An update on Expo Line service: extra train added to ‘peak of peak’ hour

Thank you, Expo Line riders, for your continued feedback about Expo Line overcrowding. Metro is working to identify remedies to help alleviate this situation and create more train capacity for riders.

Currently, we have added additional trains during peak-of-peak hours:

  • Westbound trains leaving 7th St/Metro Center will run every six minutes from about 6:38 a.m. to 7:33 a.m. and from about 5:48 p.m. to 6:36 p.m.
  •  Eastbound trains leaving Expo/Bundy will run every six minutes from about 6:03 a.m. to 6:51 a.m. and departing Downtown Santa Monica every six minutes from about 5:04 p.m. to 5:52 p.m.

We are also adding a third train into the rotation that will further expand capacity during the peak-of-the-peak period beginning today, Sept. 26.

Outside of these times, trains will continue to run every eight minutes during the remainder of the morning and afternoon peak hours. Staff is evaluating how to return Expo Line service to its prior 6-minute headways during AM and PM peak commute hours when we reopen the Blue Line in late October. Both line schedules must be coordinated to reduce train congestion delays at the shared DTLA track junction.

As a friendly reminder, we recommend riders place bicycles, strollers and luggage in the designated areas on board trains — see the yellow line markings on the floor — and to keep the doorways clear by moving to the center of the car. That allows other riders to more quickly board and exit trains at each station. If you have a large backpack, it helps to move it to the front of your body, or set the bag between your feet instead.

And one last note regarding crowded trains: not being able to sit down does not equal too crowded. We certainly don’t want you to not be able to board a train, but we’re a mass transit agency in the second-largest metro area in the nation. We want a train that carries more people than just the number of seats.

Metro would like to thank you for your patience as we work to improve service on the Expo Line. Metro will continue to closely watch for instances of crowding and welcomes customer feedback to improve your trip. Please leave a comment on this blog, follow us on Twitter or use Metro’s Customer Care online form.

37 replies

    • Although inappropriate you don’t know if someone young has a disability. I often think it’s best that younger people should enter the bus first as older people will only slowly clog the front of the bus. It’s very inefficient but I still let them go first, always mind your manners.

  1. I disagree that we want trains that are consistently short on seats. If we want people to give up their comfy seats in their cars, Metro will be needing to offer a viable alternative… i.e. a seat on a train. You can drop the attitude.

    • Totally agree! The Metro Board and staff don’t. That said, it costs money to run trains and it begs the question: would you be willing to pay more in fare to have more free seats on trains?

  2. As a long-time rider of BOTH Expo AND Blue Lines (as well as Red/Purple, Gold, and Orange Lines), I must say it is more than a little Interesting how vociferous the complaints have been about crowding on the Expo Line–and the solicitous concern that Metro has shown–as compared to the much lower level of complaints about crowding on the Blue Line (back when it was running) and how little interest Metro showed about that problem.

    Remember, before Metro finally shut down the Blue Line last winter, the ridership on the Blue Line was ALWAYS greater than on the Expo Line–despite the fact that Metro ALWAYS has provided fewer daily trains on the Blue Line than on the Expo Line. The peak weekday ridership on the Expo Line (after the completion of its extension to Santa Monica) has run around 62,000–while the peak weekday ridership on the Blue Line was as high as 78,000 or more (until deteriorating Blue-Line service and Metro’s continued slashing of Blue-Line train schedules began to force more and more riders off the Blue Line. Even during the last few months of operation of the entire Blue Line (prior to last winter’s shutdown), the Blue Line had MORE weekday riders than Expo, but FEWER trains than Expo

    One can only wonder whether Metro’s relative disinterest in the historic overcrowding situation on the Blue Line, in comparison to Metro’s much greater expressed concerns about overcrowding on the Expo Line, could be attributed to the fact that a greater proportion of the Blue Line’s total length runs through some of the poorest, most transit-dependent, and least political powerful areas of L.A. County while more of the Expo Line’s total length serves relatively higher-income areas (including the Westside).

    Of course, most Expo Line riders have no idea how much better their service is (despite its overcrowding) than what Blue Line riders have had to endure for years.

