Hailing the move as its biggest service-restoration since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Metrolink announced this week it will reinstate service on 24 of the most in-demand trains and add two new trains.

The April 4 service update will also make four Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains available to all Metrolink ticket holders, adding Saturday and Sunday service on the Ventura County Line.

In March 2020, Metrolink slashed its schedule by about 30 percent, responding to a 90-percent drop in ridership as the COVID virus took hold and stay-at-home orders took effect. But with more workers returning to their workplaces, and with gas prices at record highs, the regional commuter service has seen sharp ridership growth on weekdays and weekends, according to the agency.

The April 4 upgrades are expected to increase that percentage to about 44 percent by midsummer, according to the agency. Metrolink officials said the weekend ridership is already at about 70 percent of its pre-pandemic levels.

“Metrolink is the backbone of public transportation in southern California as it literally links people from their homes to their workplaces and other destinations–from the Inland Empire to Oceanside or Ventura, throughout the Antelope, San Fernando and Perris valleys and into Los Angeles,” Metrolink Board Chair Ara Najarian said in a statement.

The upgrades being made next month are:

— 91/Perris Valley Line: Two added trains with midday service to Los Angeles and a reverse morning trip to Riverside County;

— Antelope Valley line: Six added trains and schedule updates offering increased flexibility for weekday travel;

— Orange County line: Two added trains offering more weekday morning service;

— Riverside line: Four added trains offering increased flexibility for weekday travel;

— San Bernardino line: Six added trains including later evening trains, plus new Sunday service; and

— Ventura County line: Six added Metrolink trains including weekday morning and evening trains, plus four Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains that are now available to all Metrolink ticket holders–including on Saturday and Sundays.

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