Coming soon…the A Line — and a primer on Metro Line Letters

It has been awhile since we’ve talked about line letters for Metro’s rail and bus rapid transit lines, which is always a favorite subject of readers! With the letters issue in the news a bit these days, we’d like to offer a brief refresher on where things stand.

The Metro Board of Directors approved a new Line Letters naming system in November of 2018. The reasons we’re moving toward line letters are threefold:

  • Consistency: we want one cohesive systemwide naming convention. At present we’re inconsistent. Most lines are named after colors, but the Expo Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line are derived from street names and places. We think that’s confusing.
  • Accessibility: our current system map — which is very reliant on colors — is difficult to read for those who are color blind. Adding letters helps avoid that problem.
  • New signage at Pico Station for the A Line and E Line.

    Future planning: our system is growing; a couple lines are being joined together and continuing with only color names will mean selecting line names based on shades of color that will sometimes be difficult to distinguish and decipher from one another. Letters plus colors, we believe, will make it clearer to residents and visitors who use our system.

The Metro Blue Line will be the first rail line using the new naming convention when it reopens in October 2019. Metro senior leaders always referred to the new line as “The A Line.”  However, somehow the “Line A” lexicon creeped into the picture. We’re happy that public feedback over the summer brought the issue to our attention. Thus, the name “A Line” will be the official name.

What does this mean for the average rider? Honestly, not very much. The majority of station signage simply shows the color dot with the letter A. The smaller tactile/Braille signs that show ‘Line A’ will eventually be updated.

The rest of Metro Rail and the Silver Line and Orange Line will transition to the new naming convention when the Crenshaw/LAX Line opens. For those curious as to why Crenshaw/LAX Line does not have a letter name at this time, staff is still working to finalize the operational plan.

And, finally, this morsel. We’re currently building the Regional Connector, which will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. When the Regional Connector opens, the Long Beach to Azusa line will be the A Line while the Santa Monica to East Los Angeles will become the E Line. The J Line will be used for the Gold Line during the transition phase and will be retired when the Connector opens.

20 replies

  1. As long as the trains run on time and the air conditioner doesn’t break down, you can use whatever naming convention you want.

  2. METRO should use destination names with numbers (like the freeways) which is less confusing. HI uses Route Numbers with Destination names (52 Circle Island (this bus goes around the island); 52 Wahiawa/Mililani (this bus goes to Wahiawa/Mililani only); 8 Waikiki (this bus goes to Waikiki only), etc with stops longs the way unless it’s the EXPRESS BUS which goes from point A to poiint B with NO STOPS in-between since it goes on the freeway in HOV lane).

  3. Keep it simple for the public .please keep it in simplicity you all are thoroughness lets keep it thorough.Jeremy Smith

  4. It’s confusing to have some lines with letters and some without, some lines named after colors, and some lines not. I like the idea of using both letters and colors as in NYC, but you should be consistent. Change everything now, or change everything later, but changing some now and some later only makes it more confusing. I get that you don’t want to have to change letters later, but it’s better to be consistent now even if that means making some changes later. So, either go with A (Blue), B (Red), C (Green), D (Purple), E (Aqua), F (Orange), G (Silver), and some other letter (Gold), knowing that you will eventually be changing E to Gold and adding J later, or just keep the current colors-only system until you’re ready to introduce a complete set of letters.

    • This is what I was thinking as well. Really wish Metro would stop overhyping it’s expansion more than it is actually expanding. Yeah, I can see this becoming a problem in 2028, but not in 2020. Not to mention the majority of the expansions are of lines already in operation.

  5. Really wished Metro would’ve taken a page out of BART’s playbook and name the lines by locations served. Ex: Long Beach-Foothill Line, North Hollywood-DTLA Line, Santa Monica-East LA Line, etc.

  6. So, you have an article about the new letter scheme, but there is no table showing it. Also, for the future lines (WSAB, ESFV/Sepulveda, etc.) Metro should not run away scared from brown/tan and black. There are plenty of people of all sorts of colors spread all over the region. Not changing the gold color to a simple yellow was a mistake. Once there finally is a express service to LAX (and hopefully other places), Metro should adopt the diamond symbol for the express.

  7. Interesting Whom are the we People?
    big deal. It’s a free country. No law against.
    Just don’t or ever Trespass, through the Constitution Zone.where indicated. Besides. The News Media, always, gives their 2 Cent option .

  8. Well, you’ve built a confusing system from the start! Light rail that is slow in some areas and true rapid transit in other areas…heavy rail that is true rapid transit….and busways….and bus lines called rapid that are not rapid. The Orange line looks like rapid transit on a map, but isn’t rapid, like the red and purple lines. I’m exhausted trying to explain this! L.A. should have built a system like the metro rail in Washington DC or Montreal. The whole shebang is confusing.

  9. Love the letters, even if I’m not a fan of how the A and E lines will share tracks downtown, meaning people will need to know if they’re on the A or the E when they approach a transfer station. Just imagining someone saying in English that they’re on the “A” and someone hearing it as how the letter “E” is pronounced in Spanish, or vice versa.

  10. Yeah, except people have been “Pasadena/Foothill Gold Line” and “Hollywood Red Line” for ages. Oddly enough it’s only the BRTs that people call out by color. The “Crenshaw/LAX Line” actually fits the line perfectly. It lets out oft owners know that “hey, this train goes to the Airport” (even though it still actually doesn’t).

  11. Please, please we don’t need everyone to learn the j line for 2 years and then forget it. Just leave it the gold line until the regional connector opens.

      • Change signage ?!!
        L.A..will never (ever) have FULL TIME ridership to make these changes viable.
        Yes, i agree with ADA visual compliance for color challenged individuals, the colored routes are not recognizable. But, just spell out the name (in larger font) for goodness sake.
        The funding for all these changes should be used to place actual security personnel on the conveyances…not loitering on the platforms (such as current LAPD do). I’ve not seen one LAPD officer ride the bus/subway to stop all of the beggars, homeless, urination/ eating/ loud musice/ theft/graffiti/etc.).
        Why change an infrastructure tthat has already invested millions of dollars in signage…and has been uniquely identifiable to L.A. residents and visitors.
        Thr MTA is trying to turn L.A. transit into New York transit names at ridership expenses.
        Our monies should be used for security…first…not last.
        No resident in L.A. will be 100% convinced to give up their primary car or alternative (Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, rental, etc) to be stuck on a bus/train weaving through the vastness of los angeles.
        The MTA Los Angeles system will never be an intuitive system that is safe and matter how many new signs are used.
        Case in point L.A. Metro isnt thinking clearly: they propose an express bus between Pasadena and North Hollywood routed through Eagle Rock.
        First, there is the Gold Line to Union Station to Red Line.
        Second, the only way an express bus will beat the time an underground train is limiting stops. There are no stops planned in Eaglr Rock.
        Third: who the hell needs a link bewteen Pasadena and North Hollywood.
        Fourth: shaking my head at another dumb pork barrel project at rider expense.
        What this winded abstract is trying to expmain is simple.
        L.A. Metro does not have a grounded idea of what their system is limited to…and what i can never achieve due to the vastness of the L.A. basin.
        Stay with color (there are only give primary colors + a few grades of othwr colors) that can be unique for the rail and express lines…and spend their attention on the real problems afflicting the system.