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Santa Monica Councilmember Appointed to Metrolink Board
By Jorge Casuso
October 24, 2018 -- Growing up in Chicago, Santa Monica Councilmember Pam O'Connor would sometimes ride the commuter trains. Now she'll be in the conductor's seat as the newest member of the Metrolink Board.
O'Connor -- who served on the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board for 13 year -- was appointed by LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to the 11-member body last Tuesday.
“Pam has a long history of public service and she will be an asset to all our member agencies,” said Metrolink Board Chair Andrew Kotyuk in a statement issued shortly after her appointment.
The new position offers O'Connor, who is seeking re-election to a record seventh term, an opportunity to take her expertise in local transit and her love of trains from LA County to Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
Although the system, which is the third largest commuter rail agency in the country, connects Santa Monica to the region, residents of the beach city tend to use it sparingly, O'Connor said.
"It's probably not a daily commute option if you live in Santa Monica," O'Connor said. "But it's a good option if you're taking a long day trip or if you need to go to San Bernardino for a day."
Metrolink, which has been operating for 25 years, is expected to add 4 million annual riders by 2025, O'Connor said.
One of the challenges facing the rail system is switching from single to multiple tracks, which requires investing money and entering into agreements with major rail lines, O'Connor said.
In a statement issued after her appointment, O'Connor said she is "eager to take part in Metrolink’s rapidly expanding role in community cohesiveness, sustainability, mobility and livability.”
But her first priority is safety, O’Connor said.
“The Board’s dedication to safety promotes those principles and ensures ever-growing ridership and the transformation of our region’s transportation paradigm,” she said.
O'Connor will serve on the board as an alternate director, a position that doe not require the occupant to hold public office.
O'Connor currently serves on the Board of the National League of Cities and chairs the organization's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
A professional urban planner, she also served for 20 years as a regional councilmember of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization.
There's one perk O'Connor, who grew up riding the Rock Island Line in Illinois, is looking forward to as a new director.
"You get to ride the locomotive," she said.
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