How We Roll, June 3: should you believe the L.A. transit hype?

Good morning from The Source satellite office in Mason, Ohio, where I’m on parental-unit duty this week…

From the Department of Twitterers Angry About Traffic: 


Don’t believe the L.A. transit hype (Zocalo Public Square) 

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica hasn’t delivered the commuting relief that Zocalo’s Joe Mathews was hoping for. It’s still faster to drive from his home near the Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley to his job in DTSM whereas the commute using the Gold Line, Red/Purple Line and Expo Line is regularly taking four hours.

The crux of the article, which I thought was very fair:

I also felt frustrated—at California’s underwhelming ambition. Over and over in this state, from our famously frugal governor to our tax-phobic voters, we tend to choose the cheaper, easier path rather than the better, arguably necessary, one. For this vital east-west axis, Metro and local governments didn’t have to create a relatively cheap and slow light-rail line that stops at traffic lights. They could have built a proper subway-style line to whisk people efficiently over greater distances. That would have better served their cities, and attracted more riders (There were 12,000 Expo Line rides on the seven new stations my first day—as many people as board the New York subway every three minutes). But that would have cost a lot more money, and it would have been nearly impossible to get political support and funding.

Some thoughts:

•That last sentence hits the nail on the head. Each of the projects in L.A. County requires the support of the Metro Board and that usually means spreading the available funding across several projects in different parts of the county. The Metro Board ultimately decided to spend about $2.5 billion to build the entire Expo Line as light rail and $6-billion-plus for the Purple Line Extension subway to Westwood — a two-prong approach to getting rail transit to the Westside. And the Regional Connector — a 1.9-mile light rail tunnel with a cost of $1.4 billion — is getting built in DTLA to link the Gold, Blue and Expo Lines, and will shave some minutes off the time it takes to travel to/through DTLA by reducing the need to transfer.

•This isn’t the first time that the Expo Line’s speed has been mentioned in media coverage in less than a flattering way. I think it’s important for everyone to understand that for worse or better, the environmental studies for these projects never begins with the question ‘how do we get from A to B in 25 minutes?’* Rather, the question begins with ‘how do we improve transportation in this corridor?’ That results in several alternatives being studied with Metro staff recommending one based on several factors, including cost. When choosing among alternatives, speed is usually one factor. But not the only factor.

•As for the traffic signal situation along the Expo Line, I’ll repeat what we’ve said before: the signals are controlled by the cities where they are located. Most of the street-running part of Expo is in the city of Los Angeles. Metro works with LADOT (the city’s transportation agency) to coordinate the signals and train schedules, but ultimately the timing of the signals is up to LADOT. There are also street crossings without gates due to space constraints (for example, to accommodate things like left-turn lanes), meaning the train must adhere to traffic signals to get across those intersections.

•I do think that the Expo Line will serve well those who live in the Expo corridor, which is densely populated with DTLA at one end and DTSM at the other — and the riders in that corridor will have the quicker transit commutes. As for the long-distance commuters, I think the Purple Line Extension subway will be faster. Of course, that’s with a caveat. At this time, there are no plans to extend the Purple Line beyond the VA Hospital in Westwood. But the subway is expected to travel between DTLA and Westwood in about 25 minutes and that should be helpful for riders traveling to the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood from DTLA and the San Gabriel Valley. Put a bus lane on Wilshire all the way between Westwood and DTSM and it may prove to be a quicker option for some riders.

So, should you believe the transit hype? My best guess is that it probably depends on where you live, where you commute, your access to a car, how much you want to spend traveling both in terms of money and time. Not every project is going to serve every resident equally but I think -that the county’s still emerging rail transit network is getting better and — as Joe concludes — perhaps it’s a positive that we can now pick our poison (cars or driving) when traveling long distances.

What do you think?

*Now that I think of it, there is one exception: the state Legislature mandated in the state bond measure for the California high-speed project that the bullet train be able to travel between L.A. and S.F. in two hours, 40 minutes. The obvious problem: the $9.95-billion measure doesn’t provide nearly enough money for such a high-speed project, the reason why funds are still being sought to build the bullet train.

