Speaking of trains, the horrific train wreck in L.A. last Friday came as ridership on the region’s rail network was on the rise, The New York Times reports.

Los Angeles has long been known for its car-choked freeways. But after gas prices in California rose to more than $4.50 a gallon over the last several months, more people here have begun to use public transportation. People who commute between Los Angeles and the suburbs of Ventura, Long Beach and three inland counties have traded $60 or more in monthly gas bills for $17 monthly Metrolink passes and climbed aboard. In late June, Metrolink reported a record number of train riders in a single day, 50,232.

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Rational or not, some of those new train riders may now be frightened back into their cars.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to reassure a potentially jittery public: “I think it is very important for people to know that even though we’ve had this tragedy, this way of traveling, metro trains and all of those, is the best and safest way to travel.” (Of course, Schwarzenegger himself commutes by private jet.)

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