Monday April 23, 2012
Visitors to Los Angeles take note: When the Metro Expo light-rail line opens April 28 it will be the first time passenger rail has traveled from downtown L.A. to the Westside since 1953, when Pacific Electric's Santa Monica Air Line was abandoned in favor of wide sweeping freeways and 8-cylinder engine cars.
When completed to Culver City by this summer, the new line will contribute 8.6 more miles to L.A. County's 79 miles of modern rail -- all of it added since 1990 when the Metro Blue Line opened between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Add to that 87 miles of rail, 180 bus routes and you get a vague idea of the length and breadth of the Metro system that covers 1,400 square miles of Los Angeles County. And in 2016 the Expo Line we see today will be extended to Santa Monica, adding 6.6 more rail miles to the line and culminating at the Pacific Ocean!
Who says Los Angeles doesn't have a mass transit system?
Expo is the latest link in the travel framework being created by the Metro Rail system. Now running three light-rail lines (the Gold, Green and Blue) and two subways (the Red and Purple lines), Metro extends from downtown Los Angeles north to North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, northeast to Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, east to East Los Angeles and south to Long Beach.
Skirting east/west traffic through the San Fernando Valley is the wildly popular Metro Orange Line dedicated busway that opened in 2005 and currently is being extended. This summer the new extension will open to Chatsworth -- gateway to Ventura County, a collection of beautiful communities served by Metrolink commuter rail. The Orange Line will meet the Metrolink Station in Chatsworth.
Also under construction and on target for a 2015 opening is the Gold Line Foothill extension that will carry the line from its current terminus in Pasadena to Azusa -- an 11.5 mile segment funded by Measure R: L.A. County's half-cent sales tax for transit, passed in 2008.
And expected to begin construction next year is the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line, which will run from the Expo Line south to near LAX -- with (finally!) a link to the airport.
All of this in 22 short years ... but who's counting?
Six tips for navigating the system:
1) Plan a day-long itinerary grouped by geographic area so you don't waste time ricocheting from point to point.
2) Go to the trip planner at metro.net to find the easiest route; Google maps is also a good source, although transit is in beta
3) Call 323-GOMETRO (323-466-3876) for help from a live information agent in English or Spanish (best times to call are mid-day) or you can text questions b/t 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
4) Use Nextrip to get real-time bus arrival reports on your phone, laptop or iPad [http://www.metro.net/service/nextrip/]
5) Buy a $5 day pass loaded onto a TAP card in a Metro train station or aboard any bus. The pass allows you unlimited transfers and is clearly the best deals, if more than one location is to be visited.
6) Have fun!
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