No opening date for Expo Line yet

A southbound Expo Line test train on Flower Street on Thursday evening. The "dry brush" effect was applied in Photoshop. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

As some of you are surely aware, the Internet has burped forth news that a potential opening date for the Expo Line was discussed Thursday at a meeting of the Board of the Expo Line Construction Authority, the independent agency charged with building the project.

The bottom line: No opening date has yet been determined by Metro, the agency that will operate the line and the agency that makes the final call when to open the line. Nor has there been a decision made whether to open the train to La Cienega or Culver City, the final stop of the Expo Line’s first phase.

As was discussed at the meeting, work continues on the signaling and electronics system at the junction of the Blue Line and Expo Line tracks in downtown Los Angeles. Expo test trains continue to pass through the junction; I watched several during rush hour Thursday evening. In Culver City, work is underway on the transit plaza and parking at the Venice/Robertson station (see below).

We’ll let you know as soon as there’s news to report on the opening day. In the meantime, we’ll continue to roll out posts about the Expo Line in anticipation of the train’s debut.

The Culver City aerial station at Venice/Robertson. Work is underway on the transit plaza and parking for the Expo Line. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

 

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15 replies

  1. I look forward to the trains opening on the expo line. I pass by the tracks on my way to work on the weekends and sometimes see the mta employees taking a break at starbucks (La Cienaga and Jefferson)when I go in for breakfast. Keep up with the good work and keep building these types of lines in LA County, we need them. Keep all the testing for the safety of all. A rushed job is rarely a good job. Take it all the way to Culver City. It will generate more money. I would definately ride just to go downtown Culver City, shopping and movies.

  2. So back in December the Expo Authority told us the ATP in the junction would be fixed in a ‘matter of days’; three months later, it is still not working and we have no firm timetable for opening. The mismanagement on this project continues to astound. Heads should roll if this line doesn’t up by the new definitely-not-a-deadline-of-any-sort of May.

    • Hi John;

      There is no deadline for the opening other than this: it will open when it is ready. I know people are anxious for it to open but this is hardly the first time that issues with a major infrastructure project needed to be first resolved.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Steve,
    I think it just gives many pause that the signaling problem was supposed to be fixed in December, according to Richard Thorpe, but remains a “significant” issue in March. It implies that Metro/Expo/contractor is still vexed over it and we’re actually no closer to fixing it. Are outside people being brought in? Is hardware/software being replaced? Is there talk of tearing up the junction? I think the public would be much assuaged with regular updates, ala the Gold Line Foothill Extension. People really feel in the dark about this project. -NB

    • Hi Neal;

      I don’t believe Metro officials said it would be fixed in December. I don’t know the answers to your questions — I would talk to Metro communications or the Expo Line Construction Authority. I’m not trying to be evasive — I’m just trying to be honest. I don’t know. As for a timeline for project opening, I think Metro has been very consistent in its messaging: it will open when it’s ready.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. Hi Steve:

    I appreciate your efforts to engage with your readers about this project. I think Neal has a point, though — the lack of regular information about the ongoing construction work is frustrating and leads to disillusionment with this project. I know once it opens these kinds of feelings are likely to fade, but for those of us who have watched it get planned and built, it’s frustrating to be stuck with no information to help explain to our friends who wonder why we’re such transit geeks. 🙂

    You’ve done a good job answering the question of “When will it open,” so I’ll ask some different ones: What’s the issue at the junction? What does an Automatic Train Protection system do, and why is it important to have it there? Or, instead, Why do these Construction Authority organizations get created for these infrastructure projects, instead of just having Metro or LADOT manage the construction? How are the contractors and subcontractors chosen and what is the management structure?

    Maybe one of the behind-the-scenes pieces The Source has been running (How do they wash buses? How do they re-route service?) could look into that system and explain the issues a bit for those of us who would like to know more than just “When will it open?”

    • Hi Alex;

      I’ll answer your questions generically and perhaps we’ll write more.

