New Signal Prioritization Improvements Save Time for E Line Trains

The Metro Expo Line through downtown L.A.  Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
The Metro Expo Line through downtown L.A. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Recent L.A. City Transportation Department (LADOT) signal timing changes have resulted in significant travel speed and reliability improvements for people riding the Metro E (Expo) Line.  According to LADOT Assistant General Manager Dan Mitchell, over the past year new signal prioritization changes have resulted in an average 29 second improvement for westbound trips, and a 64 second second improvement for eastbound trips.

The recent improvements grew out of a 2019 motion (council file 19-1236) by L.A. City Councilmember Mike Bonin. That motion directed LADOT to “maximize signal priority for the Expo Line where it operates in street-running mode.” See earlier SBLA coverage of the motion approval at Transportation Committee and full City Council.

E trains run on their own off-street right-of-way through much of the western portion of the route; there they have full preemption at at-grade crossings (where there are railroad crossing gates.) Closer to downtown the trains run mostly along Exposition Boulevard and Flower Street; there they often wait at traffic lights.

The six-page LADOT staff report notes that the department initially made improvements where trains cross Normandie Avenue. When those changes were successful, they were expanded along Exposition, then along Flower Street, specifically targeting crossing Adams Boulevard, which LADOT describes as a critical mid-point between two stations.

LADOT’s evaluation showed that E Line trains average throughput at various intersections ranged from approximately 80 percent to approximately 95 percent. This represents the percentage of time that trains receive a green light. For Normandie Avenue, earlier prioritization had been at approximately 58 percent throughput and improved to 80 percent.

Mitchell noted that much of the recent improvements and their evaluation took place during COVID-19, so LADOT will now monitor and adjust as train operations – and car traffic – resume normal levels.

Find additional coverage of these E Line improvements at Urbanize.

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