CULVER CITY — Although passenger service on the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica won’t begin until May 20, trains began running on the route at 12- to 20-minute intervals March 21 to simulate full service as part of the preparations to open the line.
The simulated full service means motorists near the route will encounter lowered rail-crossing gates more frequently. Trains will begin running as early as 4 a.m., and continue until roughly 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and as late as 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the line.
Trains have been running along the new stretch of track for months, but only on a limited testing basis.
With the trains now running at intervals simulating full service, MTA officials reminded motorists and pedestrians to obey warning signs and traffic signals when crossing tracks. Pedestrians were urged not to walk on the tracks, not to jaywalk across tracks and to look both ways when crossing in crosswalks.
The 6.6-mile, $1.5 billion extension will stretch the Expo Line from its current terminus near Venice and Robertson boulevards in Culver City to a station at Colorado Boulevard and Fourth Street in downtown Santa Monica. The extension includes seven new stations, including stops in Palms, West Los Angeles and the area just north of Santa Monica College.
When the extension is opened, the Expo Line will stretch from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, ending at the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station at Seventh and Flower streets.
MTA officials said the ride from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles is expected to take 46 minutes.