      1. The ATP is designed to keep trains at safe distances from one another. It’s important on any line and it’s especially important where two lines converge and where trains will be running frequently.

      2. It’s an electronics and circuitry issue with the ATP. It works, but not as well as it needs to.

      3. Construction Authorities have been created for all sorts of reasons. Mostly they’ve been created when elected officials and the public want to have one organization solely dedicated to one project. Within politics and government, there’s been an ongoing debate about whether Authorities are the best approach. I think there’s good arguments on both sides of this one. You can learn more about the management structure and contracting on any Authority website (http://www.buildexpo.org for the Expo Line). I don’t think the structure or contracting is radically different than for any other agency.

      I know some people would like more frequent updates. We’ve been trying to get the word out that testing is ongoing and that it’s going to take some time. I’m not sure that a blow-by-blow daily account of testing or construction issues would necessarily be helpful to getting the project completed in the right fashion.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. Hi Steve,

    You say that “Metro has been very consistent in its messaging: it will open when it’s ready.” That’s almost like saying “it will be ready when it’s ready,” which is the kind of phrase people use when speaking to children. Also, you say that the Internet “burped forth news” about a potential opening date. What, exactly, do you mean by “burping forth” in this context? Sounds like you’re accusing L.A. Curbed of some kind of untoward social behavior.

    You see, the public and “the Internet” would be more understanding if this were early 2011, or summer 2011, or fall 2011, or perhaps even early 2012. But there seems to be no end in sight to the problems. Anticipation is cool, but not forever, and certainly no longer so.

  6. This Metro Duo is as impatient as everyone else to see the Expo Line opened — one of us lives near the Gold Line in Pasadena and the other near the Expo Line in Palms — but we want it safe for all, so keep on working!!! We’re all ready to ride!
    In the meantime we’ve turned to the Big Blue Bus #10 Rapid from Union Station and other bus alternatives. But the Expo Line will be the best for us — and we will ride!

  7. There better not be a ribbon-cutting celebration for this project. That would just be celebrating failure. Can you imagine Japan or China celebrating a train line that opened two years late and millions over-budget? The project leaders for this debacle should not be congratulated.

  8. For a different article in The Source, I wrote that the wikipedia page for the Metro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_County_Metro_Rail) had a projected opening of April 2012 for the Expo Line. Apparently it had been updated recently because it is now listing May 2012 as the new expected opening for the light rail line. [Again, this is UNOFFICIAL!]

    I understand that the Expo/Aqua Line was supposed to open about a year ago and Neil Broverman and Robert Diaz make good points in that the unexpected delays in completing construction of the Expo Line have made the wait a lot more unbearable for many of you out in L.A., especially when a problem that may or may not take a few days to fix ends up taking three months or longer to solve. [I’m from the Bronx and even we New Yorkers have been waiting generations for the Second Avenue Line!] But I have to agree with Steve Hymon and others when they say that SAFETY is the number 1 priority in getting the Expo Line done right.

    I echo Metro Duo’s sentiments when he wrote, “We want it safe for all, so keep on working!!! We’re all ready to ride!”

  9. Of course the system suppose to be safe. It also suppose to be on time and in budget. Many are waiting on this line to open, Some for more the 20years.
    This is just an other example of poor planning and poor engineering. Although some construction delays are understandable, there is no excuse for the poor software at the Red Line Intersection. This is not the first line that has an intersection. This is no accountable agency that does what it wants and gets away with it.

    Then the Metro will come back to the voters, and want more money to waste on the next projects. Good luck on that.

    And you wonder why Angelinos have an hard time getting excitied about mass transit.

    DO IT and DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

  10. Of course safety is of paramount importance, but do we have to wait for the Culver City park and ride lot to be finished. The LaCienega parking structure is completed — but empty. Do we really have to wait until Culver City station is completely finished, when the other stations are finished and ready? It is frustrating to watch the trains run by — empty –.