You can file this under "Why on Earth did it take them so long to figure this one out". Here is the city of Pasadena's take on it:
The City of Pasadena has a temporary agreement with MTA to make improvements to the alleyways, except that we can’t excavate. The grade is steeper than it should be for a pedestrian walkway, so we’ll put in an asphalt overlay to get the ideal 2% grade. The fences will be removed. Also, we’ll place planters, benches and trash receptacles along the walkway. The timeline — you’ll see asphalt going down next week, and then hopefully by Thanksgiving the planters and other items will be put in place. We’re trying to encourage property owners in the area to put up lighting on their buildings that will shine down on the walkway at night since we’re not allowed to dig any holes for light poles.
Someone mentioned previously that the Memorial Park station should be renamed the Old Town station, and this makes that seem even more logical. The station is visible in the back of the first 2 pictures. The second and third pictures show the two block that you would walk from the station to get to Colorado Bl, at the East end of Old Town.
I would think this would be a great way for businesses along that ROW to generate more traffic. And it will also enable train riders to get to Colorado more easily than the current sidewalk configuration. It could really be turned into the "gateway to Old Town" if they did it right. Unless they completely bungle it, it is going to wind up as a great use of previously unused space.