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 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.

32 replies

  1. The problem with the 105/705 route is that it does not take you SOUTH of Rodeo along La Cienega Blvd. The 439 used to but it doesn’t seem to anymore. I see a bus stop for 217 on La Cienega and Slauson but I can’t find route information to suggest it will connect to La Cienega station. What’s going on with that?


  2. Carter, thanks for this update but unfortunately, Metro is not running a bus bridge between La Cienega Station to Culver City Station during the period when the train will terminate at La Cienega. This means there will be lots of stranded people at La Cienega station pondering how to get to the beach or all points to the west.

    I suppose if we take the long term view of things, this is just a minor hiccup but I have to say that opening Expo to La Cienega without a bus bridge to the final terminus of phase 1 is kind of weak planning. How much would it cost Metro to assign 4 buses to run in a loop (no local stop) between La Cienega station and Venice/Robertson via National Blvd? Something like this would at least enable people to connect from Expo to 733 and BBB12/Super 12 without a 3 bus transfer tap dance just to bridge that 1.5 mile gap.


  3. What about Metro Line 534? When/where will that line connect from the Expo Line to Santa Monica via the 10 Freeway?


    • Hi NM,

      That’s one of the issues that will be considered during the scheduled June service shakeup. Stay tuned for more details.

      Carter Rubin
      Contributor, The Source


  4. Y Kukuzawa I totally agree! I live near Union Station and work in Santa Monica. I could tap from Union and tap again the 7th/Metro transfer, but I’d have to stop at a machine to buy a transfer ticket to Big Blue Bus. That’s so annoying. If I could just buy a month pass and tap the whole way it would be so seamless!

    But even so, all the Big Blue Buses run on the most congested streets so it’s inefficient anyway… As excited as I am about Expo, I’m worried that Phase 1 (even with the Culver City stop) it isn’t going to help my commute. I may just end up continuing to use the BBB Rapid 10, which is a total nightmare on the freeway. Anyone have better suggestions to utilize the subway to get to Santa Monica?


  5. See, this is what I don’t understand.

    Metro’s solution to get to the beach is to transfer to another bus at the current terminus at Culver City. That means paying another $1.50 to the Metro Bus for a short ride to the beach. This adds up to $3.00 for the traveler.

    But once the Expo Line is built (with enough funding), one can eventually go all the way from 7th/Metro to Venice Beach for $1.50 without paying for any transfers.

    If it’s going to be $1.50 for the entire line from 7th/Metro to Culver City when the entire line is built, why not just make traveling from 7th/Metro to Culver City be $1.00 and when transferring from Culver City to Venice Beach on Metro 33 be $0.50?


  6. @Hector G.

    Metro’s fare policy as of today is pay-per-ride, not pay-per-distance. Under a flat rate fare system, we get inflexibilities like this.

    Hopefully Metro will wake up soon to fix the fare policy. IMO, this flat rate policy is one the factors why Metro is deeply in the red and so reliant on tax payers.


  7. I take the 439 to work every day. I get off where Sepulveda meets the 405, near Fox Hills Mall. I take it because it’s direct and only increases my commute time by 50%.

    The 439 will no longer go to Fox Hills Mall. I can’t find out the date service ends because currently the Metro website has no information on that.

    It is being replaced by the 217, but, again, the Metro website has no information. The 217 is listed under “Planned Service Advisories” but the page it links to has no information. No idea if that line runs to Jefferson/La Cienega or not.

    The Culver City 4 runs so infrequently, is timed so poorly, and takes so long to get from point A to point B that it is not a realistic option.

    Metro, will you be overlaying the 217 along the route that the 439 runs between Jefferson/La Cienega and Fox Hills? I would like to take Metro, but currently it looks like I’ll have to go back to driving.


  8. I personally am looking forward to riding the Expo Line this weekend. I’d probably use Expo to go to Downtown LA because it’s a good deal, but I don’t see myself using this to go to the beach for the reasons that Hector G. and Y Fukuzawa mentioned.

    The closest station to my place of residence is La Cienega/Jefferson. If it’s going to cost me $1.50 for one station to the Culver City and if I have to take pay another $1.50 onto a bus to Venice Beach, I’d rather drive the whole way to the beach. Now if that one station train ride plus the bus trip was cheaper, then I’d consider it.

    If I live closer to the beach, why should I pay more than getting into Downtown LA which a lot farther from where I live? Something is not right here.


  9. Same here being a Mar Vista/Venice Blvd. area resident. Getting to Downtown LA will be a great deal for me with the completion of Expo. But on the other other hand, I don’t see any benefit of this taking me to the beach even if Phase II of Expo is completed. For a short ride into Venice Beach, the cost of taking the train and/or bus isn’t worth it.

    I assume it’s the same with residents living near Downtown LA in reverse; not quite a great deal to get into Downtown LA for a short ride as opposed to being a good deal to get to Venice Beach.