Expo Line to Santa Monica opened Friday at noon

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl returns to acting to promote the Expo Line opening.

Well, the long promise of light-rail service across the Westside to Santa Monica becomes a reality starting Friday at noon. Trains on the Expo Line will go beyond the current western terminus at Culver City all the way to downtown Santa Monica, just a short walk from the pier and the beach. Rides will be free Friday and Saturday and activities are planned along the route.

On the Metro website, blogger Steve Hymon interviews himself about the things that new riders need to know to enjoy the experience. Starting with this exchange:

Hey Steve, when you lived in Santa Monica between 1996 and 2003 and then later covered politics and transportation as a reporter, did you ever believe the train would one day make it to Santa Monica?

No. I thought there was a better chance of a planetary takeover by the apes.*

That’s not a very PR-like thing to say!

There are plenty of questions surrounding the Expo Line opening, including will there be enough parking at stations to attract new transit riders, will riders be satisfied with the 12-minute gap between trains (there's a train car shortage), will 48-50 minutes to and from downtown LA prove attractive to commuters, should train operators have more power to override traffic signals — and the larger civic question of how many people will actually use the service. But this weekend and the first few months are for getting to know the new line and exploring a little.

The new section of Expo Line follows the old train tracks through Palms, Rancho Park and West LA, stops a block from Westside Pavillion and the Apple Pan, skirts the bottom of the Sawtelle restaurant district, dives under the 405 freeway and soars over the wide Pico-Gateway intersection. Trains stop at elevated stations over Sepulveda Boulevard and Bundy Drive before entering Santa Monica and stopping at Bergamot Station and fairly near Santa Monica College. In downtown Santa Monica the terminal station occupies the corner of 4th and Colorado where the Sears garden and automotive store used to be.

The free rides on Friday and Saturday include the entire run from downtown LA's 7th Street Station to Santa Monica. There will be festivities at several of the stations. Santa Monica has sharply raised its parking rates at city lots to ensure that Expo Line riders don't overwhelm the parking availability that has helped feed the city's retail renaissance. The structures along Third Street Promenade continue to offer two hours free. Some routes of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus are also being adjusted to better fit with the Expo Line's presence.

What the ride looks like from the train cabs.

Map of the new stations:


Be sure to check for bus route changes in Santa Monica, Westwood and across the Westside.

bus-service-expo-line.jpgWestwood Boulevard and Ohio Avenue. LA Observed photo

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