How the new Expo Line to downtown changed my life (LAT)

Columnist Robin Abcarian gives Expo a try on her Venice-to-DTLA commute, using Lyft to reach the Expo station. Her conclusion: driving remained much faster, but Expo allowed her to escape the confines of the car and see a side of L.A. she barely knew existed and meet a lot of people — both familiar and not — along the way.

Metro’s Quality of Life report puts livability at the center of transportation (Investing in Place)

Positive review of the agency’s first Q of L report, released on Tuesday. This sentence says it better than I did in our post: “With this report, Metro broadens its focus from just commutes and congestion to a suite of objectives that provides a more complete understanding of how safe and reliable transportation options enrich our communities.”

10 Instagram accounts to feed your inner transit nerd (Wired) 

Guess who is No. 1? Metro’s Instagram account, curated by my colleague Anna Chen! From Wired:

Los Angeles may be the country’s car mecca, but it’s also home to the gold standard of transportation accounts. LA Metro is not only in the midst of a precedent-smashing increase in light rail service. It also provides beautifully composed photos of Santa Monica beaches (get there on the new Expo line!), real transit love, and too-chic Angelenos commuting while hot. These cats are so media savvy, they even got on the tiny Drake meme.

Amtrak was ranked second and the New York MTA snagged sixth. LAX was also a top 10 finisher. From our account, which features both our own pics and those of riders:

Lines. || photo 📷 @mpkelleydotcom #GoMetro #transitphotography #LoveMetroLA

A photo posted by Metro (@metrolosangeles) on


Can’t get on the Gold Line? Metro will run more trains (SGV Tribune)

The couple of riders interviewed are pleased that beginning June 27 all Gold Line trains will run between Azusa and East Los Angeles and trains will run every seven minutes during peak hours. More about that here.

Things to watch whilst transiting 1: Finally got around to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which was entertaining and only 29 percent as dumb as I expected it to be. One thing I didn’t get: if you’re going to purposefully crash three hovering aircraft carriers, wouldn’t it be best to move them over the countryside first instead of downing them over D.C.?

Machu Picchu 1

Things to read whilst transiting:Turn Right at Machu Picchu” by Mark Adams is a funny and totally entertaining book about a novice hiker’s trek between several prominent Inca ruins, including their most famous one.

Reader poll! I have a long night of flying on Sunday from Cincy to L.A., most of which will be suffered in a middle seat. Based on several criteria (quality, grossing out people in seat next to me, etc.), which do you most recommend:

36 replies

  1. Steve, not sure if it is only temporary or not. During certain sections on the expo line extension the train will run very slow. I understand that with crossings and other traffic concerns this happens, but the long section it runs slow on is completely grade separated and runs parallel to the freeway. I can’t remember the exact section, on my next ride I will make a note of the section.

    Thank you.

    • Hi dayhalk;

      I think I know the sections you’re talking about — between Palms Station and the entrance to the tunnel under the 10. I’m not sure what the issue is in terms of speed but will talk to the ops folks when I’m back in L.A.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the Regional Connector is an awesome project. I usually get to Metro Rail in East LA. Allowing people to go directly through Downtown LA without having to change trains will save a ton of time for certain trips. Even trips to certain parts of Downtown will be faster because you won’t have to transfer to Red/Purple.

    If you think about it, it’s very hard for transit to compete with driving on speed. Even if every transit line were fully grade-separated, the average speed would still be only around 30 MPH. Transit’s advantage is in not having to drive, not having to pay to park, and in serving denser, pedestrian-oriented areas. Land use patterns have always been key to making transit work well. As long as we insist on sprawl, the car will always be the dominant form of transportation. It’s the only form of transportation that can be convenient in that environment, since the distances to cover are so great and the cost to run convenient transit in that environment is prohibitive. However, as LA’s housing gets increasingly expensive, the logic of building more densely, in a way that is more oriented towards pedestrians and transit, is almost inescapable.

    The Expo Line will be with us for decades, and hopefully centuries. It’s too early to fully assess it’s effect on our city, but it will be significant.

