It’s official now folks: The Expo Line stations at Farmdale and Culver City are open for business. I took a couple hours today to visit both stations and explore the area around them. Here’s my take on each, with an emphasis on the transit connections, station facilities and other notables.
Culver City Station
- Around the station on foot
At the moment, there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity of the station, although that stands to change as Culver City moves forward with plans to develop some of the vacant land around the station into transit-oriented housing, retail and commercial space.
That said, there’s a lot within a 5 to 10 minute walk. To the west, you can reach just about all of downtown Culver City, with its great bars and restaurants, movie theaters and shopping. To the east down Venice Boulevard, there’s the Helms Bakery District — where this post is being typed up — with even more restaurants and an assortment of trendy home furnishing and decor shops.
All told, I really think this is the ideal spot for this station in the long run. As more development goes in around the station, it will provide the ideal connection between the two aforementioned areas, making a continuous stretch of enjoyable outdoor places centered around the Culver City Station.
In the meantime, the current station parking lot strikes me as a great opportunity to host, say, a food truck festival on a weekend day when the lot isn’t too full. In fact, a full time coffee vendor or news stand on site would be a great addition, in this humble blogger’s opinion.
- Bike access and parking
There are ten racks with space for about 20 bikes, plus eight bike lockers. It also looks like there’s plenty of space for more racks if biking to the station proves to be popular — and I figure it will be with bike lanes that run right to the station on Venice Blvd.
- Bus connections
We’ve covered this territory a bit before, but today I had a chance to see how those connections work in person. I timed it at about a three to four minute stroll from the station platform to the bus layover point where the Metro 220, Big Blue Bus 5 and 12, and the Culver City Bus Line 7 stop on Robertson Boulevard just south of Venice. That was at a very leisurely pace, so adjust accordingly if you’re a fast walker.
It was also about a four to five minute walk to catch the 33 or 733 at Venice and National — your best bet to connect to Venice Beach, as well as the Abbott Kinney district in Venice and the Main Street district in Santa Monica.
A gentleman I met around the station also extolled the virtues of the Metro 534 bus that now stops at Venice and Robertson — that’s the express bus that runs from the Washington/Fairfax transit center to Malibu, with stops in downtown Santa Monica. If you time it right, the 534 is probably your quickest route to the beach, though the buses only run every 20 to 30 minutes on weekdays.
- Car parking
If you want to drive to Culver City Station, you’re in luck. There are over 500 surface spaces here for the time being. Eventually, Culver City is planning to develop this sight into transit-oriented housing, retail and commercial space.
- A glimpse of Expo Phase 2
I already knew that the views from Expo’s aerial stations are pretty spectacular, based on visiting the La Cienega and La Brea Stations. But Culver City Station has something those don’t: a view westward along the right-of-way where the second phase of the Expo Line to Santa Monica will lead off. From the platform you can see over Venice Boulevard to where the Expo Construction Authority is amassing concrete barriers, steel beams and other materials in advance of heavy construction starting up later this year.
- Station area
Perhaps the nicest feature of Farmdale Station is the little plaza that sits between the eastbound platform and Dorsey High School. As I strolled around, a passerby told me I looked like I didn’t have a care in the world — and on this breezy-sunny day, the feeling was pretty serene. I’d expect the area to be bustling nicely when school is back in session this fall.
- Bike access and parking
Like at Culver City Station, there are ten racks with room for about 20 bikes. Plus, those coming and going on bikes have the Exposition Boulevard bike lanes at their disposal.
- Neighborhood connections
Farmdale Station figures to be more of a neighborhood-oriented station — as opposed to one with lots of bus and car connections. I expect most people using it will be heading to and from Dorsey High or the many houses and apartments in the vicinity. I think a pretty good comparison would be the Southwest Museum Gold Line Station, whereas the Culver City Station is a bit more like the North Hollywood Red Line Station — lots of transit links, commuter parking and shopping within walking distance.
I’m really excited to see these last two Phase 1 stations open. Farmdale Station will hopefully become a great public focal point for the community it serves. And Culver City Station in particular is going to be one more major destination for everyone already using the Metro system, as well as a key new access point to Metro Rail for everyone on the Westside.
Did you board the Expo Line at Farmdale or Culver City Expo Line Stations today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!