Bus shuttles to replace L Line (Gold) service between Union Station and Pico/Aliso Station during 22-month closure to complete Regional Connector


Metro’s Regional Connector Transit Project has reached an important phase: connecting the L Line (Gold) tracks in Little Tokyo/Arts District to the new 1.9-mile twin rail tunnels under downtown L.A. that will ultimately tie together the A (Blue), E (Expo) and L Lines.

Completing that work will require a 22-month service interruption for the L Line beginning with the start of service on Saturday, October 24. During construction:

•L Line trains will run between Azusa and Union Station.

•L Line trains will run between Pico/Aliso Station and Atlantic Station.

•A bus shuttle will run between Union Station, Little Tokyo, the Arts District and Pico/Aliso stations.

The bus shuttle will depart from Bay 5 at Union Station’s Patsaouras Plaza and make the following stops: 1st St/San Pedro St, 1st St/Vignes St and 1st St/G.G.Marquez. Buses will run on the same schedule as trains — every 12 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes in the early morning and late evening.

Metro will do its best to minimize any inconvenience to riders and we’ll do our best to apply lessons learned during last year’s A Line closures and 2016’s three-month closure of the L Line in Little Tokyo and the Arts District to build temporary tracks on 1st Street.

This is the final push for Regional Connector construction. As part of the construction, the tracks from East L.A. and Azusa will both be connected to the tunnel. The current Little Tokyo/Arts District street-level station will also be demolished and replaced by a new underground station that will be on the other (south/west) side of Alameda Street. That is a more convenient location for many riders.

Click map to see larger version.

The A, E and L Lines are scheduled to begin using the new tunnels in late 2022.

The Regional Connector will make rides on Metro’s light rail system to and through downtown L.A. more convenient and either eliminate or minimize the need to transfer for many riders.

As the map at right shows, under the operating plan that Metro staff recommends, the A, E and L Lines will essentially merge together to become two lines.

One would run between East Los Angeles and Santa Monica. The other would run between Azusa and Long Beach. Riders will be able to transfer between the two lines at three new underground stations in downtown L.A. as well as the existing 7th/Metro Center and Pico stations in DTLA.

For L Line riders, there’s also this benefit: trains from both Azusa and East L.A. will travel directly into the heart of downtown L.A., thereby eliminating the time-munching need to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station. That’s a huge plus for riders coming from East L.A. who presently have to ride north on the L Line before switching to the subway to ride back south. 

Metro’s Construction Relations team has been out in the community this summer informing stakeholders of the upcoming work and bus shuttles. Public service announcements, ads and Metro’s social media streams will be providing more info to the public in the coming weeks and months. We’ll also be pushing informational items such as construction notices, fact sheets and mailers that will be available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Korean and Japanese. Notifications in Chinese will also be included.

A 24/7 in-language assistance project hotline can be reached at 213-922-7277 to address concerns. Metro’s Trip Planner and 323-Go-Metro will also be ready to assist riders with their trip planning needs.

27 replies

  1. “It’s being built as a Y — the track from Azusa and from East LA go straight into the new underground Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. Trains will not be able to run directly between East LA and Azusa.”

    Wait, hang on, that means the transfer is done on the same platform? You know, this means the transfer doesn’t have to be done AT ALL if there are crossovers on either direction. That means that as an Azusa train is approaching Little Tokyo, can proceed to the platform but instead of continuing Downtown, the operator switches cars, and then proceeds to East LA/Whittier and switch to the appropriate track at a crossover, which can also be done even before approaching Little Tokyo.

    There’s already crossover tracks just across the street of the current Little Tokyo station, but oddly enough the other is before Mariachi Plaza. This could be done with essentially no delay at all or at worst adding an extra min to the Gold Line schedule but then again considering how Metro already is going to be operating this thing south of Downtown, I can tell they might find a way to screw this up.

    • No it’s 2 years to connect the tracks together and destroy the station, even though to be honest, they can probably keep the station open by simply tie one end first, then tie the other end, this probably would have allowed some sort of service into the current Little Tokyo station. Instead the station the station will be shut down and destroyed altogether. I could be wrong but it doesn’t seem like the new 101 flyover has even been built yet.

      If that is the case, you would think they’d built the flyover first until it’s finally time to tie the loose ends together, causing lesser impacts. But hey, there’s obviously something I don’t know and by all means I’m not calling myself an expert, but it does seem like there would have been alternatives that could have slashed the time of closure by half of what it currently will be.

      • Not to mention tunneling under the Red Line and dealing with 100+ years of who knows what they were going to dig up.

  2. What’s the real travel times that are being predicted that this shuttle will take to go between Pico to Union Station?

