Mark your calendars! Metro will officially open the second phase of the Expo Line on Friday, May 20. The new extension will connect “Grand to the Sand,”completing a 15-mile rail project that connects Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica.
Metro CEO Phil Washington announced on Thursday that the seven new stations of the extension will be fully operational to the public in less than three months, bringing passenger rail service to the far Westside and Santa Monica for the first time since 1953. The new rail line is expected to service 64,000 people every day by 2030.The new stops include:
- Westwood/Rancho Park
- 26th St/Bergamot
- 17th St/SMC
- Downtown Santa Monica
These stations will bring riders to attractions such as the Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, Westside Pavilion, and the job-heavy tech and media corridors along Olympic Boulevard. This project is the second rail project funded by Measure R, which was the half-cent sales tax increase that was approved by voters in 2008.I spoke with Washington, who says Metro is working on getting bike lockers at the stations to assist commuters with the last mile. He expects bus service to increase as feeder lines to the new Expo Line stations. Vehicle parking is also available at the Expo/Sepulveda, Expo/Bundy, and 17th St./SMC stations. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he believes the Expo Line extension will bring about a revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles, as well as the areas serviced by the Expo Line. Metro Board Member Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker echoed that sentiment, and believes that it will encourage people to explore neighborhoods they previously may not have visited.
Dupont-Walker also tells me that as commuters begin to choose the Expo Line over driving, they will begin changing their definition of independence. It may be tough for commuters initially to give up the freedoms they have through driving, but will soon realize that time on the train is time they get back. Young people will also see commuting by Metro as a normal thing, and won’t have to make that adjustment to how they view their independence.