17 things to know about Expo 2 opening on May 20

A westbound Expo Line test train heads toward the Downtown Santa Monica Station at 4th and Colorado Avenue on Tuesday. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A westbound Expo Line test train heads toward the Downtown Santa Monica Station at 4th and Colorado Avenue on Tuesday. Photos by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The long wait for the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica is almost over. Metro CEO Phil Washington announced on Thursday that the 6.6-mile second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica will officially open May 20.

17 things to know: 

•This is the first rail transit to the far Westside since streetcars halted service in 1953.

•The Expo Line will be a good alternative to the congested Santa Monica Freeway. The trip between 7th/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and the Downtown Santa Monica Station is expected to take 46 minutes.

•Many of you voted to pay for this project, which was largely funded by the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008. This is the second rail project funded by Measure R — the first, the Gold Line Extension to Azusa, opens March 5.

•The current Expo Line runs for 8.5 miles between 7th/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and Culver City. The 6.6-mile extension adds seven stations:

–Palms, an aerial station at the intersection of Palms Boulevard and National Avenue.

–Westwood/Rancho Park, a street-level station on Westwood Boulevard, .3 miles south of Pico Boulevard and the Westside Pavilion. This is the best transfer point for buses headed up Westwood Blvd. to Westwood Village and UCLA.

–Expo/Sepulveda, an aerial station on Sepulveda Boulevard, just south of Pico Boulevard. A number of offices, retailers and neighborhoods are nearby, including Sawtelle Japantown.

–Expo/Bundy, an aerial station on Bundy just south of Olympic Boulevard. A variety of offices and retailers are nearby. The station is also about one- to 1.5 miles to the Santa Monica Airport and the neighboring business parks along Ocean Park Boulevard.

–26th/Bergamot, a street level station adjacent to the Bergamot Station arts complex in Santa Monica and across Olympic Boulevard from the Water Garden office complex. Many other offices are nearby.

–17th Street/SMC, a street level station at Colorado and 17th Street that is a .6-mile walk or bike ride to Santa Monica College.

–Downtown Santa Monica, a street level station at Colorado and 4th that is steps away from the Santa Monica Pier, the beach, Santa Monica Place, the Third Street Promenade, the Palisades Park, Tongva Park and the Santa Monica Civic Center.

Click above to see larger.

Click above to see larger.

•Trains will run every 12 minutes at most times of the day with service beginning about 4 a.m. on weekdays and ending around midnight. On Friday and Saturday nights, Metro Rail runs until 2 a.m.

•There will be parking available at three stations: Expo/Sepulveda (260 spaces), Expo/Bundy (250 spaces) and 17th Street/Santa Monica College (70 spaces). Metro staff have proposed a test parking fee program for these stations that still must be approved by the Metro Board of Directors. The fee would be $2 a day for those using Metro Rail.

•A regular adult fare on Metro is $1.75 and includes two hours of free transfers. That means you will be able to travel between Santa Monica and destinations such as DTLA, Long Beach, Pasadena and Hollywood for a $1.75. Please see this page for more info on discounts for seniors, students, the disabled and Medicare recipients. There are also other transit subsidy programs for eligible low-income recipients.

•There is a paved bike path along much of the Expo Line’s second phase — between Culver City and Palms and then between Overland Avenue and Colorado/17th Street in Santa Monica. The city of Los Angeles is working on finding the best route between Palms and Overland Avenue, where the train travels in a narrow trench. There is a bike lane on Exposition Boulevard on the first phase of the Expo Line west of Vermont Avenue. There is a paved bike path between La Cienega/Jefferson Station and Culver City Station. Here’s the Metro bike map.

•Metro Rail will grow to 105 miles of routes with the addition of Expo 2 and the Gold Line to Azusa. Santa Monica will become the 17th city in Los Angeles County to have a Metro Rail station. Including the Gold Line extension to Azusa that opens March 5, the others are Arcadia, Azusa, Compton, Downey, Duarte, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Lynwood, Monrovia, Norwalk, Redondo Beach, South Pasadena and Pasadena.

A Pacific Electric streetcar crossing Motor Avenue in 1953. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library's Flickr page.

A Pacific Electric streetcar crossing Motor Avenue in 1953. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library’s Flickr page.

•The Expo Line largely follows the old Exposition railroad right-of-way that was used by Pacific Electric streetcars and freight trains. The right-of-way was purchased from Southern Pacific in the early 1990s to preserve the corridor for possible future use as a rail line.

•After plans to build the Red Line subway to the Westside went kaput in the 1990s due to funding shortfalls, Metro began seriously studying use the Expo Line corridor to get rail to the far Westside.

•Construction of the Expo Line was done in two phases due to funding availability. The first segment broke ground in 2006 and opened to Culver City in 2012, the same year that heavy construction ramped up for Phase 2.

•The passage of the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase in 2008 provided the funding to continue the Expo Line to Santa Monica. The project cost about $1.5 billion.

Source alum Carter Rubin walked parts of the Expo 2 alignment in June 2011 to chronicle what was left of the old tracks:

Here’s the full set of Carter’s pics on our Flickr page.

•Metro is working on other rail projects that will offer easy transfers to the Expo Line…

•The Crenshaw/LAX Line, scheduled for completion in 2019, will offer a rail connection at Expo/Crenshaw to destinations south, including the Crenshaw business district, Leimert Park, Inglewood, LAX and the Green Line. The Crenshaw/LAX Line will eventually include a station at Aviation/96th, where riders will be able to transfer to the automated train LAX is building to its terminals. The airport is saying their train project could potentially be done by 2023.

•The Regional Connector project will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines in downtown Los Angeles via a 1.9-mile underground tunnel. The Connector will allow Expo Line trains to run all the way to East Los Angeles while another set of trains runs between Azusa and Long Beach. Transfers between the Santa Monica-East L.A. and Azusa-Long Beach lines will be done at any of five light rail stations in downtown L.A. — Pico, 7th/Metro, 2nd/Hope, 2nd/Broadway or Little Tokyo/Arts District.

•The Westside has more than 1.5 million people and is expected to add 300,000 more in the next 20 years. From the Expo 2 environmental study: “The number of jobs is also projected to increase by over 200,000. No significant expansion of existing freeway and street networks is planned to accommodate this growth. The enhancement of public transit provides an opportunity to move more people in a way that is more energy-efficient, and does not require the building of more freeways or widening of streets.

Video from today’s press event announcing the opening date:


Video: preview of the Gold Line Foothill Extension from the operator’s cab

How We Roll: how long does it take to drive from Santa Monica to Pasadena at rush hour?

Podcast: Metro’s new Chief Innovation Officer talks L.A., transit and traffic

New renderings of Crenshaw/LAX Line stations

62 replies

  1. A increase of 300,000 in population and 200,000 new jobs is just another reason to address the gridlock on both Santa Monica and Sunset Bl’s that will see little to no relief with the Expo Line extension. A line down the old P.E. right of way along Santa Monica Bl. would truly relieve hopefully the most extensive gridlock twice each day in the entire Los Angeles area.