Blue and Expo Lines: two-car trains on weekends


Photo by Metro

The pilot program that has been in effect on the Metro Blue and Expo Lines during select weekends this past fall is about to become a permanent feature of weekend service on both lines.

Beginning this Saturday, Jan. 9, and continuing each Saturday and Sunday for the foreseeable future, the Blue and Expo Lines will run all two-car-length trains. If you are riding either line this weekend, or weekends to come, be sure to board at the front or center of the platform, so you’re not chasing your train as it pulls into the station ahead of you!

The program was envisioned as a way to reduce wear and tear on Blue/Expo rail cars, which are some of the oldest in the fleet. Running shorter trains during the weekend, when there are fewer riders, gives Metro’s Rail Fleet Services department more time to work on more vehicles so that they’re ready to operate at full capacity during the week. Ultimately, this means fewer delays due to disabled trains during peak-service hours.

Of course, weekends with big events requiring longer trains to transport extra Blue/Expo Line riders will be taken into consideration. We’ll keep you updated here at The Source and on Twitter @metrolosangeles and @metroLAalerts about any events that will see enhanced service on the Blue and Expo Lines (or other Metro Rail Lines). In the meantime, our maintenance crews will work on keeping our current rail cars running smoothly.

19 replies

  1. I’m still wondering how are they going to service the Gold Line cars if they are isolated on the East L.A.segment of the line while the tracks are moved?

  2. I have NOT been enjoying this weekend service. Might work for Expo, but definitely NOT on the Blue Line. I’m on the train right now and there’s nowhere for me and my kid to sit. (Why did I even pay the fare)? I have to say that this was a really dumb idea and I would really love to know WHO came up with this and what was their rationale? Is there any data at all to back this up because I’m on the train every weekend and don’t see how you can justify this.

  3. This is another terrible idea from Metro, that just further discourages travelers from using Metro–or from voting for future taxes that would go to support further the Metro administration’s continued mismanagement of its system.

    Apparently, Metro does not know that many of its riders visit downtown L.A. on weekends, say for WORK, or for shopping–or even just on the way back south or west from visits to locations in the San Fernando or San Gabriel Valleys.

    Obviously, nobody at Metro knows–or maybe it’s just that no one at Metro cares–how extremely over-crowded some Metro trains habitually become at certain times of day–like peak hours–even on weekends.

    For example, in my recent personal experience, the TWO-CAR Blue-Line trains leaving 7th-Street Metro-Center station southbound on weekends frequently have every seat taken as well as numerous passengers standing among the bicycles, baby carriages, and personal shopping carts–especially in the late afternoon and early evening peak hours.

    Throw in any sort of ordinary delay caused by weather, indifferent Metro train drivers, and/or heavy auto traffic–or, worse, actual traffic accidents–and the experience of riding these TWO-CAR Metro trains becomes incredibly unpleasant.

    For example, on a recent Saturday afternoon, the upstairs train-boarding platform (Platform #2) for Blue/Expo-Line trains at 7th-Street Station was virtually wall-to-wall people for at least 20 minutes while I was waiting for a southbound train.

    When a TWO-CAR Blue-Line train finally arrived, it immediately was filled to overflowing with so many passengers that some persons waiting on the platform decided to give up and wait for the next train–which likely turned out to require yet another LOOONG wait. This first train (which I took) was delayed further at each platform, only partly because of the often unsuccessful efforts of waiting passengers to cram into the already over-crowded train.

    By Grand Avenue Station, I counted about 70 standing passengers crowded into only HALF of the train car I was riding in. Presumably the other half of that car, as well as both halves of the OTHER car (of the two-car train), were equally crowded.

    Interestingly, it was not until well after our train’s departure from 7th-Street Station that the train driver finally announced that southbound Blue-Line service was (and would continue to be) “experiencing delays.”

    Had the driver made this announcement of current and anticipated delays before the train left 7th Street, I (and possibly other waiting passengers) would have left the station to seek some way of getting home other than the Blue Line.

    Funny how Metro never seems to get around to informing passengers waiting at 7th Street Station that they should expect long delays in the system–at least until these would-be passengers already have jammed onto a train car and traveled one or two stops away from downtown L.A. (where the transit options were more numerous).

    If Metro would announce such already known delays and anticipated transit problems to those waiting at the 7th-Street Station–rather than waiting until after we have made the fatal commitment to trying to use the Blue or Expo Line–many of us would give up on trying to use the rail system to travel south or west during rush hours–at least on those frequent occasions when Metro already knows that its overcrowded rail system is experiencing major problems.

    Interestingly, I do not see the same sort of grotesque over-crowding on the Gold-Line trains–even during comparable peak travel times.

    One cannot help wondering whether the predominant ethnicities served by the northbound Gold Line from DTLA and the southbound Blue Line might help explain the radically different levels of service that Metro provides on these two lines.

    If Metro has not been maintaining some of its cars well enough to provide sufficient Blue-Line weekend capacity (three-car trains at least during peak hours), it seems quite unfair to impose the consequences so disproportionately upon its passengers in one particular area of the County, which includes probably its most transit-dependent residents.

    Please respond IN WRITING.