    Even if Metro were to become as interested in the welfare and convenience of the more economically disadvantaged Blue-Line riders as Metro seems to be about the relatively more affluent Expo-Line riders, any solution to the problems of overcrowding on both rail lines depends upon resolution to the problem presented by the bottleneck of the “Washington Wye”–a product of incompetent planning by Metro.

    If Metro ever finishes its long-delayed refurbishment of the decrepit Blue Line, and even if any significant proportion of former passengers who have deserted the Blue Line in droves over the past five years or so were to return, I can confidently predict that Metro will continue its historic policy of short-changing the economically deprived Blue-Line riders relative to more affluent Westside Expo Line riders.

    • Your ridership numbers don’t take into account the fact that the Blue Line is much longer than the Expo Line, so of course it will have more total riders. But if you look at riders PER MILE, the Expo Line is actually much busier and has higher ridership.
      But thanks for turning this into a racial issue, despite the fact that the Expo Line runs through the heart of West Adams and predominantly minority/low income areas for its entire eastern half before reaching downtown, just like the Blue Line does for its middle portion between Long Beach and Downtown LA.

  3. I know it’s decades away, but I hope Metro learns its lesson here when it comes time to “upgrade” the Orange Line to Light Rail. The Orange Line is already at capacity, and when the upgraded LRT opens it will be at capacity the day it opens. Combined with grade crossings throughout the Valley the same thing is going to happen.

    We voted for the sales tax increase because we want a useful system. We don’t want a bunch of disconnected LRT lines we have to transfer to/from. We want fully grade separated heavy rail, be it in a subway, or elevated crossings.

  4. Why the busiest line would run less frequently and have fewer trains makes no sense. Commuting in LA is not a 1 hour window. Where in the world did you get that idea. How about running the trains more frequently for a few hours in the morning and afternoon. What happened to the extra trains ordered when Expo first opened. The Expo is crowded often and there should be several trains. I have traveled at less busy times and the trains are still full. Maybe the Metro needs to visit other cities like NY, Wash DC, Chicago, etc., and see what they do at different times of the day. The Expo line needs more attention, more frequency, more train lines. You want to encourage people to take the trains and then do things like this? Makes no sense. Very frustrating.

  5. It seems that the “taking out seats” movement has finally gained some momentum. This can be implemented via a pilot program and one of the easiest way to do this might be to remove the 4 seats across from the bicycle/luggage area and taking out the separation panel between the door and the luggage area. A few more dangling handles and this should greatly improve circulation of bikes. I also want to see some vertical bike racks eventually.

    Also, it seems that the few seats at the end of the cars are always mobbed by just 1 person looking to man/woman/person-spread and there is very little utility for having seats there. It would make sense to remove those seats and the separation panel at the door adjacent to those seats.

    [copied to]

  6. To everyone wondering why Metro decided to cut service on the Expo Line of all Lines

    THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RIDERSHIP. This is happening because from an operational standpoint, Metro is failing to keep trains on schedule, especially during rush hour. Metro cannot keep the trains running on schedule at 6 min frequency. Unfortunately Metro honestly thought an extra min to 2 wasn’t a big deal and yet here we are.

    This problem won’t be solved until there is full Grade Separation of both the Blue and Expo Line in Downtown. Let’s face it, we were all desperate to have a train line finally go to Santa Monica and this now the price to pay for not waiting to have the Line Grade Separated along Flower.

    Signal Priority will not solve the problem here, only grade separation as both the Blue and Expo have to fight for priority not only with each other, but with Vehicle traffic as well with the current configuration.

    • The whole “conflict” or “fighting” with car traffic is completely artificial as the city of LA hasn’t been willing to allow signal preemption due to car culture. At least now it looks like some real discussion at the city level is going to take place for once though regarding this issue. If trains can actually get proper preemption, that’s at last half the problem solved right there just in the interim.

  7. Well said Dan! In general LA is very hostile toward public transit. Politicians have to answer to their constituents of which 90% of them drive. The incentive is always to drive not mass transit. They really go out of their way to make it as unattractive as possible. I have just about no confidence in the metro board, none I assume even use the system but think they know what the system needs. I could have sworn that in the past the policy was one in which frequency was based on every person having a seat or perhaps it was a dream. Those are my two bus tokens (which are worthless now).

  8. I would not mind if Metro removes some seats near the doors and consider longitudinal seating configuration, similar to the SF Mini Metro new vehicles. There is not much standing room in the light rail vehicles, and there should be more open spaces on the train for standing room as well as people who carry large items such as luggage, bikes, or strollers on board.

