For decades, San Gabriel Valley commuters have groused about bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeways that connect them to central Los Angeles.
Starting Saturday, there is a new alternative: A 11.5-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line, stretching east from Pasadena through the cities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa.
The $1-billion project's path through quiet bedroom communities represents a new chapter, and new challenges, for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has never brought a rail line so deep into suburbia.
Supporters say the line will release the region's pent-up demand for alternative transportation options. The test, critics say, is whether Metro can attract — and retain — regular riders in suburban cities where driving is still the norm.
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