SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The Blue Line is back in service with a new name after a $350 million improvement project.
Ribbon cutting ceremonies took place at three different stops on what is now known as the A Line to commemorate the reopening Nov. 2. The events took place in downtown Los Angeles, Watts and Long Beach. Among the special guests were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and rapper Snoop Dogg.
The A Line is the county’s oldest and busiest light-rail line. The 22-mile route connecting Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles originally opened in 1990. The renovations were intended to bring the oldest rail line up to speed with the newer rail lines and enhance customer experience.
Improvements consist of new rail lines, four new crossover switches, an upgraded train control system, a new overhead power system, and, in some sections, new tracks. The stations also received new upgrades including new information touch screens, new station signage, refreshed paint and landscaping
The A Line was the first of the metro rail lines to be renamed as part of a larger goal to rename all rail and rapid bus transit lines by 2022. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors, which governs the county transit system, decided on the new naming convention last year, citing the need for more consistency as the system grows.
“It is important that we have one consistent systemwide naming convention that is simple, easy to read and use,” said MTA Board Chair and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts. “Letters combined with colors will make it clearer to residents and visitors who use our system.”
The new system will be designated by a letter and a color. Under the original system, the train rail lines were named by colors except for the Expo and Crenshaw/LAX line, which were named after streets and places that users may find confusing. The reliance on colors also made it difficult for colorblind people to read as they navigate the trains.
Many residents and train-users believe the name change will have no significant impact in the way they use the train. They believe that those who grew up calling it the Blue Line will continue to do so.
Train-rider Alicia Soto said that she was unaware of the name change, questioning the efforts to inform the public of the change. Soto added that as a Spanish-speaker associating the different lines to colors is an important factor for her.
Other residents are suspicious of the name change for they believe the name change stems from a larger goal to erase the history of the surrounding communities that reside near the rail lines.
“Is it just me or the renaming of the Blue Line to the A Line smells like more of a change of perception of the Blue Line is/was,” resident Alfonso Ruiz said in an online post. “Those that live near the Blue Line know what we mean. This rail line goes through multiple neighborhoods. Black and brown neighborhoods.
“Reminds me of when the county decided to rename South Central to South LA and many of its unincorporated neighborhoods because of perception.”