    Currently travel time between Pico and Union Station is 6 minutes including the stop at Little Tokyo. During rush hour this can be a little slower depending on if the train hits the lights at Aliso or Mission Rd. Google Maps predicts that this could be as long twenty minutes during rush hours.

    This shuttle bus looks like it could be a significantly longer slog than then train. What’s being done to minimize travel times?

    Will bus lanes on first st be painted? Will the shuttle run on the gold line’s row (over the tracks on the bridge?) Are train departures being timed to shuttle bus arrivals and vice versa? Is 30 bus service being increased? Could a shuttle directly to 7MC be run to eliminate the transfer to BD lines for those going to A or E lines?

    As a rider of the gold line between Soto Station to 7th St Metro Center, I want to share my concerns about this shuttle bus route. You guys did a great job with the New Blue shuttles. I’m hoping that we gold line riders get some of that innovation too!

  3. After the Regional Connector is open, when someone is transferring between A Line and E Line, it is considered a transfer and requires tapping the TAP card again, under the current policy.

    Will Metro consider eliminating this step (similarly when transferring between B Line and D Line, or between A Line and C Line at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station)?

    In other words, as long as a passenger is transferring between two lines that are connected inside the paid area of the station, it should not require tapping again.

  4. Although annoying, Now is probably the best time for this to occur.

    Also, please don’t call this an interruption and call it what it actually is. It’s the end of the Line for the Gold Line. Once this is complete, the first train on passenger trains running through these tunnels will be Blue Line and Expo Line trains.

    Lastly, I REALLY hope the agency still considers having Little Tokyo to Azusa only service in addition to the thru-traffic trains going to Long Beach because best believe you WILL lose current Gold Line riders now if your going to subject them to the same exact delays that still happen on the Gold Line today.

    Really the Gold Line should’ve just kept its own identity.

    • Dave, I think the benefits of a one-seat ride to the downtown core will result in an overall increase in Gold Line passengers. Also, passengers along the East LA branch will have a one-seat ride to USC and westside job and cultural/entertainment centers (Culver City, West LA, Santa Monica), and for Azusa branch passengers, this will become an easy same-platform transfer– these trips are currently three-seat rides for Gold Line passengers today.

      • I never said it wasn’t beneficial, but the truth is the Blue Line Sucks period. It is ridiculously prone to having dirty trains and delays and the current Gold Line will now be tied to that. Think about it.

        Yet, somehow Metro will not discuss how to address these issues at all. What if there is significant delays between DTLA and LB?? Will DTLA to Montclair passengers be punished as well or will there be DTLA to Montclair only trains in regular schedule that way persistent delays can be kept at a minimal. This also works vice-versa for the Gold Line as well.

        This kind of scheduling you plan for YEARS in advance, not 6 weeks before revenue operations.

        So while one seat rides can result is ridership increase, dirty trains and delays will result in overall DECREASE in ridership.

        I’m just being realistic here, that’s all.

    • Hi Tom —

      Good question. I’ll get you an answer tomorrow.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi Tom,

      The artwork “Buffer Zone,” created by Hirokazu Kosaka, was displayed at the station from 2009 to 2017, when its removal was completed in coordination with the artist.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. so what you’re saying is that the regional connector is expected to finally open in December 2022? i wasn’t aware that there would be tracks mimicking the current route of the L Line to turn north at Little Tokyo from the east – i thought the tracks both enter the tunnel and would require a turn back to get to the other branch? so the line is actually being discontinued? because calling it a “service interruption” makes it seem like a one seat service between Azusa and Atlantic will be coming back after 22 months.

    • Hi Rosa —

      Correct, trains will no longer run directly between Azusa and East L.A. To mimic that route, you would switch trains at the new Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. We think the new operating plan will serve more people — i.e. riders who want to ride direction between East LA and the heart of DTLA and the same between Azusa and DTLA.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Hi Steve,
        Is the physical infrastructure to be built to facilitate a different operating plan in the future, such as from East LA to either downtown or Union Station during Dodger games? This would probably be less important in 2022 but with so many new and extended lines in the works we might expect ridership patterns to change. With such long rides and especially if changes to the A/E lines along Flower are made at a later date I would think it logical to keep options open for running trains from each terminus (Long Beach, Santa Monica, Montclair, and Whittier) to the other three. I have personally experienced very long rides involving several ill-timed transfers, so any eliminated transfer, particularly when headways are 20-25 minutes in the evenings, is *very* welcome.

