[Video] Ideas for Pasadena: Build Train Shelters on Freeway Platforms to Protect Riders from Noise and Noxious Fumes

All you need to do is watch the video (above) I recorded on the Lake Ave Gold Line station to understand (and hear) how loud the cars and trucks are as they zoom by the train platform–constantly–assaulting the ears from both sides. Transit riders wait on these platforms embedded in the middle of freeways on the Gold and Green Lines and are subjected, helplessly, to deafening noise and exhaust fumes. Very unpleasant.

It was already a huge mistake to put train lines down the middle of busy freeways instead of where people actually, you know, walk, but to add insult to injury, must we transit riders also be subjected to unhealthy decibel levels and asthma-inducing car fumes while waiting for the next train to arrive? Will Metro hear our cries above the sound of roaring automobiles?

Personally, I don’t think this is an insurmountable issue and could easily be mitigated by installing a barrier of some sort between the platform and the freeway. A possible enclosed shelter would make these “freeway stations” much more attractive to transit riders who could finally wait “in peace and quiet” (and actually have a conversation with their friends without shouting) instead of being blasted by the incessant roar of speeding vehicles and noxious fumes.

An innovative and protective bus shelter in Curitiba, Brazil may offer us here in Pasadena a concrete, real-world example on how we can protect our own transit riders on noisy platform stations (Photo courtesy of


  1. Pingback: Ideas for Pasadena: Build Train Shelters on Freeway Platforms to Protect Riders from Noise and Noxious Fumes | Brigham Yen | Hometown Pasadena |

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  3. Hefe says

    Sorry, Brigham, being inside that tube would be MUCH louder than it is right now. Try putting your head inside a plastic salad bowl at a noisy party… it won’t dim the noise, it will make it unbearable.

  4. A complete enclosure like the tube might be difficult to implement because it would encroach on the breakdown lane on the freeway and create a hazard. (Which gets to one of your secondary points.) But it would be quite simple to install at least a minimal sound wall on top of the barrier between the tracks and breakdown lane. This would have a big impact of how welcoming the station is.

    I suspect whoever did the original architectural renderings was just given a footprint size to work with and thought, “Oh, SoCal, so nice open breezy station!” Hopefully Metro will continue to think more in the new station designs about designing for the actual location and not just to generate a pretty drawing where the background fades out.

  5. Bob Davis says

    As one who rejoiced when the Gold Line opened in 2003, ending a 50+ year absence of electric rail service in the San Gabriel Valley, I do find the noise of the freeway at SMV, Allen and Lake unpleasant. On the other hand, trains run fairly frequently, so waiting times aren’t that long. Regarding fumes: I worked at a diesel locomotive shop in my younger days, so exhaust gases don’t bother me that much. I wonder if anyone who has lived in Chicago reads these commentaries; CTA has many expressway-median stations. I’d like to know if they find the noise and fumes equally obnoxious.
    Historical note: Before the 210 freeway was built, the Santa Fe line ran through residential areas with numerous grade crossings. Trains rattled along at about 25 mph. Imagine the NIMBY problems if Metro didn’t have the freeway median, but used the 19th-century “back yard” route.

  6. This freeway platform situation exists on the Green Line, as well, it’s a very unfortunate decision made by the initial planners. The only “cure” for something like this is to make these locations an opportunity to “lid” the freeway and incorporate parkway (like the High Line in NYC) or water (like the Freeway Park in Seattle). A decent-sized lid can create pedestrian and small commercial opportunities as well – the precedent for that is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Also, Ljubljana, Slovenia is building more pedestrian/shopping bridges to complement its old bridges, do a google search for images. Some problems never change…treat the freeway like an old transit waterway.

  7. Endo says

    What about all the stations along the Green Line that sit right in the middle of the 105 Freeway? If Metro was going to impliment any type of shelter for median stations, shouldn’t they start there first? Oh wait Pasadena>anyone along the Green Line right?

  8. I’d like to see a freeway cap over the Lake Ave station, creating a park over the 210 free way on both sides of Lake Ave, which would bridge Downtown Pasadena with Northwest Pasadena. If this were done, we could completely “wall-in” the freeway traffic by building a solid wall on each side of the Metro track up to the top of the cap, essentially creating two tunnels. Large openings in the cap over the Metro waiting area could be created to allow light and air onto the platforms.

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