Plan to reduce delays and travel time while increasing security on Blue Line is announced

A southbound Blue Line train on the stretch of tracks along Long Beach Boulevard. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

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:




14 replies

  1. I was shocked to see so many crimes on the Metro trains even though there were times I was scared to be in the train. And at times, the trains are very filthy especially the expo line. I am surprised that the problems are not addressed since day 1. Do we have to wait until something really serious happens before the action is taken? I’ve often seen people got on the train without paying anything. Why do we allow these people to abuse the system? Why do we have to have so many problems? Why can’t we ride the train in a peaceful, safe, comfortable and clean train like those in Europe and some Asian countries? Do we need the loud speaker that won’t stop and that makes quiet reading impossible?
    The planning was not good either. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a parking space. It’s really a shame about all that is happening in Metro trains because I really enjoy riding trains in general and Metro has nice trains.

    • I know. I ride Metro every day of the week and I am tired of seeing people ether jumping over turnstiles, pushing the emergency gate to let friends come in and pushing through the disabled gates for people in wheelchairs. Also, I also see many people sneaking in from the middle exit doors of buses which means their not paying as well. It would be interesting to see how much is lost in revenue because of this.

  2. I could see WSA being sped up to create a form of express if we can double the existing service past Slauson Station. This would really only help those going directly to Union via Alameda however.

    All of the separate pieces and plans do tell that the Blue Line is in need of a massive overhaul in respects to its performance and maintaining its value.

    In the last few weeks we’ve seen discussions of Express Service, better security, and better on time performance but there does not seem to be a real comprehensive plan on getting these things done in one good push. I know funding needs to be identified and studies conducted among other political challenges, but there is money to maintain and upgrade service if I am not mistaken? To which capacity is the real question.

    Metro also needs to help one of its biggest group of riders: South Los Angeles residents!

    Could we get these studies underway so that Metro could start accepting bids, PLEASE!

    Regarding security, Metro just needs it own cops in my opinion; its own court, attendants, surveillance, etc. These are things a full grown system could have; creates jobs too.

  3. In the interim, get security on the trains and platforms to enforce or spot check the existing rules, code of conduct, operations, etc .

  4. The end-to-end scheduled running time, 7th/Flower, downtown LA, to 1st St, downtown Long Beach, is 58 min. In 1960, under LAMTA management, the end-to-end scheduled running time, from the PE Bldg, 6th & Main, LA, to the Long Beach station on Ocean Blvd. was about 60 min also.

  5. The photo at top is along Long Beach Ave in South LA , not Long Beach Blvd, which is in Long Beach. It’s probably near the Washington, Vernon or Slauson stations.

  6. I noticed something in the list of crimes and, as a person who only uses MTA, I’m afraid that once again, those managing just don’t get it. For instance, the blatant eating and drinking that goes on. Since I’ve been on at least one MTA line, which totally stopped operation during rush hour, due to mice, I wonder how long it will take before the non-enforcement of everything posted as prohibited in even the stations is effectively enforced? I constantly see people skipping over the disabled gates, which is stealing, and very few being prosecuted especially at places like the Pershing Square Red and Purple Line station nearest so Skid Row. I also see people sleeping in the bicycle aisles when loitering and vagrancy are also posted as possible to fines, I hear the loud noises coming from loud stereos, cellphones and other devices,I see young people constantly putting their feet up on seats (clearly ignoring the announcements), young males skateboarding in the terminals and more. All of this is seen on the hidden security cameras and I’ve heard announcement on loud speakers but no one is there to enforce and carry out the rules. Another annoying thing is the constant vending going on especially on the Blue Line which isn’t listed in any of the reports. So, let me as you something. Is non-payment of fare a crime like stealing or what? I pay for my monthly pass and I don’t like it when those abusing the system often turn into the worst slobs imaginable. What is really needed are plain clothes officers enforcing things that the abusers hide whenever they see uniformed officers on the trains.

    • ^^^ A lot of nitpicking in this comment. The one part I do agree with is that something ought to be done about the amount of loitering and associated activities around the 5th/Hill entrance to Pershing Sq station. There’s an unreasonable amount of people congregating there camped out, smoking without moving on, buying/selling loose cigarettes, etc. As a 6’2″ man in his 30s I feel somewhat uneasy with the characteristics of this particular station entrance (the other Pershing Sq entrances a block are totally fine) I’ve considered modifying my habit of using this one closest to my destinations in the area for 4th/Hill but I figure that this proliferation of activities has not gone unnoticed so I should be not so judgmental and speak up about its perception.

  7. Referring to the two comments above:

    “Bob”, yes, that probably has something to do with it. I wish you’d refer to other passengers more respectfully.

    “Metrocenter”, “hood rats”? Really?? I’m irritated by the same behavior you describe, but name-calling doesn’t do (stuff).

  8. Finally, Metro may be listening. My two biggest issues with riding the Blue Line are (1) my increasingly-unpredictable arrival/departure times, and (2) dealing with hood rats treating the train like their personal pig sty.

    Issue 1 refers to being late to work due to the long pauses at Grand/LATTC and Pico station while 7th/Metro clears, and to how long I sometimes have to wait at 7th/Metro for a Blue Line train, as multiple Expo Line trains come and go.

    Issue 2 refers to people eating and tossing trash, spitting, graffiting, playing loud music on boomboxes, smoking weed, huffing paint, sleeping across seats, blocking exits, etc. (I have witnessed ALL of these on the Blue Line in just the last two months.)

  9. Drop in ridership last couple of years. Could the problem be the fact that illegals can get drivers licenses, getting cars and not riding Metro?

    • Still trying to figure out if the tired trope that you’re parroting is racist or not. You know that a lot of people legal citizens or not, still drive cars… If you’re in the spirit of educating yourself I recommend reading “The Divide” by Matt Taibbi, one of the first chapters profiles one such illegal immigrant who fled violence and poverty in Guatemala to South Los Angeles to experience our well-documented police state for people of color—in the book she is a daily automobile driver.

      Blaming drivers is not too far off from the official line out of Metro HQ which oft sees itself explaining the decline of ridership with the nebulous “falling gas prices” or “rising economy” instead of looking at the also declining on-time arrivals (bus and rail), increasing crime stats (yikes, look at the Green Line!), stagnant bus service hours on an ever shrinking number of bus routes—all this despite the Metro Rail system growing by more than 20% in route-miles in the same time.
      I like LA Metro as an organization, they do a lot right and very well, I wish that they would look critically at the evidence in the picture that their own numbers paint.

      • The stations need soundwalls to encase them. Criminals use noise as a buffer since no one can hear a struggle on many of the platforms. Outside of security reasons, its just noisey, windy, and dusty in general. Encasing the stations can give metro increased ability to protect its riders. illuminate stations better, heck and maybe even sell ad space on the new wall for motorists and riders alike (a concept that I somewhat hate, but does make sense). If not glass to maintain the views which are nice on the elevated sections, brick with windows or some type of decoration would be nice.

        A bit off topic, but the green line is our neglected appendage line I feel since its the only one that doesn’t go through DTLA proper, yet does connect to the Blue Line.

    • Bob, you’re comment has nothing to do with the drop of in ridership on the Blue Line. The reason for the drop in Blue ridership had to do with some of the poor planning decisions of the LATC, the predecessor of LACMTA. Instead of making inane comments that have no basis or points of information shows how you are quick to making emotional appeals.