Metro’s $350-million investment in modernizing the Blue Line will begin in January 2019

The Blue Line will undergo a comprehensive $350-million modernization beginning in January 2019 to improve reliability, enhance safety and improve the customer experience. Work to modernize the Blue Line — which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest rail line  — has been ongoing since 2014 with a series of safety and operational improvements.

The upcoming improvement project — called the New Blue — will require portions of the line to be temporarily closed for two extended four-month closures beginning in January. In addition, Blue Line service to Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will be closed for eight months and will be rebuilt with more capacity, a new customer service center and community plaza, easier connections to local buses and surrounding communities and upgrades to safety and security systems. During the closure, Green Line service will operate normally at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.

Work on the Blue Line will include improvements to the signaling, tracks and the overhead wires that deliver electricity to trains. Four new crossover tracks will be built to reduce service interruptions. There will also be numerous station improvements, including new digital map cases, signage, paint and landscaping.

The closures are as follows:

•January to May 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by Metro bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

•May to September 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between Compton Station and Downtown Long Beach Station. Red and Purple Line service will operate normally at 7th St/Metro Center.

•During the northern closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th St/Metro Center and Pico Station with train service in that segment replaced by bus shuttles. Expo Line trains will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

Metro will offer three types of Blue Line Bus Shuttle Service during the closures:

•Blue Line Local Bus Shuttle Service will be free, with buses serving all closed Blue Line stations. The shuttles will run the same hours as the Blue Line, seven days a week.

•Blue Line Select Bus Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare and serve busier stations during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to the Blue Line or other lines within two hours of starting a trip. Select Bus Shuttles will run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the closure between Downtown Long Beach and 103rd Street Station, the Select Bus Shuttles will serve the following stations: Pacific, 1st Street/Downtown Long Beach, 5th Street, Anaheim, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow, Wardlow, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and 103rd/Watts Towers. During the closure between Compton and 7th/Metro, the Select Bus Shuttles will service 7th/Metro, Pico, Grand/LATTC, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and Compton.

•Blue Line Express Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare with limited stops between Downtown Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles during morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to other lines within two hours of starting a trip. The Express Bus Service will run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stations served will be Pacific Ave, Downtown Long Beach/1st Street, 5th St, Anaheim St, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow St, Wardlow, LATTC/Ortho Institute, Grand/LATTC, Pico and 7th St/Metro Center.

Metro is launching a robust outreach campaign to Metro customers, cities, communities, stakeholders and the public about the New Blue. The New Blue website is at www.metro.net/newblue includes a fact sheet and map with the three bus shuttle services.

28 replies

  1. is there a way to request that Metro run 1 more express shuttle or select shuttle on Friday and Saturday starting at 210AM from 7mc to long beach?? My fear is that when we get to 103/Watts or compton, when leaving 7MC at its last scheduled time that there will be no local shuttle waiting for us, which has happened many many times in the past, or for the LA portion that there will not be a train on the other side of the shuttle leaving at the last scheduled time.

    • Hi Daniel;

      The Express and Select shuttles will only be operating at rush hours, Monday through Friday. However, the Local shuttle schedule will be similar to the typical Blue Line train schedule — in other words, if the Blue Line is supposed to be running, the local shuttle will be running.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Do we have an idea of how long the “express” and “select” bus shuttles will take? Also, do we have an idea of what the headways will be? My recent (last month or two) experience has been that while the Blue Line is supposed to be 44 minutes to DTLA and 41 from it (both to Willow Station), about 1/3 of the time it’s taking more than 50 minutes.

    • Hi SunnyG;

      The shuttles are in the planning phase and Metro will release information related to headways and frequencies when they are finalized.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. So I believe the bus numbers should be 801 for local, 831 for limited, and 841 for the Downtown to Downtown Express?

    • Hi Chris;

      Metro is in the planning phase and we’ll have the numbers for each service in a few months. However, the bus shuttle header will include the name of the shuttle as described in this blog post.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. For those who are interested (moderator, correct me if any of this is wrong), the project will do the following:

    1.Replace aging switching, signaling, train detection and power equipment, upgrading them to modern technologies (in line with other Metro lines incl. Expo)
    2.Upgrade obsolete signal system at the Blue Line yard in Long Beach.
    3.Add four new rail interlockings (crossovers) between Washington and Willow.
    4.Replace aging overhead lines in Downtown LA and Downtown Long Beach.

    A few notes.

    For item 1: switching on the Blue Line (Metro’s oldest line) is still done using physical relays. It has over 3500 signaling relays in its bungalows, and these are wearing out. The project will replace these with solid state relays.

    For item 3: there are six existing interlockings (crossovers) between Washington and Willow. But this leaves some huge gaps: for instance, there is one south of Washington, and then heading south, the next one is past Florence. So an accident at Florence Avenue requires single tracking between Washington and Firestone stations. The four new interlockings would mean trains could crossover between nearly every pair of stations along the central part of the line.