  3. Correct me if I am wrong. Is Regional Connector creating more transfer or less? Based on the line map available, it seems that the number of trips needed to go from the foothill extension or union station to DTSM will remain to be 2, and a transfer will be required even if people want to go from Azusa to Union Station.

    Did Metro do a study on travel pattern before building regional connector? What is the reason to connect East LA to Santa Monica and San Gabriel Valley Cities to South LA Cities like Compton and Watts? I guess it makes much more sense to connect the foothill and Pasadena section to Westwood and Santa Monica.

    • Hi Stephen;

      Under the operating plan for Regional Connector, there will be one light rail that will run from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles. The other light rail line will run from Azusa to Long Beach.

      So, to travel from (for example) Azusa to Santa Monica: Board a southbound train in Azusa and then at any of five DTLA stations (Little Tokyo, 2nd/Broadway, 2nd/Hope, 7th/Metro and Pico) leave the train and stay on the platform and wait for a Santa Monica-bound train.

      That is one less transfer than the current set-up, in which you would travel from Gold Line to Red/Purple Line to Expo Line. Passengers coming from East L.A. will not have to transfer to reach Santa Monica.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. I just downloaded a YouTube video at and was disgusted at what I saw.

    East of Crenshaw, there were several streets at which the train had to stop due to the lack of crossing gates. At least the train did not have to stop twice at this station. A background comment said “at least the light worked this time.”

    At the Western Station the train had to stop for traffic BEFORE making the station stop. This is unacceptable. At one station (I can’t recall which one), after making the stop the train had to wait for a light to change. There is a sufficient gap between the station and the street where a train could wait while gates came down. Instead, the train had to wait for traffic light to change.

    I must note here that the Long Island Rail Road has over 300 grade crossings, many of which are in the over-running third rail territory. Several stations are so close to streets that the gates are down during the entire duration of the station stop. In at least one instance, the 12-car trains are so long that they exceed the length of the platform and actually block the adjacent streets while stopped at the station. If the LIRR can do this in third rail territory, why not Metro?

    The worst example in this video YouTube was that it took over 25 minutes to travel from USC to 7th-Metro. Part of this delay was a 5 to 6 minute wait for a Blue Line train to change ends at the west-most track and leave for Long Beach. At the same time there was an Expo train on the other track. I don’t know if this was a normal situation, but perhaps the 2nd Expo train could have left via the scissors cross-over before the Blue Line train left, leaving the east-most track unoccupied and thus allowing the incoming Expo train to platform..

    I realize that this will change when the Regional Connector is in service. In the interim, I think that Metro should have the Expo trains always use the east-most track for boarding with the Blue Line trains continuing to use the west-most track. To facilitate passenger access to either platform, perhaps Metro could place a temporary foot bridge over the scissors cross-over between the loading platforms and the two tail tracks. This bridge could be removed using a gantry crane if access to the tail tracks was needed. As an alternative to storing out-of-service equipment on these tail tracks, these cars could be stored on the Blue Line tail tracks on Washington where the line turns south to its ROW.

    • LIRR is heavy rail, not light rail, so it’s subject to a different set of regulations. Specifically, I believe it’s illegal for heavy rail to be controlled by the same lights that control cars, so there’s no question of signal preemption — trains get priority, period. By choosing to build street-running light rail, Metro left open the possibility of giving priority to automobile traffic. Of course, it may be that building a dedicated guideway in these sections was politically unfeasible.

      • Commuter trains are not technically heavy rail, which usually means subways and elevateds in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere.. To me, commuter rail and light rail should be subject to the same regulations since they both carry passengers. The only physical difference seems to be that since light rail vehicles can operate on streets and can stop more quickly, they are treated as second-class citizens, the same as buses, when compared to autos which are given unjustified preference.

        Personally, I would have preferred an electrified and frequent LIRR-Metro North type of system instead of Metrolink. Closer to home, a system such as Caltrain on the San Francisco peninsula and Metra in Chicago is what LA ready needs. Both of these systems have numerous grade crossings but the trains do not have to obey traffic signals. In addition, Caltrain is being electrified to provide better service.

