Carter and I had a nice morning: we were recipients of our first ride on the Expo Line, traveling from the 23rd Street station in downtown Los Angeles to the La Cienega station and back. We’ll post some more pics later as well as video. (Update: Here’s the link to the videos)
As for the obvious question: we don’t yet have an official opening date for the Expo Line.
Why? There’s still parts of the project not yet finished, namely there’s work to be done on the switch on the junction of the Expo Line and Blue Line tracks, the ventilation system in the tunnel under Figueroa near USC and the Culver City station.
Bottom line: Metro officials are adamant about not rushing to open the line until it is completed.
As for the ride, it was smoother and quicker than we thought it would be. A few impressions:
•Even though the train was in test mode and stopping at places it normally would not, it took about 21 minutes to travel from La Cienega to the 23rd Street station. We were both surprised how quick the train was in the sections it could run 55 mph, west of Western Avenue.
•In the street running sections of the line where there are no crossing gates, the train must obey traffic signals but will have traffic signal priority and should get a lot of green lights.
•The train runs very slow — 10 mph — on both sides of the Farmdale Station adjacent to Dorsey High School as part of the deal negotiated between the Expo Line Construction Authority and the LAUSD. It’s a bigger issue going eastbound, because the La Brea and Farmdale stations are very, very close to one another. The train barely leaves La Brea and it’s slowing for Farmdale. Get used to it.
•The mountains views from the aerial stations at La Brea and, in particular, La Cienega, are outstanding. Patrons will be able to take in a wide swath of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Baldwin Hills and the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains. The only minor complaint: some ill-placed high-tension wires between the La Cienega station and the mountains in the distance will foil some photographers.
•The rain shields now installed at the stations look pretty good and should provide plenty of shelter during inclement weather.
We’re working on uploading the video and will post some later today.