The Regional Connector and three new downtown L.A. stations to open Friday, June 16, with a weekend of free rides!

View from the front of the train of the new light rail tunnel under downtown L.A.

The ‘High Prismatic’ artwork by Pearl C. Hsiung at Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill Station.

Metro announced today it will officially open the Regional Connector transit project to the public on June 16.

The ambitious, complex project, which began in 2013, is unique among rail projects in the United States. The 1.9 miles of new track laid for the project will allow light rail trains to travel between Union Station and the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown’s Financial District. Before the Regional Connector, that’s a journey only Metro’s heavy rail lines could make. Bridging this gap allows Metro to merge the hook-shaped L (Gold) line with the A (Blue) and E (Expo) lines, creating two serpent-like train lines where there were once three. The Regional Connector includes three new underground stations:

•Little Tokyo/Arts District Station where riders will have easy access to historically rich and vibrant neighborhoods and cultural institutions.

•Historic Broadway Station features two nationally registered districts: the Broadway Theater District, with 12 original theaters within seven blocks and Old Spring Street, known as the original Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles.

•Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station connects riders to downtown’s performing arts institutions, museums, fine dining experiences and more.

These new stations will transform the way many riders can experience the Metro system, provide riders a seamless, one-seat journey from as far as Azusa to Long Beach and from East L.A. to Santa Monica with no transfers required.

Metro Board Members on Monday’s preview ride included 1st Vice Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Paul Krekorian, Katy Yaroslavsky, Chair Ara Najarian, Hilda Solis and Fernando Dutra.

“We can finally celebrate! It’s hard to believe that what started out a decade ago with just drawings on a map is now a reality for Los Angeles County residents,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “Angelenos can now easily travel across L.A. County and readily reach more Downtown L.A. locations via Metro Rail.”

To mark this historic milestone, Metro will provide free rides on the entire Metro transit system including Metro bus and rail lines as well as Metro Bike Share services, during opening weekend. Metro encourages Angelenos and visitors alike to rediscover downtown and explore the fun, food, shopping, and cultural landmarks now accessible via the three stations on Regional Connector line and beyond.

“For the first time since the Blue Line opened in 1990, it will now offer a single-seat ride from Long Beach to Union Station,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Janice Hahn. “The Regional Connector will mean that jobs and education opportunities, which used to require 2-3 transfers for residents in my district, will now be just one train ride away.”

The completion of the Regional Connector project improves connections by bringing together the Metro L (Gold), A (Blue), E (Expo), B (Red) and D (Purple) lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station. The new A and E lines will share five downtown Los Angeles stations giving travelers plenty of transfer options along the way. Some customers riding to and through downtown Los Angeles could save up to 20 minutes by eliminating the need to transfer. Metro will launch the Regional Connector with the existing 10-minute peak and 12-minute midday and weekend service frequencies for the A and E lines.

“The Regional Connector brings Los Angeles closer to having the world-class transportation system that Angelenos deserve,” said Metro Board Member and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass. “With this opening, traveling across the region can be easier and more accessible all while Metro works to make the experience safer, cleaner and more welcoming for todays and future riders. I commend the many community partners, elected leaders and project staff who have made this highly anticipated project a reality. Moving forward, I will continue to work closely with my colleagues on the Metro Board of Directors and with local leaders across the County to make sure that our transportation system works for everyone.”

Riders will have the opportunity to visit cultural events and venues in downtown Los Angeles, public parks, and other major attractions. The Regional Connector will offer easier access to medical facilities and jobs, and commerce centers throughout the city. Many of the key destinations are within walking distance of the new underground stations including the Japanese American National Museum, Million Dollar Theater, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles to name a few.

“Communities across the County will now have more seamless transit options because the Regional Connector has knit our rail system together,” said L.A. County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, representing the First District. “Transit riders who used to worry about making one or more transfers can now sit back and enjoy a one-seat ride to enjoy tacos in East L.A., sushi in Little Tokyo, and to the many more culinary, cultural, and educational experiences our region has to offer.”

As with previous construction projects, the Regional Connector line was designed and built with the help of community input and local voices. In addition, this project benefited from Metro’s Board approved small business mitigation programs: the Business Interruption Fund and Eat Shop Play which helped support small businesses in the areas along this project during construction. The Business Interruption Fund provided support for businesses around the Little Tokyo/Arts District and History Broadway stations- $3.3 million was awarded to 56 small “mom and pop” shops and the Eat Shop Play program provided free marketing assistance to 102 businesses along the Regional Connector line.

“People are going to love the newfound connectivity available through the Regional Connector,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “We have built a beautiful, useful, and state-of-the-art rail transit project that everyone in L.A. County will be able to use to get to their favorite destinations. I for one am looking forward to seeing all the families that will use the Regional Connector to get to the beach, rediscover downtown, or go museum hopping with their friends. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to get us to opening day. I can’t wait to welcome everyone aboard!”

Metro contracted with Regional Connector Constructors (RCC), a joint venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Traylor Brothers, Inc., to design and build the $1.8 billion Regional Connector. Metro’s contractor has been able to achieve one of the best safety records of all Metro construction projects, with more than 7.7 million hours worked without any lost time due to injury or incident. This is a testament to all the dedicated men and women working on this project representing one of the best safety records in the construction field.