        Commuter rail vehicles, with the exception of the South Shore Line in Michigan City (see normally do not operate on surface streets but, like the Orange Line, normally operate in a dedicated right-of-way usually shared with Amtrak and freight railways and thus are FAR-comliant for collision protection as is Metrolink.

      • That may be the case, but to me both commuter trains like the LIRR and MetroNorth and light rail trains should be covered by the same regulations since they both carry large number of passengers. Instead, because LRTs can also operate on streets they are treated as second class citizens as are buses compared to automobiles. It’s sad when a few autos carrying a handful of passengers can stop a train carrying as many as 300 passengers. This is downright ridiculous! Mayor Garcetti needs to “get off his rear end” and take action.

        Commuter (and regional rail) systems are technically not heavy rail systems, which are usually subways and elevateds such as in New York, Chicago, and even the Red Line. Ironically, subway cars should be lighter per passenger than commuter cars as the latter have to be FRA-comliant for collision protection as they share tracks with Amtrak and freight trains.

        IMHO, Metrolink should have been patterned after Caltrain on the San Francisco Peninsula with more frequent service, especially midday. It also should have been electrified, as Caltrain will be by 2020.

    • I should add that in the YouTube video there is a long segment where a trash truck on Exposition Blvd. keeps pace with the Expo train, even when the train is on the dedicated ROW.

  5. I think the criticism of the slowness is valid. I am mostly a Metro supporter, but they need to place a greater emphasis on speed when planning the rail lines. No, the light rail lines will never be as fast as a subway, but was a Farmdale stop necessary? It wasn’t planned originally and there was no reason for it other than the Expo Authority did not want to build a pedestrian crossing. Now we have an unnecessary 2 minute delay every trip and a crime ridden station that the few people who do use complain about needing much more security, which the Metro crime stats back up.

    Yes, it is up to cities to allow for signal preemption, but Metro should put more pressure on cities to accomodate speed when planning these lines. Say LA doesn’t want to do signal preemption on a line then that project should score lower on priority list compared to other projects as it will be less productive. That will get cities attention to see if they really can’t do signal preemption.

    Even on the grade separated sections, some LA light rail is pretty slow. The Eastside Gold Line coming out of Union Station comes to mind. Overall, there is too much of a feeling lets just get it built and not think of speed and operating costs. By the way, a slower line is also much less cost effective to run. Say Expo was 40 minutes instead of 50. The 50 minute line requires more trains and thus more overall expense to operate the same 12 minute service.

  6. While, like Steve, I understand some of Joe Matthews’ frustrations regarding the new Expo Line extension, I’m disappointed that he took only one trip to evaluate the line. That would like be taking one car trip on the freeway, getting stuck behind a major traffic accident, and complaining about how long it took.

    Joe’s experience certainly doesn’t jibe with my trip last week. I traveled from the Highland Park Station to DTSM and it took a total of 1:20 going and 1:30 coming back (we got stuck in a signal SNAFU coming back). Based on Joe’s article, starting and ending in Pasadena would have been 1:35 going and 1:45 returning. We experienced none of the issues he encountered beyond the shouting Jesus freak and the extremely crowded train coming back (we left DTSM at 4:30). Consequently, if Joe was taking 90 minutes each way to drive, the Metro trip is about a push and, considering the price, it’s a tremendous bargain.

    BTW: If Joe had gotten stuck big time on the freeway coming home, he would have paid a “late fee” at his kid’s preschool. If you live in the SGV and commute to Santa Monica, that’s going to happen occasionally.

    Of course every rider wishes that the entire system was an underground subway but many of those people would have kvetched to high heaven at paying the bill through higher taxes. Of course riders want signal priority for trains — it’s our job to demand from our elected representatives that this happen and that we vote for those people who will make this happen.

    The good news is that things will smooth out on the new lines (Expo and Gold).

  7. Steve – I think that your comments about the merits of the Purple Line vs. the Expo Line for long distance commuters are spot on.

    But here’s an example of how Joe Mathew’s comments about Metro’s “underwhelming ambition” is unfortunately emblematic of its transit planning for the next 50 years, as demonstrated by the current proposals for Measure R2.

