Two ongoing projects impact late night Red and Purple Line service on weekdays — here's the explanation and some pics

Photos: Metro

Over the last six months, late night Metro Red Line riders have likely noticed that on Sunday through Thursday nights, northbound and southbound trains have been sharing one track between Hollywood/Highland and North Hollywood.


Metro workers have been replacing all the lamps in the Red Line tunnels with new, brighter and longer-lasting high-efficiency LED lamps. These lamps use about half the energy of the existing fixtures and are expected to last about four times as long. The cost of the lighting project is about $9 million. 

That translates to lower electricity bills for Metro and lower costs since the agency won’t have to replace the lamps as often. There are about 8,000 tunnel light fixtures, meaning it’s a big energy savings and a serious reduction in the amount of waste produced by Metro. 

Metro workers are currently replacing fixtures in the Universal/Studio City area and gradually working back toward Union Station. Overall, the project will take three years to complete.

How does this affect your trip?

This is a long term project being performed on Sunday through Thursday nights and in conjunction with the Subway Tunnel Washing Project ongoing in downtown Los Angeles. This means there are two segments where Red Line trains share one track- in downtown and Hollywood to Universal City.

Due to limited track capacity, Red Line trains run every 20 minutes (instead of every 10 minutes) and the Purple Line only runs between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/Vermont. We try to minimize maintenance on Friday and Saturday nights, though other urgent work occasionally affects these nights. Customers with connections to other services should allow extra time and to check for planned service advisories at

11 replies

    • Metro will be installing equipment to provide cell service in the subway and other tunnels used by Metro Rail. I believe it will take one to two years to finish the subway installation.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  1. Agree with George. I realize there is a balance between cost and reliability of subway service. I think the reliability of the subway service is worth the possible extra cost. But let’s remember, MTA’s current CEO, Arthur T. Leahy, who was horrified to see passengers comfortably seated in far too many buses with no standees, and who wants to see more standees on buses on a regular basis, and presumably, trains, as well. With that kind of thinking, is it really surprising the efficiency for the passenger with more frequent, less crowded trains, hence the attractive attributes to make public transit more appealing to all, especially choice riders, is not the primary concern? The problem is far too many decision makers at LACMTA aren’t transit dependent nor use the system often enough, or they would find the increased head-ways at night, intolerable. So long as actually using Metro daily is an abstraction, they will always feel delays, increase in head-ways and several standees are good things for passengers.

  2. If you’re going to spend 3 years replacing the light bulbs after normal working hours, why not spend 4 years and do it between 1 am and 5 am, when service won’t be affected? A train running consistently on a reliable schedule can carry more passengers more effectively, connect to other trains better, pull in more revenue, and is safer for both residents and tourists. . Isn’t between 1 and 5 supposed to be the time for maintenance, anyways?

  3. Instead of making its riders wait longer for a train why is this not being done after the trains stop running or you trying to discourage people from taking the train

  4. To be fair to Metro though, many times maintenance is suspended on holidays and major events (i.e. playoff games at Staples Center). And trains are often delayed during maintenance, but are not delayed normally, so you would have unnecessary holds. What should be done, but is done inconsistently, is posting the departure times of trains online, although Nextbus on rail reduces the need for that somewhat.

  5. My bad. Apparently the ballast must be disconnected to realize the power savings and this requires a screwdriver and some wire cutting. That’s a lot of wires to cut. :p

  6. LED fixtures which fit in the existing lamp cases are made by many manufacturers as everyone is doing this. They are designed to be changed out by regular maintenance crews who normally replace the bulbs as they burn out.

    Instead, Metro is paying premium union electricians to replace the whole fixture – and disrupt service – over three years?

    Please Source, tell us why this isn’t as fishy as it sounds. Who got the contract and who awarded it?

  7. I got beat to it. Instead of just changing the Dates every week, just release a brand new timetable instead. I completely understand that maintenance needs to be done to run the system efficiently, and delays are inevitable. But instead of simply posting “Delays from Sunday-Thursday” that appear to be never-ending, just release a New timetable until all this is complete. I am surprised those big screens on the Red Line haven’t mentioned anything about all this lasting 3 years. A simple “Delays on Red/Purple Lines expected on every Sunday-Thursday through 2016” would do the trick.

    BTW, is the tunnel washing only in Downtown LA?? If so, when is that scheduled to be completed?? Or are there plans to go beyond that in the near future?? I noticed the walls at 7th/Metro were A LOT cleaner then usual yesterday so I guess good progress is being made on that.

  8. If this is going to be a 3-year project, then please just issue new timetables so that schedules can be set and riders had plan accordingly.