        • Hi Ian —

          It’s being built as a Y — the track from Azusa and from East LA go straight into the new underground Little Tokyo/Arts District Station. Trains will not be able to run directly between East LA and Azusa. If trains are running frequency, the transfer between the two lines at the new underground station should be quick and only require walking across the platform. The issue is that moving the connection between the East LA and Azusa Lines underground and building it would have been very difficult and expense with more impacts to the community. All in all, my own view is that this will be a big improvement but I hear you: frequent service on both lines will be very important.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

          • Steve,
            Railroad wyes can be configured a lot of ways. Just saying that it’s shaped like one isn’t helping paint us a picture. Saying “there is no way for trains to continue from East LA to Azusa without first entering the tunnel” implies limitations and is thus a negative framing, but it’s how the thing was apparently designed, voted, and built. Maintaining current Gold Line service patterns was never an intention of the project, so why all the charade to make it seem that there are alternatives that don’t exist? What if everyone who showed up to the board meeting to discuss final service routing demanded the current Gold Line route be maintained? (ala the Green / Crenshaw line?) Would staff have to come back saying “that’s not possible structurally or technically”?

          • Hi Rosa;

            I agree wyes can be built a lot of different ways. I’m just trying to explain how this one was built and be clear about it.

            Steve Hymon
            Editor, The Source

  6. What I’m reading here is this is the end of through-running L Line service, and that the thing is finally scheduled for opening 22 months after the closure (so December 2022), so there’s not an “L Line” any more? Can’t rebranding the branches to A and E and operating service patterns closer to those in the tunnel start earlier?

    So what’s the wye look like in the Arts District? does it actually connect the two former leg without having to reverse at the first underground station?

    • Hi Vanessa —

      It’s the shape of a Y — the three legs being trains from East LA, trains from Pasadena and trains from DTLA. That means that trains won’t run directly between Azusa and East LA under the staff recommended operating plan. To make that trip you would ride to Little Tokyo/Arts District Station and then walk a few feet across the platform to another train. We think this will better serve the many riders who want to travel directly into DTLA from East LA or Azusa.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. Need to get the Regional Connector operational by July 2022-So that it is open just in time for AnimeExpo 2022!

  8. you know I wish that the gold line would keep going from East LA to the Foothills before the regional connector, but then when regional connector opens, I’m going to miss the light rail route running from East LA to the Foothills via Downtown LA.

    so does that mean there’s L line gold service at Little Tokyo until October followed by a 22 month closure with shuttle buses serving the affected stations and then after the 22 months, the regional connector can be used is that correct or just doing the L line gold service until the regional connector?

    Secondly, if the regional connector didn’t happen, I would prefer keeping the current gold line segment running from East LA to the foothills and then extend the Blue and Expo lines to Little Tokyo/Arts District Station as a new terminus and make it a transfer station connecting with the gold line.

    And also I made a comment on another article about the board of directors August meeting regarding about the emailed comment on why my name and my comment are not read for the record during the meeting and you told me that you’re going to find out what happened whether my public testimony was received or not. And I just want to know whether you did or not asked either the clerk or the board secretary on why my name and my comment that I sent via email was not read for the record during the meeting. If you did, then what did the clerk or the board secretary respond?

    Please answer back to me on my questions that I typed on as soon as possible.
    Thank you

    • Bill, as currently constructed the busiest station on the Gold Line is Union Station as riders disembark at Union Station for a transfer to the Red Line, in order to complete their travel to the job and cultural/entertainment centers in Downtown Los Angeles or points further west. The new post-2022 layout allows: a) for passengers headed for destinations in the core of Downtown Los Angeles, a one-seat ride to their destination; b) for passengers headed to other points west, an easier one-level direct connection to the Red and Purple Lines at 7th Street-Metro Center; c) for East LA branch passengers, a one-seat ride to certain additional job and cultural centers on the westside (Culver City, West LA, Santa Monica) and near USC; and d) for Pasadena/Azusa branch passengers, an easy same-platform transfer to the E Line to reach those same westside/USC job-cultural destinations. It is for these reasons that Metro wants to through-run the Gold Line branches through downtown on the Regional Connector.

  9. Glad to know the project is finally entering this phase!

    Suggestion: Also close Pico/Aliso Station, and make the shuttle buses to run between Union Station and Mariachi Plaza Station.

    Considering the streets layout, it would be safer and easier for the passengers (and the buses would also be easier to maneuver) in Mariachi Plaza Station than in Pico/Aliso Station.

  10. After the project opens, please add an insert box for DTLA. The map is looking a bit messy.

  11. Can Metro consider placing a temporary bike share station at Pico/Aliso Station? 12 minutes is a long time to wait especially if shuttles aren’t timed with the gold line and connections are missed.