    • As a former RTD/MTA employee it was always all to apparent that the former LACTC and them the MTA after the merger have never been pro public transportation if it interfered with their other agendas. And I still recall that the Blue Line cars can work on the other light rail lines but the other cars on the Green Line and Gold Line will not due to a slight difference in the gauge of the tracks. I believe that is the reason for the massive relaying,upgrades, we have seen on the Blue Line. It is so they can bring those tracks in line with the rest of the system. If that was not the case, excess Green Line cars could be used on the Blue and Expo Lines on the week-ends. There is a connecting track from the Blue Line to the Green Line at I believe the Imperial Station that was built prior to the delivery and final testing of the Green Line Cars so they could use excess Blue Line Cars on the Green Line and prior to three car trains on the Blue Line.

  4. The MBL needs NEW TRAINS and security. It’s unreliable and unruly. Not a 21st Century transportation solution. Get your act together or 2024 isn’t gonna happen.

  5. How about an all-day Los Angeles-Long Beach Express Bus using the Harbor and 405 Express Lanes ? Stops at Harbor Gateway, Wardlow, Willow, PCH, Anaheim St. and Downtown Long Beach.

  6. This is a bad idea. Fortunately I don’t have to take the Blue Line too often on the weekends, but I have been on the train and wondered [what the]. I’ve ridden the Blue Line north from Willow IN THE MORNING on Saturday, ~9:00, and the train was packed when I got on. It just got more and more packed. I travel with a bike and I felt lucky I was able to get on. I saw people with bikes at the other stations that just took a look at the train and passed on getting on. This goes for mothers with kids too.

    This two car trains method works for trains late at night, but in the morning? Good luck!

    Metro should face a fine for running one car trains too! I got on a one car train at 7th street downtown LA, before 10pm. That car was hell with so many people on it! Does anyone even look at the video surveillance images before decisions like this are made?

  7. What Everyone is saying is so True i hate when i go visit my Daughter And Grandkids on the weekend (gold line to the blue line it’s always something 😞

  8. Just use the new cars you guys bought already. They’re just sitting at the yards waiting to service the people of the county.

  9. What is with the complaining? The delay in delivery of train cars has been litigated plenty here and will only get worse when the Expo and Gold Line extensions open, until the new cars start arriving. Metro is supposed to magically pull train cars out of their rear whenever someone doesn’t get to sit down?

    • If one goes into Elysian Park via Broadway they can look down into the current Gold Line Yard. There are row after row of Gold Line cars in storage that are seldom used. There is no shortage of cars agency wide, there is a shortage of cars that can operate on the Blue Line because of a decade old difference in track gauge.

      • I disagree. If you look at the rail yard at peak morning and afternoon hours, there are relatively few light rail vehicles remaining in the yard. Most are in service.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

    • Because the service is only every 12 minutes, blue line trains are more crowded at certain times on weekends than they are during rush hour. Perhaps things have changed, but a couple of years ago when I used to ride more regularly late morning and early afternoon Saturday trains were standing room only even with three cars. I can’t imagine the crush loads with 2 cars by the time the train gets to 7th/metro.

      This is just another example of blue line customers getting the short end of the stick because Metro knows that they won’t complain. At least most won’t. Metro definitely plays favorites. Like how the gold line got the newest trains when it opened and then when newer trains were bought Metro replaced the newest trains in their fleet with even newer trains to make gold line customers happy. The gold line was also the first to get flat screen digital displays. That was 10 years ago. Does the blue line have those yet besides at 7th/metro? The only reason that the blue line is even getting new cars now is because it will share cars with Expo. Metro’s original plan (if you search their meeting archives) was to send the new trains to Expo and refurbish the blue line trains.

  10. This is ridiculous. moved to San Francisco but return here regularly. Bay Area residents wouldn’t stand for it. The train service is the same in all areas ,regardless of economic circumstance or racial/ethnic background. Goes through Oakland, Richmond, Mission District, etc.—suburb, city, doesn’t matter. We’re going back to the days of the RTD. Are they aware that the Santa Monica line (which is the EXPO LINE!) is set to open. Santa Monica and Venice Beach are two of the cities major attractions—ON THE WEEKENDS! Incredible. I’ve always defended L.A. when people from other cities try to make comparisons with transit but this is really a joke. MTA always defends it by citing ridership statistics but ridership is dictated by people’s expectations and experience. Bad experience, low expectations = lower ridership. When MTA wants to build ridership they do—two train stops within a 100 feet right around the USC campus (Expo Park and Vermont Expo).

    Once again, people with automobiles (who ride metro during week to avoid traffic) are privileged over transit-dependent riders. Contact the Bus Rider’s Union if they’re still organizing.

    • So you would rather the trains break down on the weekdays? I’ve rarely seen a full 3 car train on the weekends anyway. The reason why they don’t have rail cars is because the unions tried to push the Metro Board to accept the inferior bid of Breda because they promised union jobs in LA County. Their cars were inferior, but by the time Metro listened to their engineers instead of the all powerful union voices they wasted more than a year.

      • Spot on Matt.

        This is a temporary problem. Now, why Metro does not run an express bus from Long Beach to Downtown L.A. is beyond me.

        Has Metro looked into this, Steve? And just for the record, why can’t Green Line cars be shifted over to the Blue Line for the weekends?