Metro Studying Arts District Red/Purple Line Subway Extension

Metro is considering extending its Red/Purple Line subways southeast of Union Station into the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. Diagram Streetsblog L.A., with base map via Google
Metro is considering extending its Red/Purple Line subways southeast of Union Station into the downtown Los Angeles Arts District. Diagram Streetsblog L.A., with base map via Google

Metro’s outgoing CEO Art Leahy spoke enthusiastically at last week’s Metro board Planning and Programming Committee about potentially extending the Red and Purple Line subways into the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The new station or stations would take advantage of existing tracks in Metro’s Heavy Rail Maintenance Yard, which extends southeast of Union Station, sandwiched between the Arts District and the Los Angeles River, mostly between First and Fourth streets, but extending all the way from the 101 Freeway to below Sixth Street.

The item didn’t even rise to the level of full Metro board approval; the board committee merely received and filed a Metro staff report [PDF]. That report joins an earlier staff report [PDF] filed in 2010.

There is already a fair amount of detail covered at Downtown News, Urbanize L.A., and the Los Angeles Times, so SBLA will be relatively brief.

It is clear that adding new “revenue service” to this location where empty trains are already going would be a fairly low-cost way of expanding Metro rail service. As Metro extends the Purple Line subway, the agency is already planning upgrades to this maintenance yard.

Metro has committed to running subway trains with two-minute headways, with service every four minutes on both the Red and Purple lines. In order to meet the improved headways, the agency would need to re-tool some of its tracks east of Union Station.

This includes widening the tunnel portal near the 101 Freeway and creating a “turn-back facility.”

As the Metro staff report [PDF] states:

To support increased service levels on the Red/Purple Lines … a turn-back facility consisting of three tracks and two platforms must be constructed within the [maintenance] yard. [… T]o keep trains moving through Union Station, it is necessary to continue passenger revenue service through to the turn-back facility, at which point trains can be cleared and sent back into service. Designing the turn-back facility to also serve as an at-grade revenue station is a cost-effective method for expanding rail service to the eastern edge of Downtown Los Angeles.

Metro’s next step is to complete its “coordination study,” which is expected this Spring.

What do you think, readers? Should Metro prioritize this relatively low-cost connection? Should there be one stop or two?


  • Lorenzo Mutia

    The stations should be among the priorities, might as well get the low-hanging fruit (if this is low hanging fruit).

  • James Fujita

    That First Street Station looks like it would be about as close to Nishi Hongwanji as the current Little Tokyo one is.

  • AlecMitchell

    The area around the proposed 6th St stop is really poorly served by current transit and is undergoing significant new residential and commercial development. If it could be done for a reasonable price, it would make a lot of sense to provide a station there.

    Not sure the 1st station makes sense, given its proximity to the better located Gold Line and future Regional Connector stop; perhaps if the MegaToys and One Santa Fe developers were paying for it.

  • davistrain

    I haven’t been in this area for some time now–back in 1969 I saw it every day when I worked for the Santa Fe Railway, but in the past 45 years it’s changed greatly. I would vote for stations at 1st and 6th, especially since the trains will be at grade level. The only challenge I see is getting the passengers to the northbound platform at 1st. At least if an overpass footbridge is used, it won’t have to clear trolley wire.

  • Steven Sharp

    Build ’em both!

  • Alex Brideau III

    Both stations (especially if priced to move) would be helpful. The 1st St station will appeal to the hundreds of new One Santa Fe residents and SCI-Arc students while the 6th St station will serve some of the southern part of the Arts District, including that large new development that was just announced for 6th & Alameda that I read about recently (not sure if it was on SBLA).

  • LAifer

    I don’t think this would be as simple as just building a platform at each location and including access points. Consider that the entirety of the rail yard lies alongside the stretch between these two new stops, and trains are constantly being ferried onto and through these yards for preventive maintenance, storage, and emergency repairs. Don’t be surprised to see a pretty large pricetag associated with what we now look at as being as simple as slapping down a slab of cement and some paint.

  • That’s turning into a legit downtown loop. Go Metro!

  • Sean

    The subway runs on a third rail.

  • Jake Bloo

    I’m surprised the owners of these properties (like One Santa Fe or the new development at 6th & Alameda) are not pushing harder for this to happen. Parking down in the Arts District is going to get worse fast.

  • MaxUtil

    True. But it sounds like they have to build up this area to serve the ‘turn-back facility’ and maintenance yard anyway. It’ll be way cheaper than trying to adapt it later to add stops and waaaaay cheaper than acquiring ROW and building a rail extension anywhere else.

  • Andy W

    Both would be great! I’m biased because I live next to 4th St and ride the redline to work everyday. On top of all the reasons why this makes sense, the Arts District is uniquely positioned to be forward thinking in being transit oriented, pedestrian/bike friendly, and overall a neighborhood to reflect a future LA that goes against LA stereotype. We like to think that we walk and interact with each other in the AD. Some neighbors worry too much about decreased parking while development races ahead; building more parking is not the main solution. Less driving by residents and visitors has to be part of the long term solution.

  • Brian

    Another 5 billion to build 2 miles of track. Not worth it!

  • Memo

    stfu dude

  • scottmercer

    Get it on to the new Sixth Street Bridge, then take it under Whittier Blvd., which was what was promised originally. Then it could hook up with the Gold Line as it heads toward Whittier. (I know, a fantasy. But a person can dream.)

  • Brian

    SMDB dude

  • davistrain

    That’s why any structure over Red Line tracks doesn’t have to be as high as one over a light-rail line.

  • Nathanael

    Both should be built. Furthermore, the rebuild should be designed for overbuilds. With Red Line stations this area will become hot property.


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