Expo Line Phase 2 Opening Announced for May 20

Expo phase 2 map

Passengers will be able to ride a train to Santa Monica for the first time in more than half a century starting on Friday May 20, Metro officials announced today.

Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas announcing Expo 2's May 20 opening date. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas announcing Expo 2’s May 20 opening date. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Metro CEO Phil Washington officially announced the opening date for Expo phase 2, the 6.6-mile extension of the Expo light rail line. In April 2012, Expo’s first phase began operations between downtown L.A. and Culver City. Phase 2 adds seven new stations: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Sepulveda, Bundy, 26th St./Bergamot, 17th St./Santa Monica College, and downtown Santa Monica.

The announcement comes two days after the Expo Construction Authority, the state-created entity in charge of overseeing construction of the rail line, handed over the Expo maintenance facility in Santa Monica to Metro, marking “substantial completion” of the project. The tracks were turned over to Metro late last month, after which the county transit agency ramped up train testing frequencies.

Nearly 5 miles of parallel Expo bike path will open at the same time.

The $1.6 billion Expo line extension, funded in large part by Measure R, connects the westside to Culver City, USC, and downtown Los Angeles, as well as the Blue, Red, and Purple lines. Once Metro’s Regional Connector subway is complete, likely in 2021, Expo will also connect with the Eastside Gold line, offering passengers a one-seat ride from East Los Angeles to downtown Santa Monica.

During this morning’s Metro board meeting, Washington announced that Little Tokyo Regional Connector construction is on schedule. This construction is currently closing a central segment of the Metro Gold Line between Union Station and Pico Aliso Station. Washington reported that the full Gold Line will re-open on March 21st.

 

  • Walt Arrrrr

    Why is it that after 26 years of grand openings on Saturdays, Metro is just opening this highly anticipated extension on a Friday without any fanfare for railfans enjoying free fare?

  • Dennis_Hindman

    For the month of January 2016, the Expo Line had the highest amount of weekday boarding’s per mile of any of Metro’s light rail lines. Adding 6.6 more miles through some of the most heavily congested traffic in the county has the potential to greatly increase the total boarding’s in a very short amount of time on this line. The success of this light-rail line could be one of the strongest arguments to convince people to vote for an additional half-cent sales tax in November for more rail transit lines.

  • Sirinya Matute

    This is great news. Hooray!

  • Jason

    I think the bigger head-scratcher is that it would seem like opening on a Saturday is basically a “soft opening” like a lot of businesses do, in the sense that if it turns out there’s any issues that turn out to not be revealed until revenue service starts, you can deal with it without the bad publicity of fucking up people’s commutes on its very first day of service.

    (To be clear, I’m not one of those people who views transit as only being useful for getting to work, I’m just suggesting that people’s moods turn south a lot quicker if it happens while they’re trying to get to work, which in turn ups the bad publicity of it if it’s LOTS of people trying to get to work and not just people who work weekends.)

  • sigaba

    I’ve been taking it this week and it’s been packed to standing room the morning rush, with the full 6-car consists. Expo’s also been easily 15 minutes faster than the drive down I-10 from downtown to Culver City, it’s a great ad for Metro.

    It’s worst challenge going forward is that it’s probably underbuilt for the kind of demand it’s likely to see, by 2020 Metro’s probably going to have to start looking for ways to add another car-length to the platforms, or start budgeting for more grade separations out west.

  • Joseph E

    Fortunately, Metro will have the ability to run 3-car trains (they look like 6 cars) every 6 minutes at rush hour. That’s a significant capacity increase. The Regional Connector should make it possible to run trains every 4 to 5 minutes. Unfortunately, that’s the max, since the Expo and Blue lines will share tracks in the new subway through downtown.

  • Alex Brideau III

    Yeah. The only way headways could be decreased is if Metro chose to update the junction at Washington & Flower to allow Santa Monica-to-Long Beach trains to run. Not likely, IMHO, but theoretically possible.

    For now, though, it will be interesting to see the ridership numbers for the first few months of service.

  • Gezellig

    Awesome–Memorial Day LA weekend trip it is!

    My last LA visit was all-transit and was so successful I’ll definitely be doing it that way again, but have been waiting for the Expo Line extension to be done.

    Can’t wait!

  • effron

    The at-grade crossings for Expo 2 threaten to be it’s undoing. 6 minute headways with a minimum of 40 second delay at each crossing plus the regular cycle for traffic lights is going to create the kind of congestion that invariably even the train will have to wait for. In fact, Expo 2 has installed stop lights for the trains at all at-grade crossings in anticipation of this event.

  • calwatch

    My recollection is LADOT imposed a limit on trains allowed on Flower to 20 trains an hour/direction. Although the design headway of the Regional Connector is for 2.5 minute headways (24 trains/hr/direction) any additional trains could cause issues. The design headway on Expo is 12 trains/hour (5 minute service, http://media.metro.net/board/Items/2014/04_april/20140417ssopitem43.pdf) so you could mix 12 Expo trains and 8 Blue Line trains an hour and not exceed the LADOT limit.

  • calwatch

    On the other hand, no bus service changes that day. If you just wanted to get to work, you could do what you had been doing in the past. The Big Blue Bus service change is in June and so is the Metro shakeup that is going to cancel the 534 from Santa Monica to Culver City and thin parallel bus service to the Expo Line.

  • neroden

    Well, then the Purple Line to Santa Monica should bleed off some of the traffic… if you ever manage to finish building it!

  • afunlovinman

    How many delays will there be this time? Metro announced a year ago the the opening would be in 2015

  • afunlovinman

    How many delays will there be this time. Metro announced a year ago the line would be opened in 2015. Another deadline missed.
    We all remember how many delays there were in phase I. Only the rides suffer.

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