Redlands celebrates arrival of Arrow train service 3 days early – San Bernardino Sun


On Monday, the first train on the new Arrow line arrives in downtown Redlands at 5:55 a.m. and the first one departs downtown at 6:13 a.m.

On Friday morning, at the reasonable time of 10 a.m., officials and much of the community gathered in downtown Redlands for a dedication ceremony.

I was there. So were some 400 others, crowding onto the platform in the shadow of the 1909 Santa Fe Depot to take part in the hoopla and listen to a parade of speakers. And why not? There hasn’t been regular passenger service in Redlands since 1938.

We were told the Arrow line has been in discussion since the early 1990s and actively in the works the past decade.

“This has been a long and arduous journey,” said Art Bishop, president of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority. He knows about long and arduous journeys: He drove 56 miles from Apple Valley.

Why was the dedication on Friday rather than Monday, you might ask? Officials wanted to inform the community the trains are coming and to spur people to show up to ride it.

Besides, imagine if the ceremony took place early Monday before the first train. Everyone would be giving their speeches, congratulating themselves and cutting the ribbon in the dark. And what if a passenger hurrying to catch the train got maimed by the giant scissors? Gosh!

Joe Linton, of Los Angeles, left, has his photo taken by Erik Griswold, of Claremont, as they tour a new train for the new Arrow passenger rail service at the downtown Redlands train station on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Arrow train service between San Bernardino and Redlands will begin on Monday. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

I made a point of attending the dedication. This is the first Metrolink expansion since the Perris Valley Line in 2016. And as careful readers know, I’m a dedicated fan of Metrolink and public transit.

The Arrow line runs 9 miles between Redlands and San Bernardino’s downtown station. The line has four new stations: University of Redlands, downtown and major employer Esri in Redlands and Tippecanoe Avenue in San Bernardino.

I don’t know why it’s called the Arrow line, but it’s catchy. The San Bernardino arrowhead symbol may have something to do with it. I like to think someone was inspired by Sylvia Plath’s poem “Ariel”: “And I/Am the arrow.”

The Arrow line has a complicated history that I have half-followed over the years as a newspaper reader. If I understand this right, SBCTA proposed the Arrow line as an entity independent of Metrolink, under the thinking that Metrolink’s double-decker diesel locomotives were overkill.

SBCTA wanted Omnitrans, a bus service, to operate the smaller trains it had in mind. But Omnitrans’ financial difficulties saw the line punted to Metrolink.

Arrow will use low-emission diesel trains. One was parked at the station Friday for people to walk through. It’s very nice: more plush than a Gold Line light-rail trolley, but smaller (yet also more plush) than a Metrolink train car.

Redlanders will be able to compare and contrast: Once a day, standard Metrolink trains will operate on an Express schedule from Redlands all the way to L.A. with limited stops.

Can you believe it? Redlands hasn’t had train service since FDR was in office, and suddenly it’ll have two separate train lines.

Attendees wait to enter a new train during the inaugural ceremony for the new Arrow passenger rail service in Redlands on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Arrow train service between San Bernardino and Redlands will begin on Monday. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Attendees wait to enter a new train during the inaugural ceremony for the new Arrow passenger rail service in Redlands on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. Arrow train service between San Bernardino and Redlands will begin on Monday. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Anyway, back to the ceremony.

On video from Washington, D.C., Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. secretary of transportation, offered congratulations.

From the speaker’s platform, Rep. Pete Aguilar, a former Redlands mayor, said of Buttigieg: “It’s nice to have a secretary of Transportation who can pick out the Inland Empire on a map.” I don’t know what happens if San Bernardino County secedes. It might ruin everything.

Larry McCallon, the mayor of Highland, said the Arrow’s stop in downtown San Bernardino will allow Redlands passengers to connect to two Metrolink lines: the San Bernardino Line west to Union Station in L.A. and the Inland Empire/Orange County Line south to Oceanside.

Indicating the Arrow train parked silently behind the speakers’ platform, McCallon said: “I’m told the engine on this is running. Can you hear it? Amazing.” It’s true, it was like an electric car.

Before he sat down, the audience sang “Happy Birthday” to McCallon, who turned 83 that day.

Paul Barich, Redlands’ mayor, said of the Arrow line: “Frankly, I can’t wait to ride it.”

John Valdivia, the mayor of San Bernardino for a few more weeks, was the last elected official to speak. He said Arrow service “will open up many new opportunities for the people of San Bernardino County” and that the added mobility and commerce will only bolster his city’s “renaissance.”

During Valdivia’s remarks, the previously silent train emitted a few loud whooshes of air, as if it were passing gas. This is the first time I’ve heard a train offer political commentary.

After the ceremony, I chatted with Darren Kettle, Metrolink’s CEO. He said the Arrow schedule is timed to be as seamless as possible so that people arriving in San Bernardino won’t have to wait long for a connecting train.

The Arrow schedule spaces trains throughout the day rather than clustering them during morning and afternoon rush hours, which is Metrolink’s custom. Some passengers, Kettle said, will simply ride within Redlands or to San Bernardino.

“It’s going to lend itself to a whole new rider,” Kettle said.

Ray Wolfe, SBCTA’s executive director, echoed that point with me a few minutes later. His agency’s goal, he said, was a system geared less to commuters and more to the general public.



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