This has got to be one of the most exciting milestones in LA’s march towards urbanization (i.e., making our city more walkable and transit-oriented). One of the largest urban nodes in LA — Santa Monica — is now finally linked into our growing regional rail network, which now includes 105 miles of Metro rail track. The long, long-awaited opening of the last leg of the 6.6 mile Expo Line Phase II has finally arrived after five years of construction, testing, and anticipation. Finally! Angelenos can now take the train from Downtown LA to the beach and vice versa.
The new Expo Line service to Santa Monica began at noon on Friday, May 20 attracting hordes of transit riders eager to experience the first train service to the Westside in over six decades. My trip started at the 7th/Metro subway station in Downtown LA. Fast forward: the moment we started to pull out of the elevated Culver City station, as we sped past high above Venice Blvd, was really when I had to pinch myself. Stopping at each new station (there are 7 total new stations) as we headed westbound was definitely a treat, but nothing was more exciting than finally coming to the end of the line — Downtown Santa Monica.
It was amazing to walk out of the brand new station and know that the ocean was only a few blocks away (and be greeted by Bloomingdale’s across the street!). As a life-long Angeleno, I’ve been to Santa Monica a million times before, but the experience of getting there without a car — this time by rail — was almost surreal for me. The added bonus of having bike share at the station makes it even more convenient to get around once you arrive by rail.
Timing the trip both directions (going there and coming back to Downtown LA’s 7th/Metro station), it took about 53 minutes each way. I am really hoping that eventually Metro will speed up the service to attract more riders because this is definitely a line I think a lot of people will want to use. Perhaps gates can be added to rail crossings at Expo/Vermont and Expo/Western to help speed things along?
Enjoy the pics below from the grand opening day!