At the one-year anniversary of California’s COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, most lapsed riders say they plan to return to the rails — here’s how Metrolink is responding to your changing needs.
According to the results of a 2021 COVID-19 Customer Survey Metrolink conducted with riders, our railway system continues to be a safe, trusted and essential way of connecting you to all the things that matter in your life.
The February 2021 survey, which received 10,449 valid responses, was designed to identify riders’ evolving needs — including health and safety concerns — and is a follow-up to a similar survey fielded at the start of the pandemic in April 2020.
As Ridership Grows Beyond Just Traditional Commuters, We’re Expanding as a Service for Weekend Warriors and Explorers
Over the past year, Metrolink has served essential workers who kept the Southern California mega-region functioning safely throughout the pandemic. In the survey, 75 percent of people currently riding Metrolink identified themselves as essential workers — an increase of 4 percent from Metrolink’s April 2020 survey. 29 percent of these essential workers are in the healthcare industry.
Now, with survey results showing an increase in off-peak and weekend service, we’re excited to see that you’re riding the rails for personal and leisure reasons, too.
25 percent of current riders list visiting family and friends as the reason they’re riding our train, 10 percent are traveling for personal business, while 8 percent of you are taking the train to enjoy all Southern California has to offer with leisure travel.
So, why are people increasingly opting to embark on their adventures via train, as opposed to car—when SoCal has been traditionally known for its car culture?
Survey respondents said they’re choosing Metrolink instead of driving for a number of reasons:
- 27 percent said they’re choosing railway travel for the relaxing ridership experience
- 18 percent said riding the train is more economical than driving
- 16 percent said they’re choosing railway travel because taking the train allows for other activities en route – such as reading, getting work done, or winding down after a day at work
- And finally, 15 percent said they ride because it can be faster than driving with rush hour traffic
Health and Safety Measures Come Out on Top
It is important to note that you gave us exceptionally high marks for our health and safety practices that we’ve put into place since the beginning of the pandemic. 85 percent of current riders rated Metrolink’s cleaning and safety efforts “excellent” or “good” (on a 5-point scale).
We’re so happy to have introduced new measures to keep you safe as the pandemic unfolded, including cleaning all surfaces on board our trains with hospital-grade disinfectant, more frequent sanitizing of train interiors and platform areas throughout the day by our Clean Care Crew, and doubling the amount of hand sanitizing stations on each rail car.
We also installed new antimicrobial air filters that reduce contaminants by 99.9 percent , required face masks to be worn at all stations and onboard trains and developed an online tool called “How Full is My Train?” that enables you to check the capacity in each car, to ensure there is enough space for physical distancing.
Metrolink will continue to offer the safest and most reliable service to Southern Californians who are looking for an alternative mode of transportation to get to work, as well as for those who are searching for an affordable way to get to the beach on a weekend while beating the traffic.
Dynamic Service Continues in the “New Normal”
As we approach the one-year-anniversary of stay-at-home orders in California — we can potentially see a return to a “new normal.” That’s why we are so happy that many of you who have been staying safer a home — 85 percent said you will return to Metrolink, according to the survey.
And we’re constantly improving to meet you changing needs. That’s probably why so many of you stick with us long-term. Service expansion, on-train amenities, and flexible ticketing options are just some of the ways we continue to evolve.
So, as we come back to “different,” here’s what Metrolink is bringing to your experience while we continue to move forward:
- The 5-Day Flex Pass offers you more convenience for travel providing five discounted round trip passes that can be used within 30 days of purchase.
- The Kids Ride Free on Weekends fare offers families the chance to bring three kids ages 17 and under for free with each paying adult — anywhere Metrolink travels on weekends (And adults pay just $10 each, all day). This is your ticket to safely get the entire family out on adventures throughout Southern California.
- The EXPLORE digital content hub offers Southern Californians inspiration on how and where to take the train to embark on a weekend adventure. These adventures perfectly pair with our special “surfboard and bike cars,” ideal for packing a picnic and embarking on a local day trip getaway or staycation anywhere across the six counties our train currently serves, from Ventura down to Oceanside.
- The SoCal Explorer Loyalty program allows you to earn points toward free rides, Metrolink merch, and exclusive discounts at local businesses for each mile traveled on the rail. We designed this rewards program to thank you for choosing Metrolink to take the train wherever you need to go, including work, daycation adventures, visiting friends and family, and more.
- The online Metrolink store offers a wide variety of rail-inspired gear and swag for you and your family to enjoy (and show off when you ride the train!).
Metrolink is excited and ready to welcome our riders back, with a service that’s even safer and more affordable (as well as more convenient) than before, thanks to the work we’ve been doing over the last year after listening to what’s important to you.
For more specific details on the survey and how Metrolink is taking each customer’s feedback extremely seriously, check out the 2020-21 rider survey, here.