How to reach new Expo stations sans driving


Click above to visit the Expo extension’s web page on, including an interactive version of the map (scroll down).

The Expo Line to Santa Monica opens on Friday, May 20, adding seven new stations between Culver City and Santa Monica. Take heed: Parking along the extension is very limited with just 544 spaces total at three of the stations. 

That said, there are many bus connections to each of the new stations and a new bike path that runs alongside most of the extension — between Culver City Station and Palms Station and then from Overland Avenue to the 17th St/SMC Station. The new bike path connects to many existing bike lanes in the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica and there’s bike parking at each of the new stations. 

This is a long post with a lot of info. We’ll try to break it down into sections to make it more digestible.

One big thing you should do if you haven’t already….

Get a TAP card, the plastic fare cards used by Metro and muni bus providers in L.A. County. You can buy the card for $1 at TAP vending machines at all Metro Rail stations or buy them online at You can load daily, weekly and monthly passes on TAP cards or add Stored Value — an amount of money from which fares are deducted.

How to use Expo and a bus to travel to/from four key destinations

The Expo Line stations closest to UCLA and Westwood Village are Westwood/Rancho Park Station and Expo/Sepulveda Station.

–From Expo/Sepulveda: The Metro Line 234, Metro Rapid 734 and Metro Rapid 788 are being extended to the station beginning May 15. All three connect with Westwood and UCLA (see the individual timetables):

The extension of Lines 234, 734 and 788.

The extension of Lines 234, 734 and 788.

–From Westwood/Rancho Park: Big Blue Bus 8 and 12 can be used to travel between the station, Westwood and UCLA. Beginning in June, BBB 12 will be known as the Rapid 12 and will run at greater frequencies and have weekend service.

The Expo Line station closest to Century City is Palms Station. Big Blue Bus 5 runs between the station and Century City — check the schedule for BBB 5 buses that make this trip.

The Expo Line station closest to Santa Monica College is the 17th/SMC Station. It’s about a .8-mile walk or bike ride to the center of campus by going south on 17th Street. Or you can use Big Blue Bus 41 to travel from the station to campus and BBB 42 from campus to the station (the 42 begins service on May 20). In June, BBB 44 will connect the station to SMC’s main campus and the Bundy campus.

If traveling to Main Street in Santa Monica, Venice Beach or Marina del Rey, the closest Expo Line station is Downtown Santa Monica. Use Big Blue Bus 1 or BBB 18 that runs to Abbot Kinney. Metro Line 33 or Rapid 733 stops at Ocean Avenue and Colorado in Santa Monica (two blocks from the Expo station) and runs south to Main Street, Venice Beach and Marina del Rey.

Here is the Big Blue Bus map that includes the June service changes:

Click above to see larger version.

Click above to see larger version.

Here’s the entire list of bus connections and bike parking for the seven new Expo stations

Palms Station

  • 6 bike racks, 8 bike lockers
  • Bus Connections: Big Blue Bus 5, with Big Blue Bus 17 service to begin June 2016. 

Westwood/Rancho Park Station

Expo/Sepulveda Station

Expo/Bundy Station

26th Street/Bergamot Station

17th St/SMC Station

Downtown Santa Monica Station

On Saturday, May 21, Big Blue Bus will be offering free rides on all of their lines, so it’s a good chance to try out the buses and start familiarizing yourself with the connections.

Bike parking and bike share

•In order to reserve a bike locker at one of the new Expo stations, please contact 213-922-2660 or send an email to for bike locker registration assistance.

•The Santa Monica Breeze Bike Share program has bike kiosks at dozens of locations across the city and near Expo stations — for a small fee you can take a bike from one location and return it to another. Rides on Santa Monica Breeze Bike Share will be free from Thursday, May 19, through Saturday, May 21! You’ll need to create an account via their website or app in order to use the system, but no fees will be charged during those three days on any ride within the bike share’s service area.

•The Santa Monica Bike Center is located at 2nd Street and Colorado, one block from the Expo Downtown Santa Monica Station. The center offers bike rentals, repairs and parking.

•As mentioned above, the new bike path along the Expo Line is pretty sweet. It connects to existing bike lane networks in (map here) and the city of Los Angeles (map here).

Transferring between the Expo Line and Big Blue Bus and Culver CityBus

This isn’t the most intuitive thing in the world for transit newbies, so we’ll try to break it down so that it becomes routine for riders.

This is what a TAP-enabled transfer looks like that you will need to go from Big Blue Bus to Expo. Ask the BBB bus operator!

This is what a TAP-enabled transfer looks like that you will need to go from Big Blue Bus to Expo. Ask the BBB bus operator!

Transferring from Big Blue Bus to Metro: The regular fare for BBB is $1.25 and TAP cards can be used to pay. Ask the bus operator for a transfer to Metro, which costs 50 cents (cash only due to equipment limitations). Make sure to tell the bus operator you need a transfer to the Expo Line so you receive a TAP-enabled transfer. The transfer is good for one ride on one Metro train or bus.

