Expo Line opens to Santa Monica on May 20

expo-line-bergamot-hymon.jpgExpo Line test train leaving Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Photo: Steve Hymon/Metro.

Metro has now set the date for when rail service resumes to Santa Monica and the beach after a lull of six decades. The extension of the Expo Line will open May 20, adding 6.6 miles of service and six new stations. When the full Expo Line is open, Metro says that riders will be able to go the 15.1 miles between downtown Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles in 46 minutes — quicker than you can do that full trip during the commuter rush hours (but longer than via freeway on, say, a Sunday morning, not counting parking time.)

Given how downtown Santa Monica is already overrun with visitors and tourists on weekends and in the summer, it's hard to imagine the district happily absorbing that many more people. But still, the rail link to Westside communities, to the Mid-City area, and to USC and downtown — as well as to the rest of the Metro rail system — sure feels like it could be a game changer. Technically, though, don't buy the hype that the Expo Line goes to the beach. It stops at 4th Street, so the terminus is about four blocks and a descent from the Palisades down to Santa Monica Pier — and while there is a perfectly fine fairly wide beach on both sides of the pier, I think most people prefer a somewhat less crowded beach experience.

Test runs of the trains are an almost-daily sight now along the Expo Line extension, and the new traffic lights are on where there didn't use to be any. So pay attention. Here are 17 things to know about the Expo Line posted today on Metro's The Source blog.

The Gold Line extension beyond Pasadena to Azusa opens on March 5.

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