Expo Line extension marks first anniversary

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week celebrated the dual anniversary of the Expo Line, one of the most popular transit lines the agency now operates.

The first segment of the Expo Line between Seventh Street and Culver City marked its fifth anniversary, and the line’s extension from Culver City to Santa Monica marked its first anniversary.

The Expo Line has become the second busiest of the MTA’s four light rail lines. Only the 22-mile Blue Line between downtown L.A. and Long Beach has more riders.

The Westside also has the highest concentration of jobs outside downtown Los Angeles and many of the Expo Line’s new stops are near major employers.

“For more than six decades the only way we could travel between the Westside and downtown Los Angeles was by automobile or bus,” MTA Board Chair John Fasana said. “After just one year of service to Santa Monica, the Expo Line has fulfilled the promise of offering better mobility for tens of thousands of daily riders.”

“We made history with the opening of the Expo Line extension a year ago — and the extraordinary ridership shows that Angelenos are ready for the future of public transportation,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is the first vice chair of the MTA Board of Directors. “We’re delivering on the promise to ease congestion and bring more convenient transportation options to our communities.”

There have been more than 50 million passenger boardings on the Expo Line since its first phase opened to Culver City in 2012. The MTA projected 64,000 average weekday boardings for the entire line by the year 2030 — a number the line seems poised to reach much earlier.

In March, the Expo Line averaged 59,931 weekday boardings and had 57,176 boardings in April. Due to heavy demand, the MTA increased Expo Line service last October and began running trains every six minutes during peak hours.

“I carried the legislation 16 years ago to create the Expo Authority to build the Expo Line and I knew that this rail line would be a big success if we could just get it up and running,” said MTA board member and county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “The Expo Line offers a long-needed alternative to the Santa Monica Freeway and Westside traffic and it has been great to see Santa Monica invest millions of dollars in new bus, pedestrian and biking connections to the train.”

“Each additional mile of rail, bus service or active transportation improvements helps get people where they need to go,” county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “In 2019, Angelenos will be able to get to the airport via the Crenshaw/LAX Line and have easy access to the communities of Crenshaw, Inglewood and Westchester.”

The Expo Line serves South Park (including Staples Center, L.A. Live and the L.A. Convention Center), USC, Exposition Park, Mid-City, the Crenshaw District and Culver City.

The extension that opened last year has seven stations near destinations including the Palms Farmers Market, the Bergamot Station Arts Complex, Santa Monica College, the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place, Palisades Park, Tongva Park, the Santa Monica Civic Center, the Santa Monica Pier and Will Rogers State Beach.

“The Expo Line serves as a critical east-west connection for the entire L.A. region,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said. “The train also has two convenient stations near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Rams until the Rams’ new stadium is completed in Inglewood.”

The Expo Line project included construction of a light rail vehicle maintenance yard in Santa Monica that can house up to 50 train cars. A paved bike path that runs alongside most of the extension’s route between Culver City and Santa Monica also was built as part of the project.

“The MTA has embarked on an ambitious program to improve our roads and freeways, expand rail lines, enhance bus service and make neighborhoods friendlier for pedestrian and bicyclists,” MTA CEO Phillip A. Washington said. “Projections show that 750,000 people may move to L.A. County in the next decade. We are working now to build the infrastructure to accommodate that population growth.”

The Expo Line was built by the Metro Exposition Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning and construction agency.

The second phase was funded by Measure R, the half-cent sale tax approved by 67 percent of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

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