Get to know your line letters!

More line letters will soon be coming your way!

Most of you have probably already noticed our transition to the A Line (Blue) and E Line (Expo), and the brand new signage on the A Line. The rest of our rail lines are now following suit.

The updated line letter names will be as follows:

Signage at Pico Station for the A Line and E Line.

The plan is for all Metro Rail and Bus Rapid Transit stations to have updated permanent signage with line letter names within the next few years. During the transition, riders may see both color and letter symbols throughout the system.

The service colors in use will remain the same. We’ll also use a transitional naming system using both the letter and the color to refer to the line, as in the graphic above. For example: A Line (Blue). This transitional naming will eventually be phased out.

On digital platforms such as our website, digital kiosks and transit apps, you’ll start seeing changes within a few weeks. Printed material will be updated as the opportunity arises, and we will prioritize timetables and maps in order to keep riders informed.

For those curious as to why the Crenshaw/LAX Line does not have a letter name at this time, staff is still working to finalize the operational plan.

The Metro Board of Directors approved an update to the naming convention in November 2018. The reasons for the update are:

  • Consistency: Consistency is the key to improving legibility, ease of use and trip information on the transit system. Our previous line naming convention was not consistent.
  • Accessibility: We have received customer feedback that some of the colors on our map are difficult to distinguish (e.g., red/purple, blue/aqua), especially for riders who are color blind. Adding a second identifier to line names helps avoid this issue.
  • Future planning: our system is growing, which is great news, but it means that we’re running out of clearly distinguishable colors for our future line. Adding a letter as a second identifier for our line names will allow us to have a predictable and consistent naming system as we grow.    

And before leaving a comment, let me preemptively address some of the questions/comments I’ve seen on social media and in media coverage.

  • No, we’re not trying to copy New York City.  Many other transit systems around the world use letters because it’s a clear and easy to use method to label transit lines on a map.  
  • Yes, we’re omitting some letters already commonly used on maps (H for hospitals or I for information point, for example). 
  • We know that some of you will continue using the colors to refer to the lines, and that’s okay. However, all of Metro’s official materials will be using line letters and, in time, we think everyone will become accustomed to the new line letters. 
  • What is the future of the L Line (Gold)? We’re currently building the Regional Connector, which will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines. When the Regional Connector opens, the plan is for the Long Beach to Azusa line to become the A Line while the Santa Monica to East Los Angeles will become the E Line. The L Line (Gold) name will be retired.

49 replies

  1. This’s simply the worst idea…

    This’ll turn into a meme and everyone will be lost in the system

    At least don’t letter the Gold Line “L Line” it’s so stupid as it’ll retire in two years.

  2. What happens when we run out of letters? I’ll tell you what: We’ll be super stoked to have such a robust rail system!

    • Hi Tony;

      From LAist:

      Transit agency spokesman Rick Jager put it a bit more delicately, telling LAist that out of an “abundance of caution,” Metro decided to “avoid letters that may lead to some type of offensive characterization of a particular line.”

      That sums it up!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Well, couldn’t we expect more creativity out a place that is the entertainment capital of the world?
    London Underground uses names for lines, ones are meaningful, such as geographical, commemorative, historical, etc.
    For map clarity, each line has a distinct color, but no one ever refers to a line by color.
    We have a rich history and cultural diversity in our region to provide any number of names.
    Hire some out-of-work writers if Metro can’t come up with anything better than the alphabet.

  4. I’m upset. With the dropping of the “F”, The Cold Line no longer lines up with the letter J Which Many thought to be a tribute to the late Jonathan Gold since he taught us to explore the little hole in the wall places in East LA, Boyle Heights, and the San Gabriel Valley as well as many other places. Can it be changed back?

  5. Thanks for the reference! It gives me a chance to get used to the letters as they’re being phased in.

    Also, I don’t think they’ll run out of letters (really folks!?!). [Consider the ‘A2’, ‘L3’, etc.]. Twenty years from now the names will be so ingrained, we will wax nostalgically on when letters were introduced.

  6. I understand why H, I, and P would not be used as line identifiers, but it appears that K is also missing. Is that because it might be used for the Crenshaw/LAX line, or is there some other reason K is being skipped? (I don’t recall seeing K as a common icon on wayfinding maps.)

    • The Crenshaw line might go down onto the tail of the current Green line, or it might split and also run one the Green to the east. The Green will likely run up to the LAX station. How they plan on operating is currently not yet settled. It might be that 2 different lines run on the same tracks.