Transferring from Culver CityBus to Metro: The regular fare for Culver CityBus is $1 and TAP cards can be used to pay. Ask the bus operator for a transfer to Metro, which costs 40 cents. You can pay both the fare and the transfer with a TAP card or cash. The transfer is good for one ride on one Metro train or bus.

Transferring from Metro to Big Blue Bus or Culver CityBus: Purchase a 50 cent “Metro to Muni” transfer at a TAP vending machine, located at all Metro Rail stations. The transfer is loaded onto your TAP card — then tap your card when boarding the Big Blue Bus or Culver CityBus.

Some other tips:

•If you’re transferring from BBB or Culver CityBus to the Expo Line and then need to transfer to another Metro bus or train, skip buying the transfer. It’s cheaper to pay the regular Metro fare when boarding the Expo Line — fare includes two hours of free transfers on Metro.

•If you frequently use Metro and muni providers such as BBB and Culver CityBus, it may be cheaper to purchase an EZ Transit Pass that allows for unlimited rides across different transit agencies; a 30-day pass begins at $110.

•You can use Stored Value on your TAP card to pay fares on Big Blue Bus, CulverCity Bus and Metro. The only thing you can’t use the TAP card for is buying a transfer from BBB to Metro — you will need to have 50 cents cash handy for that.

•Keep in mind that Metro offers a variety of greatly discounted fares for seniors, disabled riders/Medicare recipients, students and households with low incomes. Please see this page for more info.

•Finally, there’s one other thing worth noting for those who want to use both Metro and the BBB’s Rapid 10 Bus. The Rapid Bus uses the freeway and charges a $2.50 fare. But the TAP validators on Rapid 10 buses are not set up to collect the entire $2.50 from a single TAP card. You can pay either using two TAP cards (the validator deducts $1.25 from each), pay $1.25 using TAP and cover the difference with cash or entirely with cash.

For more information about the Expo Line to Santa Monica, visit

38 replies

  1. Can metro (monthly/weekly/etc) pass holders buy metro to muni transfers? And for either pass holders or regular TAP card users, can metro to muni transfers be purchased in advance and stored on the card? If not, do you purchase the transfer at the beginning or end of your metro rail/bus trip?

    • Yes, pass holders can purchase muni transfers and they can be purchased at the beginning or end of your trip on Metro (as far as I know).

      Here’s all the transfer info from Metro’s fare page:

      How do I transfer from Metro bus to other municipal lines?
      After using your TAP card to board a Metro bus or other participating municipal line, pay the bus operator the cash fee for a Metro-to-Muni transfer, and use the paper transfer slip or transfer that is loaded onto your TAP card (check with your local municipal line for transfer details) for local connecting service.

      How do I transfer from Metro rail to another municipal line?
      After using your TAP card to board the train, purchase a Metro-to-Muni transfer at a TAP Vending Machine before you leave the station. You will have the choice of loading a transfer on your TAP card for TAP-enabled municipal operators, or purchasing a paper transfer (check with your local municipal line for transfer details). Both are the same price.

      How do I transfer from a municipal line to Metro bus?
      Your TAP card is valid on any bus operated by Metro as long as it is loaded with a valid Metro pass, Stored Value or Interagency Transfer.

      How do I transfer from a municipal line to Metro rail?
      Tell your operator that you would like to buy a transfer to Metro rail. If you already have a TAP card, pay the operator and the electronic transfer will be loaded onto your card. If you do not have a TAP card, pay the operator and you will receive a one-time use disposable paper TAP card (polka dot). At the Metro Rail station, tap your card on the turnstile or validator. Your card is good for one ride only.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Because there is no parking at the Expo stop closest to me (4th Street) and the #9 bus runs only twice an hour and is slow as a turtle, it is highly unlikely I will be taking the Expo. There is no way at my age I will ever be riding a bicycle three miles in aggressive Santa Monica traffic to the station. What a pity! Great big fail to the Metro for not providing parking or at the very least convenient shuttles to the Santa Monica Expo stations from North of Montana/Pacific Palisades.

    • Very few people from North of Montana or Pacific Palisades would ever take any public transportation. That is why there are low bus frequencies up there. This is really a line to serve people commuting into the Westside and for people who live in the flats of West LA and Santa Monica.

  3. #mrsman I agree. Also, some may want to Expo-line East and then go one of the many agencies on Cotner. One BBB, goes from the Sepulveda Expo station up the road just one East of Cotner. I think it is the 8.

  4. I think you should also mention at the top part of the article that Culver City 3 connects the Westwood Blvd station to Century City. Culver City 6 (and Rapid 6) will connect the Sepulveda station to UCLA.

  5. Steve, you need to rewrite the piece on transfer from SMBBB to Metro. If a customer gets a paper Muni to Metro transfer slip, they will not be able to pass the turnstiles at the Expo Line stations where they have been installed. Many SMBBB drivers are aware of this and give out the TAP Tickets, but the burden is on the customer to look for this.

