The SBCTA Board of Directors approved the annual subsidy request from the Southern California Regional Rail Authority to support operations of the Metrolink commuter rail service. SBCTA approved a subsidy of $39.15 million to support Metrolink’s 2022-2023 budget of $441 million. The funds support operating expenses as well as assistance for rehabilitation and new capital projects.
Metrolink operates commuter rail on seven rail lines through six Southern California counties, covering 538 miles and 63 stations.
In a presentation to the May SBCTA Transit Committee, Metrolink CEO Darrin Kettle outlined the agency’s effort to recover from the COVID 19 pandemic. Public transit agencies across the nation suffered catastrophic losses in ridership during the lockdowns due to COVID 19.
Mr. Kettle highlighted that Metrolink is the fastest recovering regional rail agency in California and the San Bernardino line, stretching from LA Union Station to Downtown San Bernardino, is the fastest recovering line in the system.
Although Metrolink is seeing positive progress in ridership, the system remains at 38% of pre-pandemic ridership numbers. The pandemic required decreasing of service by 30%, but Metrolink is quickly restoring service to increase ridership. Metrolink is currently at 90% of pre-pandemic service levels and anticipates to be at 100% of pre-pandemic service levels by October 2022.
SBCTA looks forward to helping in the recovery of Metrolink and attracting more riders to the service. SBCTA’s Redlands Passenger Rail Project is nearly complete and the new Arrow rail service, from Downtown San Bernardino to the University of Redlands, will begin service later this year. The Arrow service will add nine miles to the Metrolink system and bring commuter rail access to thousands more San Bernardino County residents.