businesses since the city’s one station was built, Gold Line officials said, and demand for downtown real estate has gone up.
“Not just South Pasadena, but all the stations have been a fountain of economic revitalization,” South Pasadena Councilman Michael Cacciotti said. “The difference from 2003 to now is incredible.”
Carlos Morales, founder of the East Side Bike Club, said he takes the Gold Line from his home in El Sereno to the Sierra Madre station and rides his bike the rest of the way to his store, Stan’s Monrovia Bike Shop. He said he’s excited for the Gold Line stations to open in Arcadia and Monrovia as part of the extension to Azusa, set for completion in 2015, and hopes to see it extended further east and west.
“After experiencing what it can do for a community, any municipality would be crazy not to it invite it in,” Morales said.
Many of Friday’s speakers talked about the obstacle the Gold Line faced in getting local and federal funding, the ultimate creation of the Construction Authority.
“Over a decade ago it wouldn’t necessarily have been a given that this Gold Line would be completed,” Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, said. “There was no easy way to get from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena, yet there was a lot of resistance to this Gold Line.”
The line now boasts more than 1 million riders a month and, according to Metro officials, is the second most used rail line in Los Angeles. Chu said Metro officials also plan to add more train cars because of the high demand.
And the overwhelming message of Friday’s celebration was the importance of continuing to expand on the line’s past successes in the future.
Metro board members Ara Najarian, John Fasana and Supervisor Michael Antonovich also vowed Friday, with the support of state and federal legislators, to fight on the Metro board to allocate funds to the Gold Line extension.
“It makes good sense, it makes common sense and it’s the kind of public transportation we want to encourage our citizens to take part in but it has to go where people need it to go,” former Pasadena Councilman and State Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena. “If it’s going to take cars off the highway then it has to be connecting regionally to points of interest where people are going to feel the value and see the benefit.”