    Metro is currently constructing the Crenshaw / LAX line to link the new airport people mover to a light rail line out of LAX. But the Crenshaw Line will terminate at the Expo Line. (Originally, it was supposed to link up to the Purple Line, but that was cut for budgetary reasons.)

    Measure R2 proposes to extend the Crenshaw / LAX line further northward to the Purple Line and then up to West Hollywood and Hollywood, but this is not due to happen until around 2055 !

    At a minimum, Metro should phase the northern extension of the Crenshaw / LAX line so that it links up to the Purple Line as quickly as possible. It’s crazy to make LAX travelers – who will be going all over the Southern California region — rely upon a connection to the much slower Expo line in order to reach their ultimate destinations.

    Considering the magnitude of our investment in LAX, the people mover and the Purple Line, it’s crazy not to connect these dots as quickly as possible.

    How short-sighted can we be in our so-called long-range planning?

  8. I don’t care which agency is responsible for giving public transit vehicles slow access at intersections. The mayor of Los Angeles is in charge of both Metro and the L.A. city Department of Transportation. He sits on Metro’s board of directors, along with 3 of his appointees. He is the chief executive officer in charge of the D.O.T. The suburban cities also have representation on Metro’s board of directors; so do the county Board of Supervisors, who operate traffic signals in unincorporated areas of the county (such as the East L.A. portion of the Gold Line).

    I will blame my city and county elected officials if Metro has slow access at intersections for whatever reason.

  9. I think –and this is just a speculation– what bothers people about the excuse that Metro has no control over the city of Los Angeles is that Mayor Garcetti sits on the board along with 3 appointees. They all are happy to show up at ribbon cutting events and boast of their success. Why do they sit on their hands when it comes to actually improving this service that they’re so proud of? I realize that that does not change the crux of your point, Steve, but the purported difficulties of getting LADOT to do something about this seem like they could only stem from Garcetti, an MTA director, not wanting to do something about it.

    • Extending the Crenshaw line to interface with the Purple Line would still not provide a one-seat ride from DTLA and Union Station and the 96th Street/LAX station. Physically connecting the two lines is not feasible. Even if some Purple LIne trains are equipped with pantographs to allow them to take power from the overhead catenary (there are subway cars so equipped), they would probably present clearance problems at station platforms.

      A soon to be existing two-seat arrangement would be to use the Blue and Green Lines, that latter being extended to the 96th Street/LAX Station. However, what is really needed is a one-seat ride from DTLA and Union Station to the LAX station.

      Therefore, what Metro needs to do is build an elevated extension of the Blue Line above the Harbor Subdivision along Slauson and connect it with the Crenshaw Line. The Blue Line is already elevated at Slauson and hence a flat junction is all that would be required. The Airport Train cars could be reconfigured to provide parlor-car type seating and room for baggage carts. Perhaps a premium fare could be charged for this service similar to the zone fares on freeway buses.

      Alternatively, Metro could construct a South-to-West flying junction between the Blue and Green Lines at the Rosa Park/105 station. This may be complicated due to the arrangement of the various transportation lines at this point.

  10. On time savings I get that a lot of people want to compare to the time Expo takes to the time it takes to drive, but it’s also worth comparing to the time Expo takes to the time it takes on a bus to go between DTLA and DTSM. Compare the timetables of the 720 (Wilshire Rapid Bus, with limited stops) to the Expo Line. For example, on weekdays, heading west, the 720 leaves 5th and Main in DTLA at 5:14 p.m. and arrives at the 3rd St. Promenade in DTSM at 6:47 p.m. (93 minutes). The Expo Line leaves 7th/Metro at 5:13 p.m. and arrives at DTSM Station at 6:01 p.m. (48 minutes). Those start and end points are roughly equivalent.

    The Expo Line saves 45 minutes on that trip (48% less time travelling)! The time savings are greater during times of heavy traffic when the buses get bogged down more (as in the example above), but there are time savings even during times of less heavy traffic that are very significant for people who rely on transit.