    • Hi Erik;

      Let me check it out with BBB and our TAP folks and I’ll fix if need be. Thank you for bringing to my attention!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  6. Any chance for a Commuter Express line from the SF Valley down to the Expo line?

    • The LADOT is in charge of striping bike lanes in the city of Los Angeles. It doesn’t look as though there is a plan for Bundy to receive bike lanes in the near future.

      Here’s the link to the LADOT Bike Program that has a map of projects completed and planned:

  7. It’s hard to read that explanation of how transfers work and not think that the system needs to be simplified and better coordinated among the various transit agencies. I’ll be honest, I usually just TAP my card at each boarding instead of messing with transfers. I may spend a little more, but it’s going to a good cause, and I’d rather do that than deal with the headache of mastering the nuances of the transfer policies of LA’s 10+ transit agencies. I ride transit pretty often and that still feels daunting to me. I think the TAP cards should be programmed to charge you the correct fare based on your immediate past rides and what service you’re tapping into.

  8. “validators on Rapid 10 buses are not set up to collect the entire $2.50 from a single TAP card. You can pay either using two TAP cards (the validator deducts $1.25 from each), pay $1.25 using TAP and cover the difference with cash or entirely with cash.”

    Another loophole to this. . . As dumb as it may sound. . . Use 2 TAP cards. I’m stilling failing to understand why this hasn’t been resolved by BBB yet. This is definitely both an inconvenience for both the driver and the rider. It ruins the point of TAP having to still pay cash.

    • Another bizarro situation brought to us by the fare collection vendor, but it really won’t matter for long since the Rapid 10 has no reason to exist starting May 23.

      • You speak too fast!! The Rapid 10 is the best alternative for when there are times that the Expo Line will get shut down (disabled train, auto related accident, bomb threat, etc) so by all means even though these events are unlikely to happen on a constant basis, I by all means would not call the Rapid 10 as useless after Expo’s opening as this would be the next option.

        There is a reason why BBB will continue to run weekday only service after August, they know the line will still be useful to a few people.

      • Actually, much (all?) of the TAP system infrastructure is now under Metro control. And typically, they haven’t come clean about the details; they would have to have programmers capable enough to fix software limitations and make improvements.

        Also, it may be complicated by TAP having to interface with various municipalities fare collection and financial system computers. I remember that there was a big ‘contest’ about how TAP ‘cash float’ interest was going to be allocated.

  9. Here’s a question, will both the 734 and 788 begin operations to/from Expo Line the same day as Expo Line opening or will we have to wait until June for that to happen??

    This doesn’t affect me personally, but it’ll be nice to know if a MTA to BBB or CC connection is still required between now and June just to get to UCLA from Expo.

  10. Since the MTA believes there is no need for a light rail line along Santa Monica Bl. since the Expo Line is opening how would someone caught in the virtual total grid lock along both Sunset Bl. and Santa Monica Bl. access the service in a convenient manner and then return to the travel corridor to get home conveniently to perhaps Sunset Bl. and Micheltorena?

    • Easy, take the Red Line from the Sunset or Santa Monica stations to the Expo Line.

    • You can walk to the Red Line and take that to 7th / Metro Center, and transfer to the Expo line there. Or take one of the many busses that run down Sunset towards Downtown. Or bike, walk, Lyft, Uber, etc.

      I’m sure if Metro had their druthers, there would be rail service in every corridor possible, but that’s not realistic. There is a long term plan to add transit to Santa Monica blvd, but more in the West Hollywood area. And bus lanes to major corridors to make getting to the rail network faster. (I believe part of Sunset Blvd, not far from your listed intersection, has dedicated bus lanes now.)

    • I agree, a sunset/santa monica bl. subway needs to happen but it doesn’t seem to be on Metro’s radar… Although in your particular case, as others have said, walking to the red line wouldn’t be too hard.

    • Hi Chris;

      The train begins running at noon on May 20 (next Friday). For most of the day and into evening, the trains will leave 7th/Metro Center Station (at 7th and Figueroa/Flower) every 12 minutes once regular service begins Sunday the 22nd. Get on an Expo Line train and stay on it until it reaches the Santa Monica station that is your destination.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. Cool, looks like the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus line 41 will go from 20th & Wilshire to the 17th Street Expo Line train station if you don’t feel like spending 10 minutes walking there. And if we wanted to go to the Getty, we could take the Expo Line to Expo/Sepulveda and catch the MTA Rapid Bus 734 (234 on weekends) which goes straight the to the Getty instead of taking the MTA Rapid Bus 720 down the terrible Wilshire Blvd. traffic to Wilshire & Westwood and walking up a block to catch the 234/734 there >

  12. Thank you for the information. Very excited. Exactly where the last stop be in Santa Monica. How close to third street?

    • Hi Jonathan;

      The last stop is on Colorado between 4th and 5th streets. It is a .3-mile walk to the southern end of the Third Street Promenade, or about five minutes. Santa Monica Place is right across the street from the station.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source