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LA Rams' first season was at least a win for public transit

August 20, 2016: All aboard the Metro as Rams fans leave the L.A. Coliseum after a game between the Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Rebecca Nieto/KPCC
Rams fans leave the L.A. Coliseum on an Expo Line train after the Aug. 20 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

As the Los Angeles Rams close out their first season at the Coliseum on Sunday, there's been little for fans to celebrate - but the team did score a win for public transit this year. About one-quarter of the people who attended home games took the train or bus to the Coliseum, with as many as 20,000 using public transit for some contests.

That level of ridership exceeded the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority's projections; it had expected about 15 percent of fans to use public transit.

Metro has run Expo Line trains every six minutes on game days, double the normal weekend frequency. That still hasn't met the demand; after the games fans often have had to wait in line for an hour or more for a train. 

Metro says it can't run trains any more frequently on game days than it already is, due to timing restrictions at certain intersections in downtown L.A. where the Expo Line shares tracks with the Blue Line. The agency says it may be adding a third car to its Expo Line light rail trains.

The Coliseum is easy to reach by transit, with the Expo Line and major bus routes within walking distance.

It’s not yet certain how transit riders will get to the Rams' future stadium, set to open in Inglewood in 2019.

The Crenshaw/LAX light rail line, now under construction, is set to open the same year as the stadium, with a stop in downtown Inglewood. But the location is 1 1/2 miles from the planned stadium complex, too far for many people to walk.

The transit agency has set up a special task force to consider several options to transport fans, ranging from a large fleet of game day shuttle buses, like those that carry fans to Dodgers games, to a short light rail spur that would connect to the future Crenshaw Line.

Inglewood Mayor James Butts, who sits on the Metro board and the task force, hopes to see a solution that will support the city's ambitions to become a year-round entertainment destination beyond the NFL.

The stadium will be the centerpiece of a massive 238-acre mixed-use development on the site of the old Hollywood Park race track, which will include housing, retail, a hotel and a casino.

"We really look forward to an option that will take people to that development 365 days a year," Butts said.

Even if the San Diego Chargers join the Rams to play in Inglewood, there would only be about 20 home games a year. Butts says the challenge is designing a system that can accommodate massive crowds on game days and be scaled back to remain sustainable during off-peak times.

Metro staff have just begun conducting feasibility studies for the various rail and bus options and will report initial findings to the Metro board next summer.