Officials from left to right:  Patrick McClenahan, President and Chief Executive Officer of LA2015, the Games Organizing Committee; Ara Najarian, Glendale City Council Member, Metro Board Member; Marco Martinez, Special Olympics athlete; Rafer Johnson, Olympic Champion and co-Founder of Special Olympics Southern California; Phillip A. Washington, Metro CEO.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) has  joined with organizers of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games (LA2015) to encourage Metro bus and rail services to and from major sporting events now planned in the Greater L.A. area July 25 to Aug. 2.

The Special Olympics World Games, an international sports competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, includes more than 7,000 athletes representing 177 counties who are scheduled to participate in 25 Olympic-style sports in venues across L.A. County. The World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world this year and the single largest event to be held in the greater Los Angeles area since the 1984 Olympic Games.

Metro was named “Official Transit Provider” for the Special Olympics World Games, and will heavily promote public transit in the six weeks prior to the start of the Games’ Opening Ceremony on July 25 at the L.A. Coliseum.  More than 60,000 spectators from all over the world are expected to attend the Opening Ceremony, but approximately half a million spectators are anticipated to attend the weeklong series of Special Olympics events.

“It is an honor and a privilege for Los Angeles to host the Special Olympics,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chair Eric Garcetti, Honorary Host of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games with Gov. Jerry Brown.

“L.A. is the city of hope, opportunity, and inclusion, and these games are the embodiment of our spirit.  As Metro Chair, I’m proud we have a world-class transit system that will help athletes and fans enjoy the Games and easily experience everything our region has to offer.”

Officials are now drawing comparisons to the 1984 Olympic Games, the last time a sporting event this large was staged in the L.A. region.  According to Metro officials, use of public transit — like during the 1984 Olympics — would help the region reduce traffic congestion in and around major sports venues including UCLA, USC and Memorial Coliseum, L.A. Convention Center, L.A. Live, Long Beach Marina and Balboa Sports Center.

“As we celebrate this great event, take advantage of the miles and miles of rail now available to take visitors and residents alike to so many destinations in our county,” said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I urge everyone coming to watch the athletes compete at the Special Olympic Games to skip the traffic and the parking fees and Go Metro.”

Domestic and international travelers can utilize L.A. County’s Metro system to access all of L.A.’s world-class destinations while they’re in Los Angeles including Hollywood, Universal City, Pasadena, Long Beach, the South Bay, San Fernando Valley and the Westside.

“We are excited and proud to transport thousands of spectators to the 2015 Special Olympics,” said Metro Board member and Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian. “We encourage all visitors to take public transit not only to the games, but also to the many entertainment venues served by Metro buses and trains.”

Metro also plans to provide 12,000 TAP cards for use by Special Olympics World Games volunteers, officials and staff.  Special commemorative World Games TAP cards will be sold in Metro’s ticket vending machines one to two weeks before the start of the Games.

“The Special Olympics World Games will be the largest gathering of nations for any event ever held in Los Angeles and taking Metro will be the most convenient way for fans, volunteers and other participants to get around,” said Patrick McClenahan, LA2015 President and CEO.

“Many Special Olympics Southern California athletes count on Metro daily to get themselves to jobs or school. We are proud to have Metro play a big part in making our event a success.”

Metro plans to provide frequent service during the World Games and will bolster service as needed.