  9. People are not standing for 5-10 minutes in the downtown core for a couple of stops. They are generally standing for 20+ minutes for the long portion between West LA and USC.

    • They stand for long stretches on the subway in NYC, on the Tube in London, in Tokyo, etc. When I used the Red to the Silver to the Green and reverse, I never sat the whole way. People do it allllll the time.

  10. I find the comment about “not being able to sit down does not equal too crowded” somewhat condescending in light of the reason for these trains suddenly having overcrowding.

    I can understand trains being crowded because so many people want to use it that Metro, even trying its best, simply cannot physically fit more trains onto the track safely. This is the kind of overcrowding that I experienced while living in Chicago and taking the public transit there, and I was perfectly happy to deal with it because I could tell that the CTA was actually doing the best they could given the constraints they had.

    But I cannot understand trains being so crowded because Metro inexplicably cut service on the one train line that was showing some success in attracting riders, in order to save a relatively minuscule amount of money, while also wondering why their ridership is plunging across the system. Before the cuts the Expo line trains were relatively crowded still, but since they came more frequently for more hours during the rush period, I could pretend that Metro seemed to care about my time.

    When riders can tell that a transit agency has some concern for them, and is truly trying to provide the best service that they can, I feel that riders will generally be more forgiving and understanding.

    But this latest service cut is just another in a long line of off-peak service cuts that make me think that no one at Metro actually rides their own system outside of a tiny peak window during rush hour. And I think it’s that attitude of essentially nickel-and-diming the frequencies of the system at other times of the day that riders have started to revolt against.

  11. Now fire the people who proposed the service cuts. It was ridiculous to even consider cutting service on such a busy line. We pay 2% of our sales tax to Metro and we should expect more than just the bare minimum. Same goes for bus service.

    • You mean your elected officials? That’s called an election. Unfortunately, the way the Board is setup your vote may count less than someone in City of Los Angeles or some other represented city.

  12. Hi Anna, is there any chance that Metro might be willing to consider posting the updated Expo line timetables on As of now, clicking on “Maps & Timetables” and then “Metro Expo Line” downloads the schedules from August 24, which haven’t been valid for the past two weeks. Could you possibly help look into this?

    • Hi,

      Yes, I’ll check with staff to see if it can be updated.


      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  13. Turning the seats sideways like a NY Subway car? Would that boost capacity?
    Truthfully, bikes almost need to be banned at rush hour short term until a longer term solution can be done for capacity, let alone speed (street running, the wye etc.) The bike takes up the room of 2 standing persons..
    Too bad platforms weren’t 4 cars and the 4th car could be only for wheelchairs, strollers (another item that takes up people space) and bikes, kind of like Metrolink.

  14. Please consider additional operator training to reduce sudden stops and jerky motions on board. The ride is often not smooth which makes it uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe to stand, which is a major deterrent to riders. Hard to understand why such things would occur on our system, when I’ve yet to experience them on modern transit systems around the world.

  15. I think with renaming the lines, its also time we talk about seats being removed and creating more standing room.

    • Could not agree more. If peak trains are already at 175% capacity then what happens when 30k riders are added via Crenshaw? It will be madness.

  16. It’s still amazing that Metro finally has a new, successful light rail line yet you decide to cut service. You better figure out the Washington wye fast because once Crenshaw/LAX opens the crowding is going to be 10x worse. Speaking of which, has Metro developed a plan yet for Expo once Crenshaw/LAX opens?

    • When the Crenshaw Line opens, I hope it wont be popular…I would hate for Metro to cut service again!

  17. Just want to share how to (even while the train is entering the platform) quickly locate the designated bike/luggage/stroller area in a Metro light rail train car, i.e., which half of train car it is at.

    The power-receiving pantograph on top of the train car always points to the “A” car. The designated bike/luggage/stroller area is always in the “B” car.

    • For signals in LA, hound the Mayor’s office. The Mayor can basically tell LADOT to make it happen ASAP. The boss at LADOT serves at the pleasure of the Mayor. So, if they are not getting things done, out they go.

  18. The peak is still going after 7pm. Trains are still overcrowded. Peak time is not just one hour. Not impressed.