It’s a date: Expo to roll in April
March 23, 2012
After months of testing and delays, the much-anticipated Expo Line light rail will start carrying passengers on April 28, officials announced today.
Riders will be able to jump aboard for free during the line’s inaugural weekend, April 28 and 29. Metro Board Chair and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the opening this morning at a news conference with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Exposition Authority chair and Metro board member, and Metrolink chair Richard Katz.
“Some of us didn’t think we’d live long enough to see this day, but we’ve made it,” joked Yaroslavsky, standing on the platform of the new station at La Cienega and Jefferson. “This is the first light rail line, mass transit line, to serve the Westside of Los Angeles since the Red Car was dismantled in the 1950s, so this is a huge deal.”
After the announcement, the elected officials, Metro staffers and members of the news media hopped aboard Expo Line Train 246 for a standing-room-only ceremonial trip from La Cienega to downtown.
At first, the new line will run from Metro’s 7th Street Center downtown as far as the La Cienega station. Paralleling the notoriously jammed 10 Freeway, the Expo Line will open with 9 new stations, including USC, Western, Crenshaw and La Brea, and two stations shared with the Blue Line. In coming weeks, an additional station in Culver City is expected to open at Venice and Robertson, concluding the 8.6-mile Phase 1 of the project.
Meanwhile, Phase 2 is underway to extend the line 6.6 miles to 4th and Colorado in Santa Monica; it is expected to be completed in four years.
This interactive map shows how the entire 15.2-mile line will look when finished. It’s expected to eventually carry about 64,000 passengers a day, making it one of the most heavily-used lines of its kind in the country. The first phase is projected to carry about 26,000 riders a day.
“Every time we add a leg to our regional transportation network, it’s a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts,” Yaroslavsky said. “When we finish this line to Santa Monica, you’ll be able to go from any part of Southern California to the beach. People who live near the beach will be able to go to any other part of Southern California. This line will now connect this community—the Crenshaw area, the Culver City area, ultimately Santa Monica—to the rest of the region.”
Testing on the $932 million first phase of the Expo Line has been underway since last fall, but the opening has been delayed several times to work out technical and logistical issues, including signal timing where the line intersects with the Blue Line at Washington and Flower.
Metro CEO Art Leahy said that problem has recently been worked out to allow trains to move through the intersection at regular intervals, without causing delays that could have rippled out throughout the system.
The Expo Line’s opening comes against a backdrop of rapid expansion of Los Angeles’ public mass transit network, once widely—and justly—derided as close to nonexistent.
In addition to the upcoming opening of the first part of the Expo Line, work has begun on the $1.5 billion Expo Phase 2, the northward extension of the Orange Line is nearly complete, final environmental documents for the Westside Subway have just been released and the Gold Line is expanding to Azusa, among other projects.
“There’s no city in the country, none, that is engaged in as ambitious an expansion of their light rail and subway system than L.A.,” Villaraigosa said.
Officials credited county voters will making it all possible by approving Measure R, the ½-cent sales tax for transit projects, in 2008.
“These are your tax dollars at work,” Yaroslavsky said.
For a preview of what’s in store, check out Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s Expo Line test ride in this video.