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Expo Opening Date Announced: Downtown to La Cienega on April 28th

Fearless prediction: Sometime in 2012 Phase I of the Expo Line will open.

At a press event earlier today, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the opening date for most of Phase I of the Expo Line.  The line will begin service on Saturday, April 28 from Downtown Los Angeles to  the La Cienegs ia/Jefferson station.  Phase I will be completed when a station opens in Culver City at an undisclosed date this summer.  Phase II, which will connect Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica is scheduled to open in 2015 or 2016.

"The opening of Expo Line Phase I is a critical step towards creating the multi-faceted transit network that Angelenos deserve,” said Mayor Villaraigosa during the morning media tour of the new Expo Line. “When Angelenos rallied together to pass Measure R, voters sent the message loud and clear that we want transit options beyond the single-passenger automobile. Los Angeles has been leading the way to improve and expand our infrastructure and support jobs.”

Guessing the opening date of the Expo Line has been an ongoing game for rail transit supporters.  The Metro Board approved the line in 2005, and the opening date has been a moving target.  Early estimates had the line opening in 2010 and as time progressed, the estimated opening was pushed later and later.  After a crash between a car and a testing train last week, advocates feared the opening would be pushed even farther into the future.  This morning's announcement was the first "official" opening date.

One of the reasons for the delays were the ongoing legal issues surrounding a pair of crossings in South Los Angeles, particularly the crossing of Farmdale Avenue near Dorsey High School.  After plans for a station were approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and a handful of judges, the station was completed and hopefully there won't be any safety issues at the station.

Even as Villaraigosa and assembled transit dignataries were celebrating, Neighbors for Smart Rail were pressing their case that the environmental documents for Phase II of Expo didn't follow CEQA guidelines at an appeals court hearing.  A ruling is expected sometime in April or May which could spell the end to the legal challenges to Phase II or could throw the Phase II timeline into chaos.

But this morning's press event was a happy event, with no mention of the controversies that dogged the project.  Even as the assembled dignitaries were spreading some sunshine about the Expo opening, Metro CEO Art Leahy was looking forward to even more transit openings in the near future.

“Metro is excited about opening the new Metro Expo light rail line, the first time the traffic choked Westside will see rail passenger service in half a century,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “And we’re also gearing up to soon open the Metro Orange Line busway extension to Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. These and other transit projects in the pipeline will give commuters and others real options for parking their cars, hopping on the bus or train and beating high gas prices.”

The full press release from the Mayor's Office can be found below:

MAYOR VILLARAIGOSA ANNOUNCES OPENING DATE OF EXPO LINE PHASE I

Expo Line Phase I will officially open on Saturday, April 28th, as the newest addition to LA’s expanding rail network

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Villaraigosa, Chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, today announced that the Expo Phase I line connecting downtown Los Angeles south to USC and west to La Cienega/Jefferson via Exposition Boulevard will open Saturday, April 28, 2012.
"The opening of Expo Line Phase I is a critical step towards creating the multi-faceted transit network that Angelenos deserve,” said Mayor Villaraigosa during the morning media tour of the new Expo Line. “When Angelenos rallied together to pass Measure R, voters sent the message loud and clear that we want transit options beyond the single-passenger automobile. Los Angeles has been leading the way to improve and expand our infrastructure and support jobs.”
Phase I of the Expo Line will officially open on Saturday, April 28, 2012, as the newest addition to LA’s expanding rail network. The line will initially run 7.6 miles from downtown 7th/Metro to La Cienega/Jefferson. This summer, the Culver City stop will extend the line a mile further. Including the Culver City stop, the Expo Line Phase I will share two stations with the Blue Line downtown for a total of 12 Expo Line stops.

“Metro is excited about opening the new Metro Expo light rail line, the first time the traffic choked Westside will see rail passenger service in half a century,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “And we’re also gearing up to soon open the Metro Orange Line busway extension to Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. These and other transit projects in the pipeline will give commuters and others real options for parking their cars, hopping on the bus or train and beating high gas prices.”
MTA will operate the Expo Line seven days a week starting at about 5AM and ending at about 12:30AM, and is expected to have 27,000 daily boardings.

Phase II of the Expo Line, whose construction began last September and is scheduled to be completed by 2015, will extend from Culver City 6.6 miles out to Santa Monica ending at 4th/Colorado. Together, Expo Phase I and II will be the first mass transit line to connect Downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica in half a century.

“We want to see a region that leads in transit ridership, not gridlock,” the Mayor continued. “To build our transit system faster, we launched the 30/10 initiative and expanded the idea nationwide as America Fast Forward and I continue to urge the House of Representatives to pass a long term transportation bill that includes America Fast Forward.”

The surface transportation bill passed by the US Senate with a bipartisan 74-22 vote would save or create 1.8 million jobs nationwide. The America Fast Forward component of the bill can create up to 1 million additional jobs across the country.

If the House follows the Senate and passes a transportation bill with America Fast Forward, local transit agencies will be able to compete over the next two years for $2 billion in low-interest TIFIA loans.  This would allow Los Angeles to create 166,000 jobs now by accelerating bus and rail projects.

But Los Angeles is not waiting for Washington. In a little over one year, Los Angeles will open three major transportation projects—the Expo Phase I Line, the Orange Line expansion, and the I-405 expansion.  Los Angeles will also break ground on three more major projects—the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, the Purple Line Subway extension, and the Regional Connector. These projects are expected to support over 100,000 jobs.
Expo Line Phase I Station stops:
·        7th / Metro (Shared with Blue Line)

·        Pico (Shared with Blue Line)

·        23rd Street

·        Jefferson/USC

·        Expo Park/USC

·        Vermont/Expo

·        Western/Expo

·        Crenshaw/Expo

·        Farmdale

·        La Brea/Expo

·        La Cienega/Jefferson

·        Culver City (set to open Summer 2012)

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