E (Expo Line) celebrates 10th anniversary of first segment opening!

Time does fly: it was 10 years ago today that the first segment of the E Line — then known only as the Expo Line — opened between 7th/Metro in downtown L.A. and La Cienega/Jefferson Station.

In the time since April 28, 2012, there have been 127 million boardings on the light rail line, which opened to Culver City in June 2012 and then to Santa Monica in 2016.

Much of the line was built atop an old rail line — which dated to 1875 — that was used by Pacific Electric streetcars until 1953 and a few freight trains until 1987. The right-of-way was acquired by Metro, which saw the corridor as a viable way to start building rail transit along the I-10 corridor and to the Westside. The original segment cost $932 million and included 10 new stations and two stations shared with the A (Blue) Line.

Two current Metro Rail projects nearing completion will make the E Line even better. Riders will be able to transfer to the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Line at Expo/Crenshaw Station for rides south and, eventually, to LAX. And Metro’s Regional Connector project will allow E Line trains to continue to the Civic Center, Little Tokyo and Arts District in DTLA and then on to East Los Angeles.

The E Line has proven to be a catalyst for major development in the corridor, including a new transit-oriented development — the Expo/Crenshaw project, a development with L.A. County that will have 400 residential units, including affordable housing, retail, and community space. To better integrate bicycling with transit, Metro included convenient bike parking at all stations and a bike path parallel to the light rail tracks.

A media event was held this morning adjacent to the Expo Park/USC Station — where the line was officially dedicated in 2012. Here’s video of the event, which included the following speakers: Metro Vice Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker; Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Member James Butts; former Santa Monica Mayor and Metro Board Member Pam O’Conner; former CEO of the Expo Line Construction Authority Rick Thorpe; USC Associate Vice President for Community and Local Partnerships David Galaviz; Los Angeles Trade Tech President President Dr. Katrina VanderWoude, and; Metro CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins.

For more information on the E Line, please visit https://www.metro.net/riding/guide/e-line/.

Below are some pics from the archives of the E Line opening, along with construction of the initial segment and the rail service that preceded our light rail line.

An old streetcar map showing the route the E Line would one day take.

The Santa Monica Air Line passes by USC in 1953. Photo by Alan Weeks.

Construction in 2010 of the initial segment south of DTLA — which had a slimmer skyline back then.

A test train in 2012 crosses a congested 110 freeway.

The old right of way down the middle of Exposition Boulevard adjacent to USC and Exposition Park in 2009.

Opening day on the Expo Line at La Cienega/Jefferson Station in 2012.


14 replies

  1. Question: Does this Phase I segment of the Expo Line now have active signal priority at all automobile cross-traffic intersections?

    • Hi Morris;

      Metro and the city of L.A. have worked on this. The train gets more priority than when the first segment opened but there are times the train has to wait for a green light to pass through an intersection.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • The supposed improvements that have been made are basically next to nothing, resulting in runtime improvements in seconds rather than minutes. Its a joke. If LADOT and metro were actually serious about transit priority at intersections, we could expect several minutes to be shaved off the schedule. But there seems be no intent to do that, even a decade later.

  2. Two glaring differences between the Pacific Electric Air Line to Santa Monica and the current Expo Line. The photo of an Air Line P.E. car passing USC is much cleaner and less intrusive. The P.E. Air Line went to the beach, the Expo Line stops short of the beach by several blocks much like the LACTC first foray into light rail where the Blue Line also stops short of reaching the beach although the P.E. along the same right of way was able to accomplish that as well.

    • If I am not mistake, the Santa Monica Air Line was all single track and had very little service when compared to Venice Blvd service.

      Having said that, I wish the Expo Line went a block or two closer to the beach.

      • In hindsight, Expo should’ve bought both Santa Monica Sears properties while planning the line. The Auto Center location (where platforms are now) could’ve been access, parking and transit oriented development. The Art Deco store could’ve been transformed into an amazing terminal with space for food vendors, etc.

        • Back when Phase 2 was in its planning stages, there was a proposal to have the tracks turn left just after 5th and Colorado, terminating in what’s now just a parking lot, with plans to construct a station building next to the tracks. If I recall correctly, Metro wasn’t able to acquire a certain amount of land from the City of Santa Monica that they would’ve needed.

  3. One important detail was left out of the line’s history: in the late 80s, there was a grassroots effort to preserve the right-of-way, led by westside residents, which eventually got Metro to purchase it. It was the group Friends4Expo that finally pushed Metro into building a light rail line.

    Give credit where it’s due.

    • Let’s also point out that Expo got built due to the subway moratorium put in place after the Ross explosion in the 90s. Had Waxman not led the congressional effort to outlaw subway construction through Hancock Park, Expo might have been pushed way down the priority list.

  4. YAY!!! Here’s to another 10 years of poorly built rail lines all for the sake of a political ploy and while new rail lines are actually something to look forward to (outside of that overpriced trolley line on Van Nuys Blvd that you’d believe was an extension of the Expo Line somehow), the Expo Line will only continue to be neglected from this point forward as we all know politicians don’t care about old infrastructure, only new infrastructure.

    • Sometimes I am in awe of how the freeways were built in 1950s and 1960s. They would just rip out whole neighborhoods, level the buildings, start construction, and be done in 5 years, tops. Progress needed to progress.

      We don’t live in that era. We live in an era were we do care about what might destroyed along the way. Do care about how much the nearby neighborhoods will be impacted. We do care that the trains will be near elementary schools. Maybe we care too much. Maybe too many concerns have to be addressed.

      If I had the choice, I would still want to live in today’s environment. I think I would have been horrified by the I-10 construction on the west side. I know I am pleased with how the Expo line was built.

      • Hi James;

        Agree, although I think many of us would like to see the planning process happen more quickly — and there have been some bills in recent years to remedy that to some degree. FWIW, I was up in the Metro Library years ago and saw an old “environmental impact report” for a freeway project. It was very, very short — basically along the lines of “here’s what we’re going to do, end of discussion.” It’s very hard to look at today’s freeway system and think “this is exactly how it should have been built.”

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

  5. I was there! My wife and I rode free (along with 1000s of others) Went to the end of the line then enjoyed Exposition Park before returning to Orange Co. I came because I’m a big fan of all that Metro in expanding. Looking forward to riding Crenshaw Line next AND the Regional Connector.