  5. Metro really needs to be open about how they are going to handle this catastrophe:

    1. Have express buses run all the time. NO peak only buses.

    2. What will the bus bridge be like when the EXPO Line stations -Pico and 7th/Metro- are closed for 45 days?

    3. How will Green Line passengers get to the Blue Line and vice versa when Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station is closed the entire time????

    • 1. There’s no need for an 24/7 express bus. Maybe expand the operating time 30mins both ways, just to be gracious, but anything other than that is over-kill.

      2. Did you see the second image? It already answers your question.

      3. Umm…what? They don’t, the Blue Line won’t be operating at all at this station.

    • Couldn’t agree more. The MTA’s list of solutions for the issue show’s a complete lack of creative thinking as well.

  6. Why is Metro still shutting down complete portions of the Blue Line every weekend then, if the major work is happening next year? Something doesn’t add up.

    • Because regular maintence is required on any line. The increase in closures and need for remaintaining things IS the reason why this massive closure and update is happening afterall! 🙂

    • It does sound fishy. Constant weekend closures and bus bridges for *years* now.

      Seems like every time I want to take the Blue Line to Long Beach theres some maintenance or “upgrades” and awful bus bridges.

      If the train system is so bad why not just rip up the tracks and run a busway instead like the Orange Line? You wouldnt have to worry about all the inferior switching systems and what not.

  7. Okay, I kind of understand that with the prolonged closure of Willowbrook, the timing of this project doesn’t make too much of a difference regardless of whether the Crenshaw Line is open. However, the burden on Green Line passengers headed to downtown or points west of DTLA, would be reduced if Crenshaw was in operation for the entirety of this project.

  8. Since the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station will be under construction, where do we go to park to get to 7th/Metro?

    • Hello? Anyone? What alternate stations should we use for parking? Any security at these locations? Safety is an issue. Otherwise, I’ll just have to drive. Some of us live in areas where personal safety is a great concern.

      • Hi, we’re waiting to hear back from staff regarding parking and will update as soon as we have that info. Thank you!

        Anna Chen
        Writer, The Source

      • Hi Elffy,

        Free parking will remain available at the park and ride lots during the closure for those who need access to shuttles. We’ll update as we confirm more details.

        Thank you,

        Anna Chen
        Writer, The Source

  9. Kind of just feels that Metro should bring back the 456 back for 6 months, it may sound stupid to some, but in a few instances operating a freeway express bus OUTSIDE of rush hours to supplement the Blue Line can work as well. Just think about it, it’s going to take more than an hour now to get from DTLA to DTLB on rail.

  10. This is an excellent and informative article. I’m new to riding metro and I take the blue line to the green line from Long beach. My question is, with the closure of the Willowbrook station and this being the transfer center to the Green line will there be a stop nearby the Willowbrook station that will allow the transfer to the green line to take place at this location? trying to figure out how to still make it from the Long Beach to Hawthorne. Thanks!

    • Hi John;

      The Green Line station at Willowbrook will remain open during the closure and you will be able to transfer between the Blue Line bus shuttles and the Green Line. Hope that helps!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. Given that there will be shouldn’t be issues with turning trains quickly enough at 7th Street or a rolling stock shortage while the Blue Line is closed, will midday Expo Line service run at 6-minute headways after the 45-days of closure from 23rd Street to 7th Street?

    • Hi Brian;

      I’m unaware of any planned schedule changes at this time but we’ll ask if anything may be happening.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Outside of the 45-day closure, one might think the Expo Line would get faster during the northern Blue Line closure.

      The Flower Street wye would not have to stop Expo trains except for vehicular traffic. Expo trains could also use both tracks and stubs at 7th//Metro.

  12. What about expand the Silver Line services to accommodate affected riders from the blue line? Blue line and Silver line is only a few miles apart from each other, therefore simply strengthen additional services between San Pedro to downtown LA would be great. Some recommendations include early morning and evening 950 service to San Pedro, more frequent services between SP to downtown LA during off peak hours and weekends (30mins to 15mins), and lower the regular fare from 2.50 to 1.75 to accommodate blue line riders.

  13. I echo other commentators on the need for Metro to consider the impact of the “New Blue” improvement project on existing Silver Line service. As a frequent user of the Silver Line, I can attest to the overcrowding on Silver Line buses, even during offpeak hours. Because the Silver Line parallels the Blue Line as a north-south route, I would expect that many Green Line and Blue Line passengers will switch to the Silver Line to avoid the Blue Line shuttle service.

    I would hope that the Metro Operations staffers closely monitor the Silver Line ridership during the suspension of Blue Line service, and make provisions for adding additional Silver Line buses to handle the expected increase in Silver Line demand.

    Better yet, Metro should anticipate in advance the impact on the Silver Line and take proactive steps to beef up the Silver Line service during both peak and offpeak hours to handle the diversion of ridership.

    Let’s think of Metro as the regional system it was intended to be.

  14. Is there any consideration being made for people who connect to the Blue Line by bicycle? Will the shuttle buses have racks available for only 2 bikes max?