Beyond phase one: making connections to the Expo Line

Though it looks a ways away, Century City will be only one bus connection away from the Expo Line. Photo by Carter Rubin/Metro.

Phase One of the Expo Line will soon put transit riding Angelenos within walking distance of a slew of destinations previously not served by Metro Rail: USC, Exposition Park, Mid City and Culver City, among others.

But many transit trips don’t begin and end by walking to and from the same line; we often depend on making connections to other modes of travel — buses, bikes or a ride from a friend.

The Expo Line is rich in those connections too. This post will highlight some of connecting bus lines, many of which you already know, and hopefully some that are new to you.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that Metro’s Trip Planner, Google’s Transit Directions and Metro’s smartphone app are easy and reliable tools for planning your next transit trip — use them!

First we’re going to break it down by transit agency and the lines they offer, with an eye to describing how to get to a couple major destinations that are reachable via one transfer from the Expo Line.

Metro Los Angeles Rapid and Local

When the Expo Line opens to the public this Saturday, all Metro Rapid and Local lines that cross the Expo Line at a station will now have stops at those Expo Line stations. That’s pretty straightforward. So if you’re traveling along the Expo Line and you need to head further south or north along, say, Vermont Boulevard, you can just hop off the Expo Line at the Expo/Vermont Station and transfer to either the 204 Local or the 754 Rapid. The Vermont buses and those listed below all run every 15 minutes during daytime hours – and often more frequently.

The Expo Line (in light blue) shown along with other Metro Rail lines and the Metro Rapid bus network. (Local buses not pictured.)

The same goes for the following Expo Phase One stations (listed East to West, excluding stations already served by the Blue Line):

For additional Metro Bus connections, check out the new Expo Line page on Metro.net and click on the “Connections” tab. The recently released Expo Line time table [PDF] details further information on Metro connections.

And stay tuned for some more changes that will go into effect starting in June. Those will ensure that Metro’s buses in the area better serve Expo stations. We’ll have more details on The Source when they become available.

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus

This map shows a proposal for how the Big Blue Bus Rapid 12 will connect Culver City Station to UCLA. Photo by Big Blue Bus.

When the Expo Line opens to Culver City Station this summer, you can look forward to two frequent, all-day transit connections via the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.

First, to connect the Expo Line to Century City — a major Westside jobs and entertainment center — Big Blue Bus is rerouting Route 5.

Instead of having an eastern terminus at Pico and Rimpau, Route 5 will start at the Culver City Expo Station and travel northward along Robertson Boulevard to Pico Boulevard, then jog northwest to the heart of Century City at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars. From there, Route 5 will continue west to downtown Santa Monica via Olympic Boulevard and Colorado Avenue.

Second, to connect the Expo Line to Westwood and UCLA, Big Blue Bus will change the terminus of its popular Route 12 to Culver City Station. Furthermore, the current “Super 12″ service — which has a streamlined route to campus and fewer stops — will be converted to a Rapid 12. Both the “regular” 12 and the Rapid 12 lines will travel from the Culver City station, through Palms and up Westwood Boulevard to the Westwood Village and UCLA campus.

Additionally, Route 6 makes a handful of runs between the future Culver City Station and Santa Monica College on weekdays.

Linda Gamberg, Public Information Coordinator at the city of Santa Monica, added that the city, which operates Big Blue Bus, will monitor how the Expo Phase One changes ridership patterns and will consider increasing service frequency on Lines 5 and 12, if the demand warrants it and if the city’s resources allow for it.

Furthermore, because the Expo Line will reach Culver City before class at UCLA starts up again, Big Blue Bus wants to see how that may affect travel patters on the Westside. Any further service changes in response would not likely happen until February 2013.

Culver City Bus

For now, your only opportunity to connect directly to a Culver City Bus route is at La Cienega station. There you can pick up Line 4 and take it to West L.A. Community College and the Culver City Transit Center.

Due to recent funding cuts, Culver City Bus will not be able to add any permanent additional service — i.e. more frequent buses — to Expo Line stations. Rather, Culver City transportation planner Diana Chang informed me that the agency intends to take a “wait and see” approach to determine if the arrival of the Expo Line increases the number of travelers on Culver City’s buses.

If Culver City Bus sees an uptick in ridership, it’s prepared to provide additional service on a trial basis, and then consider permanent changes down the road.

That’s all great, but how do I get to the beach?!

Good question! When Expo Phase One is open all the way to Culver City, your best bet is probably going to be taking the Expo Line to Culver City Station — that’s Phase One’s western terminus at Venice Boulevard and Robertson Boulevard — and then transferring to the 733 Rapid bus or the 33 Local bus, which runs westbound on Venice Boulevard to Venice — just two blocks from the boardwalk — and then up to downtown Santa Monica and the pier.

Another option: Bring a bike and exit the train at La Cienega/Jefferson station. Take the bike path on the south side of the station west for a block, cross the bike and pedestrian bridge over Ballona Creek and then veer right to pick up the Ballona Creek bike path that will take you to Marina del Rey and connections north and south to the Marvin Braude bike path.

Final Thoughts

As always, I’ll add the caveat that it’s good to check Metro’s Trip Planner or Google Maps to find the fastest route. Depending on where you live and the time of day, it might be fastest just to take one bus all the way to your destination, instead of making the connection to the Expo Line.

Lastly, if you have any specific questions about routing and Expo Line connections, I’ll do my best to field them in the comments section below.

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