Metro also implemented a Project Labor Agreement and Construction Careers Policy to encourage construction employment and training opportunities during the Regional Connector project. More than 10 percent of construction workers hired by Metro’s prime contractors on the Regional Connector project were from economically disadvantaged areas and 20 percent were hired as apprentices to start their careers in construction. PLA/CCP workers included 66 percent who were Latino, five percent African American and four percent female.

For additional information about the Regional Connector, please visit metro.net/regionalconnector. Here’s a tweet thread from earlier today with more pics and a handy map to show how the light rail system will work when the Connector opens.

Additional Quotes

“The 1.9-mile Metro rail extension is a great asset to our constituents in the Eastside of Los Angeles. Many more people will now have the ability to travel across L.A. County to get to work and explore the city using public transportation, which will save them money in their pocketbooks, ease traffic congestion, and decrease our carbon footprint,” said Congressman Jimmy Gomez (Calif.).

“The Regional Connector is going to help Angelenos, and visitors alike enjoy everything our region has to offer—without having to sit in traffic,” Senator Alex Padilla said. “This project will make transit easier for everyone, increasing the connectivity of existing Metro lines and decreasing the need to transfer. I am proud to have supported this project—a regional priority that was made possible with federal funding.”

“It’s important that all Los Angeles County residents have easy access to transportation that gets them where they need to be and to places beyond their familiar surroundings. Ensuring that funds are readily available to complete a major project like the Regional Connector illustrates how important California’s focus is on regional equity” said Senator Maria Elena Durazo. “If we are to remain serious about climate mitigation, improving mobility, and raising the quality of life for all Californians, then we must ensure that these investments continue to be a priority.”

Categories: Projects

13 replies

  1. This is great news. The system is beginning to be a real network, rather than a few lines poking into DTLA. When the Crenshaw line ties the D to the E to the C it will really start getting even more functional.

  2. More stations for riders to feel unsafe. 2 years behind schedule and $350MILLION over budget. Why does Metro keep failing riders?

  3. It took NINE years to build a 1.9-mile connector and was $335 over budget. Where’s the apology to the taxpayers?

  4. Wow!!!! Very excited to try it out and after the opening, it will mark the end of 20 years of the L Line(Gold) service when it began on July 26, 2003 running between Union Station and Sierra Madre Villa Station, on November 15, 2009 the line extended from Union Station to Atlantic as part of the Eastside extension, and on March 5, 2016 the line extended from Sierra Madre Villa Station to APU/Citrus College as part of Foothill extension phase 2A. It will also mark the end of 23 years of running the A line(Blue) service between LA and Long Beach(which opened on July 14, 1990) as well as 11 years of the E Line(Expo) service using the aqua color. The E Line opened on April 28, 2012 running between LA and Culver City and on May 20, 2016, the line extended from Culver City to Santa Monica.

  5. So many busses putter around DTLA so that their routes connect with the rail system.
    How will the bus maps change now that the rail network is much more efficient and there are two entirely new entry points? Which routes will be adjusted to intersect the new stations, and what’s been made redundant?

    Here’s hoping whatever slack Metro can find in the bus routes is reinvested into more improved headways.

    • The only REAL service duplication I see in Downtown are Line 30, Silver Streak, Commuter Express buses (all agencies), and the Silver Line. Outside of that, ain’t no one gonna be happy if almost all lines are curtailed to 7th/Metro and Union Station on both ends. But I believe there are service changes that will go into effect around the same weekend.

      Still, I cannot recall Metro stating that they would add/remove/change routes of service as a result of this. I’m gonna assume they will probably take a wait and see approach.

    • Schedules will be posted in time for the 2028 Olympics. That’s Metro’s sense of urgency when providing basic services.

  6. One upside I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that this should reduce the rush hour crowding at 7th St due to transfers. That’ll take some of the stress out of commuting.

    • Or increase it depending on where you’re going.

      It is possible, for example. Say some people are aware that they won’t make their Red/Purple Line transfer in time, but choose to take the risk by simply going to 7th/Metro instead and vice versa. That’s the one key point to consider. If I want to go to bunker hill or little Tokyo and coming from NoHo or Koreatown/Beverly Hills, in this case, people are more than likely to transfer at 7th/Metro than to backpedal from Union Station.

      That is something I noticed that isn’t considered.

  7. I remember riding the Blue Line to 7th/Metro station in 1989. I could see the taped over signs that said “Pasadena”.

    It has been a while, but I am glad it finally happened.

  8. It’ll be useful during lunch breaks. As much as I don’t like the state of the system (and most definitely the agency operating it) I’m genuinely happy to FINALLY see this opening up. As of now I had to use Electric Scooters because they were actually faster to get from Little Tokyo to 7th/Metro than using the system, which can easily make the trip 30 min even though it’s all within the Downtown area. Now it’ll only take 7 min.

    That and now we have 2 value transfers point in the same area. *sigh* you’ll get there someday I suppose.

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