  7. So the color will eventually be abandoned right? otherwise what is the purpose of changing to letter! also why not name the letter according to original color name? like Red Line = R Line, Blue line = B line, Green Line = G Line. Expo Line = E Line. Crenshaw Line = C Line.

    • The colors will not be abandoned and will remain as a secondary identifier for the lines.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

    • Your example forgot to mention P for Purple Line (which would not work as “P” is one of the letters that is being skipped as it’s a common indicator of parking) and G for the Gold Line, which would not work as G would already represent the Green Line). I think for now, Metro’s new naming system is a decent solution.

  8. Metro: Consistency is key.
    Also Metro: we skipping somenletters, also some of these lines are gonna merge and be renamed soon.

  9. I think it would have been better to use the first letter of the current colour for the old lines. At least if a new user asks as old user where the A line station is, they won’t both be confused. It’s a lot easier for those of us who already know the lines and still serves the purpose. The newer lines can use the rest of the letters in alphabetical order.

  10. If anything, please use the line color that’s digitally on the destination signs (on the P3010s and soon, HR4000s) to display the letters within the colors similar to San Francisco

  11. It does seem like it would make more sense not to waste L on the gold line and just leave gold line signage as-is until the regional connector opens.

    Or give gold line some letter like Z that wouldn’t otherwise be used for a long time. That way L can be assigned to one of the upcoming lines (crenshaw, one of the ones in the valley, etc.) without confusion. By the time Z comes up again in a few decades it will be ok to reuse it without confusion.

  12. Yeah. . . I’m still gonna call the currently existing lines by color though, even after the regional connector opens. Thanks for taking a page from other American rail systems (Seriously?), but I might only be calling the New Lines by letters. Not to mention, calling “B Line” or even “2 Line” just sounds stupid at best.

    One honest question though: Does Metro have a Plan B for when we run out of letters?

    • In New York, generally people say “Take the 1 down to the ____ station and change there to the C” etc. They frequently don’t use the word “Line”. I think that in LA we will drop the “line” too.

      • Nope, NYC classifies a line by a section of track. LA classifies a line as the actual route of a service. That’s why the say “Take the A Train” instead. Metro will not drop the “line” in route names.

  13. If it is one thing the MTA knows how to do well, is waste resources! Just look at the boongdoggle of the Regional Connector & the re-vamprd Blue Line!

    • “Just look at the boongdoggle of the Regional Connector” – how?? If anything this opens the doors to many opportunities, including finally moving to Distance based fares on the rail lines (yeah, I said it).

    • Regional Connector is one of the best projects around

      1. It give the Blue and Expo lines a lot more stations in downtown LA.
      2. Gold Line now will go into the heart of downtown LA.
      3. The Red/Purple line does not have to double as a distributor for three light rails lines.
      4. Gold line will no longer be separated from the rest of the light rail system
      5. Metrolink passengers will have an additional set of stations they can get to.
      6. 7th/Metro is no longer a bottleneck because trains have to turn around there.
      7. People who go to USC and/or Staples Center will have much better options

      Did I miss anything?

      • Hi James —

        Agree. I want to stress the Connector is especially helpful to the Eastside Gold Line, which forces riders presently to detour to Union Station for a transfer to the subway to reach the heart of downtown. That’s a time muncher and we know that many people will commute by the mode that gets them there quickest. As for the other leg of the Gold Line, the Connector will for many eliminate the forced transfer at Union Station to reach the heart of DTLA. In rush hour, the transfer isn’t a major consumer of time, but it still isn’t as convenient as simply staying on the train. The same goes for A and E Line riders who need to transfer to the subway at 7th/Metro.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  14. It’s is pretty dumb to bother changing the Gold Line name if it will eventually be changed again. Waste of resources to change signage and other supporting references.

    Also, will trains be added to that line when merged with the blue line? That’s a long line to travel. I hope service doesn’t suffer because of it.

  15. I dunno, my family is New Yorkers, so its easier for me personally to A train, B train, C train, D train, G train. J and L. Those are buses. Lol.

    It will take some time, but A Line just sounds cringy to me.

  16. In San Francisco, their “light-rail” transit lines have letters, with their “destinations” (or Predominant street the line runs on, e.g. L Traval, N-Judah, etc.). “E-Exposition” is a good example for Metro to use. What will confuse riders though is the “Orange Line” and “Silver Line”, which are BOTH BUSES! They should still stick with NUMBERS, and let the light-rail/subway lines have the letters.

    • I have always liked that about MUNI. Numbers and Letters (and colors for that matter) always seem a bit dry. It is useful to know the main street that a line goes on.