    720 Timetable:
    Expo Timetable:

    • If you’re taking a metro bus from DTLA to Santa Monica, you’re doing it wrong. Try the R10, which is about an hour end to end at any non-peak time, and not much longer during peak. Also, who takes the 720 from downtown if they’re going to anything west of Wilshire and Western? Take the purple line and transfer at western, my friend.

      • On the other hand the R10’s schedule shows that its best frequency is once per 15 minutes, and would take about 76 minutes to make the same westbound trip just after 5pm. The 720 has more frequent service (around once every 8 minutes at that time). So maybe the R10 is a bit faster, but not dramatically so when you look at total travel time.

        However, if there were a toll lane on the 10 the speed and consistency of that bus would go way up, and there would probably be money to run it more often.

        The Purple Line is faster than a bus, but it’s short and then you have to get out and transfer, so I don’t know that it saves very much time for that trip.

      • The Purple Line should go to Santa Monica, but the City of Santa Monica would never densify Wilshire Boulevard around stations to the levels where a subway is justified. Getting the subway past the wall that is the 405 freeway would be a big help, although I’d take it the extra mile over to Bundy and build a station there.

      • My lived experience of trying to get across town would suggest that the transfer at Wilshire and Western saves a great deal of time.

        On the R10, yeah the frequency sucks. But if you’re using it to commute, you’re likely taking the same runs every single day, which means that frequency doesn’t matter much to you, except in when you set your alarm for. The point is, comparing the commutes people were already doing (R10 to DTLA) is a better metric than comparing a theoretical commute that on a bus few Santa Monicans would ever use to get to DTLA. We’re underwhelmed because metro managed to spend millions of dollars only to shave 15 or 20 minutes off of our trips (in really bad traffic), not because we expected the expo line to be a magic carpet ride. It would have been nice to either get a silver line solution for cheaper, or actually get some kind of solution that made an actual dent in commute times.

        Incidentally, I’m meeting someone in Pasadena tonight. Google’s trip planner recommend that I take the R10 to the gold or the R7 to the purple, even though I live as close to the expo as I do to the nearest R10 stop. So, there you go.

  11. Hi Steve,

    One question related to the evolving transportation landscape on the Westside: is there any chance that google maps might start to show the new Expo stations sometime soon? What would it take to make that happen?

  12. Surely Metro needs to work more on frequent, reliable bus connections to rail, but the latter has one major advantage – consistency! The freeway and surface streets could be faster or Not.
    I’ve found one combo that works – ride the Silver Line from the south bay towards DTLA, then jump off at 23th St and onto the Expo Line.

  13. Going by the schedules (via Google Maps), the trip should take less than 90 minutes from Pasadena to Santa Monica, depending on the exact stops.Sounds like there were at least a couple of problems with the trains on that trip. The regional connector will shave off at least a few minutes.

  14. You’re talking about a commute of about 50 miles each way. Even in areas with good transit, such crosstown commute can take just as long on the subway. Transit systems weren’t meant to support these kinds of commutes, but these commutes are getting more common with prices of housing and the need to have two income/career households.

  15. I inadvertently did an experiment on the time savings from the Expo line extension. On the Friday before the line opened (non-rush hour – 12pm), from Union Station, I took the Purple line to Wilshire/Western, and then the BBB R7 to Downtown Santa Monica. Then the Friday after the Expo line extension opened, I took the Red/Purple line to the Expo Line at 7th/Metro Center. On both trips, there was no waiting (I was very lucky). Unfortunately, the Expo line all the way to Santa Monica resulted in no time savings. I think the complaints about the Expo Line’s speed definitely are valid.

  16. Try some public transit alternates. Joe Mathews took ONE ride and expected it to work perfectly. Nothing works on the first try.

    I used to bicycle to The Huntington Gardens & Library from downtown Santa Monica. That’s 24 miles and takes almost two hours – a bit less downhill on the way back. Sometimes I got tired and I tried some alternatives mid-route.

    The Gold line segment is a fast route (though I could beat it via Huntington Drive on a bike.) Once you’re at Union Station (the only Metro handy public restroom) there are several choices, The Big Blue R10 is way fast in non-peak times (about 45 minutes) slower in traffic. Metro’s 733 on Venice (under an hour) is quite a bit quicker than the 720 on Wilshire, due to less lights & stops I’d guess. And the 704 is much, much slower – even if you took it to the Hollywood Bvld station and changed to the Red line. The EXPO line is gonna be slower than the bus. Maybe if the signals can be changed to train 1st, it will come closer to bus times. You might wait as much as 15 minutes for a bus on any of them – try the Transit app. I can ride faster than any of the Metro bus routes by bicycle, and there are plenty of interesting places on the way.

    You can beat any of these routes with a car. But you can do something while you’re using the alternate – read, work or exercise. That’s worth quite a bit more to me than a small amount of time.

  17. The blogger lives about 25 miles from his job. The active question is how long should it take to travel 25 miles at rush hour. You’ll find that Coney Island to the North Bronx is 25 miles. Google says that takes 95 minutes on the subway. I think the real mistake was assuming that an employer in Santa Monica could employ Pasadena residents and consider that the same metro area. Look for:

    a) a different job
    b) a different house
    c) some REALLLYYY good podcasts

    • I highly recommend the Judge John Hodgman podcast!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  18. I went to Los Angeles on vacation from May 10-14 and stayed in Hollywood. Although Phase 2 of the Expo Line to Santa Monica would not open for another week to ten days, I had the privilege to join the Los Angeles Railroad Historical Foundation on a pre-revenue ride to and from Santa Monica.

    Writer stvr brings up a good point about the travel comparison between Pasadena and Santa Monica and from the North Bronx (not far from where I live) and Coney Island. Both distances are roughly 25 miles away and under normal conditions both rides should take around 90-plus minutes. But what stvr either doesn´t realize or forgets is that that ride from North Bronx to Coney Island is on a single train (D Train in this case), while Joe Mathews´ride between Pasadena and Santa Monica requires THREE trains (Gold, Red/Purple and Expo). Transfer times have to be factored in with that particular trip. I think writer James makes a good point in that there may have been transit delays along the way that may have resulted in the (much) longer commute times.

    I hope Joe Mathews gives Expo Line another chance because it really is a GAMECHANGER as far as public transportation in Los Angeles is concerned. Although my criticism on Metro is that other than the two subway lines (Red and Purple) and the Green Line, the other light rail lines run at street level for major segments, running alongside vehicles and having to stop at traffic lights; the trains are reliable and the $1.75 fare + two hours of unlimited transfers is a significant bargain! I don´t subscribe to those who suggest that Mr. Mathews either relocate or get a different job; I do believe that some sacrifices may need to be made to make the commute faster and possibly enjoyable.

    One example would be to have a second route to travel between the same A and B points. Using myself as an example, I live near the Allerton Avenue Station on the 2 Train. I have two choices to go to work at Co-op City (at a shopping center there), Usually I take a single bus (Bx 26 bus), but sometimes I take the 2 Train one stop southbound to Pelham Parkway (with about a 5-10 second view of the Manhattan skyline along the way!) followed by the Bx12 SBS (Select Bus Service), a bus rapid transit route.

    Lastly, Mr. Mathews, a handful of bad commutes don´t necessarily make a bad system forcing you to continue to commute by yourself by car. I do encourage you to look for other ways to travel between Pasadena and Santa Monica car-free if the Expo Line is not what you were hoping it would be. No public transit network is perfect (even where I live some subway lines could be out of service for track work), but Metro is striving hard to build a transit system Angelenos can be proud of.

  19. some years ago suggestions were made to synchronize the lights at street levels for the light rail what is going on with that,maybe the travel between long beach,down town to santa monica would be faster,just a reminder.

  20. Four hours to get from the San Gabriel Valley to DTSM on rail? I hope the author is talking round-trip. I have been taking rail from Pasadena to Santa Monica since it opened. It has been exactly 1.5 hours in the morning–a little longer than my driving commute and an hour 40-50 in the afternoon—faster than my two hour driving commute home and less stressful. And this week it seems that Expo added more cars to the trains making getting on and off at stops quicker so yesterday I got to Pasadena in an hour and 35 minutes. Even the worst day on the train is better than the best day sitting in traffic.