Measure M: light rail between Artesia and Union Station


One in a series of posts on projects and programs that would receive funding from the Measure M sales tax ballot measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. 

What is it? The potential light rail line would be built in two phases: the first could run from Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia (and near the boundary with Cerritos) to a new station right-of-way just north of the Green Line that would be east of the 710 freeway. The second phase would continue north to Union Station.

Here is a technical study from last summer that looks at routes that have been studied thus far and recommends some (see above map) for further study as part of the project’s environmental review.

When would it be built? Under Metro’s revised spending plan, the Artesia-to-Green Line segment would break ground in 2022 with a projected completion date of 2028. The Green Line-to-Union Station segment would break ground in 2032 with a projected completion date of 2041. That’s six years earlier than envisioned in the original ballot measure spending plan.

Fun fact: The estimated weekday boardings for this project are very high, ranging from 43,000 to 75,000 for the six alignments. For sake of comparison, the Blue Line — Metro’s busiest light rail line — had an estimated 81,000 average weekday boardings in May.

Another fun fact: This project was originally included in the Measure R project list in 2008. The new ballot measure along with other sources greatly would expand on the $240 million from Measure R, thereby allowing this project — with an estimated cost of $3.8 billion to $4.6 billion (depending on the route) — to potentially be light rail.

Why is the project known as the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor? Because the portion of the route south of the Green Line would follow an old street car alignment known as the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor. The right-of-way continues all the way to Santa Ana in Orange County.

Metro is a Los Angeles County agency and would only build a project in the L.A. County portion of the alignment. Any decision to build a section between Santa Ana and Cerritos would need approvals and funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Measure M calls for a half-cent sales tax increase and an extension of the existing Measure R sales tax. Please visit for more info and use the hashtag #metroplan when discussing on social media. The Metro Board approved sending the ballot measure to county voters at their June 23 meeting. 

Other posts on ballot measure projects 

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Purple Line Extension acceleration

Airport Metro Connector

Rail or bus rapid transit on Van Nuys Boulevard

High Desert Corridor

Gold Line extension to Claremont

105 freeway ExpressLanes

Green Line extension to Torrance

Bus rapid transit on Vermont Avenue in L.A.

16 replies

  1. It should be a lesson that poor planning precluded the use of the wide and arrow-straight Santa Ana PE ROW between Watts and Paramont. This was not as streetcar line, but a heavy interurban line that ran a mix of electric freight and passenger trains. It is possible to imagine the WSAB running on an aerial structure along the embankment of the 105 to get to the Blue Line. The redevelopment of the former ROW in Watts prevents an easier connection to the Blue Line. Although I read the study ruled out interlining, this option would make an affordable and fast connection to the rest of the Metro system, especially if it also included capacity expansion to the existing Blue Line (elevated tracks for express service?) and the Alameda Street connection to Union Station.

    In the above scenario, a new cross-town line could use the the ROW through Huntington Park out to Whittier paired with the Metro-owned ROW along Slauson to the Crenshaw line and LAX.

    Ignoring all of the above, the the West Bank/Alameda alignment are the best of the currently considered options. I would strongly suggest that the WSAB tracks should come down to grade between 24th Street and Washington to allow some Blue Line trains a direct route to Union Station and some WSAB trains access to downtown via the current Blue Line route.

    Just to echo Fred’s comments above. LRT seems pretty limited in capacity for the second largest metro area in the U.S. Why is some form of electric multiple unit train system never considered? Something compatible with both Metrolink and limited freight operations would open up a lot of possibilities for an expandable passenger network on the existing light-use freight ROWs which still cross all over the Southland.

  2. I want to ask a question, why Los Angeles Metro only focuses on building a BRT or LRT system? Why does not have any new heavy rail or commute rail system included in your plan? (except Purple line extension) Is the rail ridership not enough to support to become a heavy rail or commute rail? It seems that Metro does not want to provide a rapid public transport services to riders. The BRT and LRT are the lowest class and less efficiency than any types of transportation with limited speed and capacity. I really wish that you will reconsider the Santa Ana to be a commute rail for convenient and rapid service.

    • LA Metro only seems to look at LRT, Bus, BRT, or Heavy Rail because they seem to want high frequency service. To make that worthwhile you need a lot of stations, as point to point doesnt generate a lot of trips.

      For faster point to point regional service, what we really need is better Metrolink, which is funded in such a way to include Orange County.

  3. Just what we need right now, a light rail line running north and south about one mile east of the Blue Line running in the same direction. Screw the rest of the county, build a duplicate line one mile away. It’s time for a Peoples Transit Measure being placed on the ballot this coming November to compete with the current flawed MTA plan.

  4. Is there any chance this is being delayed so much to allow all the funding to be put in place for a heavy rail purple “east route” extension? Because I really don’t understand the delay if that’s not the case.

  5. There are some great possibilities for this general alignment at the north end.
    I like the Alameda / Vignes routing as it finally shortcuts the circuitous Washington Blvd – Blue Line routing to get to LAUS.
    Perhaps we only need this short segment as light rail and the other more easternly routing could be a Red Line extension.
    A lot of food for thought.

    One unmentioned big elephant in the room – the Huntington Park/Maywood/Paramount segments use Union Pacific owned ROW. How does Metro propose to get UP cooperation and to prevent them from bleeding us taxpayers white?

    • I would really like to see the Red/Purple Line extended east to Washington Blvd or points further south.

      I wonder what it would cost to have the whole segment from Union Station to the Green line be Heavy rail, probably mostly on the ground or elevated.

  6. Will the separate the grade? Don’t count on OCTA completing the line to Santa Ana. If it doesn’t make money for Donald Bren, they won’t do it. OCTA’s reason for existing is to build roads for Bren’s developments.

  7. Long overdue. The ‘West Santa Ana Right of Way’ (as it was once called) is a good feeder to the southeast. Would make better sense to begin the route near Long Beach Green Line Station?

  8. The Artesia New Southern Terminus looks to be at the intersection of South Street & Pioneer Boulevard in an area known as Little India. Despite that name, there are dozens upon dozens of restaurants of a wide variety of nationalities in that area and is quite an activity center. Gridley/183rd Street Station would also serve the Los Cerritos Center.

    As for the Orange County portion of the right-of-way, OCTA is already planning the OC Streetcar between Santa Ana & Garden Grove; so having light or heavy rail all the way to Santa Ana is not going to happen, however, OCTA hasn’t planned anything from Garden Grove to the LA/OC border of the ROW yet.