    • The express bus lines could all be X with a number. X1 – Orange X2 – Silver.

      Conversely, if the Orange Line is ever converted to rail, with the current system, there is no need to change.

  17. One problem is that B, C, D, E, and G are easily confused in speech – they rhyme. Better to use the NATO alphabet: Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Golf. Even better, meaningful names like Beach, Cahuenga, Century, Wilshire etc.

    • Awful idea Thomas. NATO alphabet is not very multilingual. Secondly, Why try to jam in all that English text on a subway map when a simple letter takes virtually no room at all.

      Naming lines like beach, cahuenga, century….. is not very smart either. You only make travellers confused about trips on that line moving away from the destination. If you head away from the Beach on the Beach line towards Downtown…it doesn’t make sense. It complicates everything.

      • So do letters though. How is a letter beneficial in any shape or form especially when it’s still going to be assigned a color to be differentiated from other rail lines anyways?

        Geographical name rail lines actually give people an idea of where he/she is going. You seriously mean to tell me that “Hollywood-LAX Line” is going to confuse people? How? The only thing the letter A does for me is “oh okay, this is A train going to where again?”

        And yes I speak from Experience, Geographical name rail lines have definitely prevented me from getting completely lost other places outside the US.

        Also, Metrolink already does this. You mean to tell me that OC residents get confused by “Orange County Line” when those AM train are heading to Downtown.

  18. Compression isn’t universal. This is long overdue it’s enough for old commuters to make the adjustment and still help newbies, tourist, the visionally impaired, and that one person who’s in such a hurry the simplest reference would be a welcome relief. Having to use the “magenta line” would have been difficult. Now let’s use up this alphabet!

  19. If the “L” letter id going to be “retired” when the “Regional Connector” gets operational (which will happen in 2022, 23, 24, ….28?), why even have it to begin with? It’s just going to add confusion to the “Alphabet Soup” of changing colors to letters!

  20. Can you also please prominently display the train line on the front and sides of the train? It’s helpful when two trains share the same track (Purple/Red) and you’re quickly trying to tell which train is in or approaching the station.

  21. Shouldn’t the E line use a different color (say Gold) when the RC is complete? That way we don’t have 2 blue lines.
    WSAB, ESFV, Sep Pass, and other planned future line should all have letters chosen at single time. Don’t worry about keep toward the start of the alphabet. Reserve X for a potential future special from DTLA to LAX with limited stops (Using the A line to the C line to the LAX hub). Z could be other special routing

  22. You’ve got no idea how good you’ve got it! Here in NYC it takes decades to build one subway station. The Second Ave Subway took 90 years to build. It’s three stations. Everything, even small projects, go years over schedule and billions over budget. Los Angeles, comparatively, is absolutely killing it.

    I say this as a former LA County resident who has now been in NYC for nearly 15 years.

  23. You should leave things alone instead of making riders memorize new names for the trains. Name future lines after letters if you want to do so.

    I respect your desire to accomodate color blind passengers. However a color blind passnger can read the title “Red Line” on a train or on a map, as easily as that passenger can read the title “B Line”. Simlarly, I assume that a passenger who cannot see at all can read “Red Line” in braille, or by listening to audio cues, as easily as that passenger can observe the cue, “B Line”.

    • Speaking as someone who is red-green colorblind, the hue of the green and red colors are significantly different. Color blindness comes in degrees, so I can’t comment for everyone, but the difference Is very clear to me.

      And what other systems globally use letters? Is it really worth losing the grand identity?

      • Systems that use letters?
        NYC, Denver, SF Muni, Tokyo, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Prague, Minneapolis, Paris RER, Rome, Bilbao…

        • “Tokyo” – Tokyo Metro uses geographical locations, in addition to letters as well, and the automated announcements use the names of the lines “Ginza Line, Chiyoda Line, Fukutoshin Line” which should have been the Case here, and use numbers for stations.

          What exactly is the game plan when we run out of letters?

          I’m sorry, but following other systems in the US, which have some of the worst systems on the planet, isn’t exactly a smart choice.

      • Systems that use colors:

        Sacramento, Portland, Chicago El, WMATA (Washington DC), San Diego Trolley, Seattle? Miami?

  24. Build faster please! Metro Construction projects are taking too long. By the time they’re built, they’re outdated and does not sufficiently address the needs anymore. If you’re buying a train system now and not putting it play until 15 or 20 years, it’s like buying a new car and not driving it for 15-20 years. By that time the newer cars will be better.