At Thursday’s Metro Board meeting, Metro CEO Phil Washington announced that the agency has begun an “action plan” to reduce delays that in recent months have plagued the Blue Line, Metro’s busiest light rail line. Washington also announced a security surge on the Blue Line.
The problem has been more acute since the frequency of trains on the Expo Line was increased last fall to every six minutes during peak hours. The Blue Line and Expo Line share tracks between the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Flower Street and the 7th/Metro Center Station and the junction at Washington/Flower has at times become a bottleneck.
Washington said that Metro is putting more operations staff along the Blue/Expo corridor to ensure that problems are quickly resolved and that Blue and Expo trains are properly spaced to avoid delays. He also said that the eventual goal is to reduce travel times between Long Beach and Los Angeles by 10 minutes; the train currently takes 58 minutes to travel end-to-end when on schedule (timetable here).
His announcement comes a week after a Los Angeles Times researcher and long-time Blue Line rider penned an op-ed documenting train delays and saying that he would no longer ride. Ridership, too, has fallen on the Blue Line according to the agency’s monthly and annual estimates (all ridership estimates are here).
In addition to the focus on better operations, Washington said that a “security surge” was underway on the Blue Line to better enforce the agency’s Code of Conduct. “We intend to make sure that people feel safe not just on Blue Line, but all lines,” Washington said.
The announcement comes on the same day that the Metro Board will consider a new policing contract that would replace the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as the sole provider and instead split the work between the LASD, Los Angeles Police Department and the Long Beach Police Department. Metro staff have said the move is intended to increase the visibility of police on Metro and improve response times. Previous Source post about the issue.
Here are three pages related to crime/safety on the Blue Line from the stats that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reports to the Metro Board (full report here):
A $1.2-billion “Better Blue Line” program was announced in Jan. 2014 by Metro. That project (its web page is here) includes a number of upgrades, with the bulk of the money dedicated to eventually rebuilding 52 rail cars and purchasing 78 new ones. Work on that project has been ongoing.
The Board is also considering a motion today that asks for a study of potential Blue Line improvements — including the possibility of express tracks and grade separating the Washington/Flower junction. Those type of projects are extremely expensive and Metro would have to secure funding. Here’s the motion: