Norwalk-Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station: Future Intermodal Center?

The Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Station is roughly half way between downtown Los Angeles and Anaheim. It has an impressive track layout with field side platforms allowing passenger to board trains while avoiding crossing tracks that are connected with a pedestrian bridge to the station. There are 4 tracks at the station. Two tracks serve the passenger platforms and 2 tracks in the center are freight by-pass tracks. This layout allows plenty of extra track capacity at this station for future train and ridership growth. The Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink Station today is a busy commuter station.

Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs is being considered as a future station for California High Speed Rail, when it is extended to Los Angeles and Anaheim. The other station also being considered instead is Fullerton. The main problem with using Fullerton as a High Speed Rail station is it is fairly close to Anaheim and would be competing for passengers with Anaheim.

The main problem now for using Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs as a High Speed Rail station is moving more people into and out of the current station. The problem isn’t the 4 tracks at the station. Most people using this station now come or leave by car. There isn’t enough room for more parking or road capacity around the station for large numbers of additional passengers.

The Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs station does have some transit bus service. Of Norwalk City Transit’s 5 bus lines, one serves the station, the number 4 on Imperial Highway connecting it to the Green Line light rail station. There are also several LA Metro bus lines in the Norwalk and Santa Fe Springs area. But none of these bus lines stop at the station. This would require a major reorganization of LA Metro bus routes to serve the Norwall/Santa Fe Springs Station. But with improved rail service there will be more demand for add more bus service to more places at Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs.

There has been interest for some time in extending the LA Metro light rail Green Line from its Norwalk terminal by the 605 freeway the 2 plus miles to the Metrolink Station. This will be expensive. But with the construction now underway of the Crenshaw Line connecting to the Green Line and serving the LAX area, it makes more sense to extend light rail to the Metrolink Station. With connections by light rail at Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs, it would be possible for passengers from the Los Angeles area, Orange and San Diego Counties as well as the Inland Empire to make connections to LAX, the South Bay and much of West Los Angeles.

For many people it will be easier to connect at Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs to LAX than at Los Angeles Union Station. In the future a person at LAUS besides taking the Flyaway bus to LAX, would have to catch the future extended Blue Line, then connect at the Green Line before riding a People Mover to the terminals. At Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs, transferring to a new Green Line connections should be a shorter walk than transferring to the Blue Line at LAUS, particularly from High Speed Rail’s planned new tracks and platforms at LAUS. Plus from Norwalk/ Santa Fe Springs there is no need to transfer from the Blue Line and take stairs to a different level to transfer to the Green Line.

There is more that can be done to attract ridership at Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs. The current layout of the station is not pedestrian or bicyclist friendly. It is awkward to walk from the station to the nearby area, particularly to nearby Imperial Highway. The station and the area around the station was built for auto and truck traffic, not for people. Next to the station, Los Angeles County has many County Offices and Courtrooms. Many people come here on business with the County as well as County employees who work in this area. Redevelopment in this general area of the current Metrolink station for both new commercial and residential building would increase use of the station and serve as a regional transportation hub.

Not all of these potential projects would have to wait years to come about. In the short term it is possible to run additional bus service from Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs to LAX, the South Bay and West Side of Los Angeles. To get to the Green Line today from the Metrolink station requires a ride on Norwalk Transit bus #4 on Imperial Highway with all the intermediate stops. A Flyaway bus, or similar service could drive non-stop to and on the 105 freeway HOV Lane for faster connections to LAX. Other buses from Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs on the 105 freeway could make intermediate stops to the Green Line as well st connections to transit centers at LAX, for the Expo Line at Culver City, to the South Bay and Westwood. Such bus service have relatively low start up costs and would open new markets to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Station.

Growing traffic and demand for transportation alternatives will put more pressure on the Norwalk/Santa Fe Station to handle more people and expand its feeder and distribution system of passengers by rail and bus. This will be particularly true as we see expanded Metrolink service with track work now underway combined with future High Speed Rail service. This station will need more connections to let more people use the expanded rail passenger services. It isn’t too early now to consider new options for the future of Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs.

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