Free rides across the Metro system this weekend to celebrate the debut of the new A and E Lines, 3 new stations and the opening of the Regional Connector

Our new A and E light rail lines make their debut this Friday, June 16, at noon when the Regional Connector and its three new underground stations in downtown Los Angeles open to our riders.

The opening will make riding our system more convenient and will provide you with faster light rail trips to and through downtown L.A.

As part of our celebration of this milestone project, we’re offering free rides from 3 a.m. Friday through 3 a.m. Monday on all Metro buses, trains, Metro Bike and Metro Micro. Please come out and ride as much as you like and enjoy the many destinations you can reach via Metro across L.A. County.

As many of you know, the Regional Connector is a highly anticipated project that has been under construction for much of the last decade. We know many of you have questions. Let’s go…

What will the new light rail system look like?

The Connector ties together the A, E and L Lines. As a result, those three lines will become two lines:

•The new A Line will run between Azusa and Long Beach. On maps, the A Line will retain the color blue.

•The new E Line will run between East Los Angeles and Santa Monica. On maps, the E Line will use the color gold.

•It will be easy to transfer between the A and E Lines at any of the five DTLA stations they’ll share: Pico, 7th/Metro, Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill (at 2nd and Hope), Historic Broadway (at 2nd and Broadway) and Little Tokyo/Arts District (at 1st and Alameda). Just step off one train and get on the next. No need to walk to a different platform.

How frequent will trains run?

Here’s the new A Line schedule and here’s the new E Line schedule.

The basics: trains on both lines will run every 10 minutes at weekday peak hours, every 12 minutes the rest of the day and during weekend daytime hours and every 20 minutes in early mornings and later in the evenings.

How will this change my commute?

Riders coming from Azusa and East L.A. will no longer have to transfer to the subway at Union Station to reach the heart of DTLA. Say goodbye to that time munch of a transfer — you can stay on the A or E Line and now ride directly into the heart of DTLA or through DTLA.

Conversely, riders coming into DTLA on the current A and E Lines no longer need to transfer to the subway at 7th/Metro to reach many DTLA destinations.

Fewer transfers = more time savings. For some riders, we think they’ll save 20 minutes per ride. That is not insignificant and we think giving time back to riders will make taking transit more appealing and useful.

Of course, the B and D Lines aren’t going anywhere — and many of you will continue to find the subway useful to reach your destinations in DTLA or beyond. You can transfer between the A Line and the B/D Lines at 7th/Metro or Union Station and between the E Line and B/D Lines at 7th/Metro.

Do you have a new system map?

Yes! Here it is:

What about fares and transferring — how will that work?

It’s simple. There’s no need to tap your TAP card on a validator if transferring between the A and E Lines. If transferring between any other line to/from the A and E Lines, please tap your card on the validator.

Remember — you get two hours of free transfers with each fare. We’ll also soon be introducing fare capping to make our fares simpler and save money for those who ride frequently. Please see this Source post for more info.

What’s the Regional Connector look like?

During construction, the twin 1.9-mile tunnels and stations have largely been out of public view. Here’s a sneak peek:

Do the stations include public artworks?

Absolutely and on a grand scale. Our Metro Art team commissioned eight artists to create site-specific, integrated artworks for the three new stations. These artworks, we think, are bold and greatly enhance our stations — making them nicer, more thoughtful urban destinations in their own right.

There are also temporary exhibitions at the Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill and Historic Broadway stations as part of the Metro Art Lightbox Exhibition Program.

There’s much more about the artworks on this web page. And here are some previews of what you’ll see when the stations open Friday:

What’s the history of the project?

When the original L Line was being planned back in the 1990s, the idea was for it to begin at 7th/Metro and be a continuation of the A Line. That fell by the wayside due to funding issues and the L Line’s first segment was instead built from Union Station to Pasadena.

The Metro Board of Directors included initial funding for the Connector in the Measure R sales tax ballot measure, which was approved by L.A. County voters in 2008. The project was also made possible by nearly a billion dollars in federal grants and loans, as well as bonds from the state’s high-speed rail project (because the Connector will provide a very useful connection to the bullet train at Union Station).

Fun fact: the Connector was originally envisioned as a street level rail line but was moved underground by popular demand to ensure trains were quick. The project broke ground in Oct. 2014.

Although a shorter project than some of our other recent rail lines, we had to build an entirely new subway under the existing streets and buildings of downtown L.A. A huge part of the work involved moving utilities and shoring up other existing infrastructure — including buildings.

Here are some construction pics:

What’s next?

The Connector is a big achievement for everyone in L.A. County — it was ultimately you, the voters, who pushed this project across the finish line. But we’re hardly done thanks to other funding from Measure R and the subsequent Measure M, the sales tax approved by county voters in 2016.

Also in the hopper are:

•The LAX/Metro Transit Center is a new rail and bus station being built adjacent to LAX. This will be the transfer point between Metro Rail and the LAX people mover that will serve airport terminals. The project is under construction and is forecast to open in late 2024.

•An extension of the A Line from Azusa to Pomona is also under construction and forecast to be done in 2025. A huge benefit of this project is that riders will able to transfer at Pomona between the A Line and Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line that serves the Inland Empire. That will finally allow riders from the IE to easily reach the Foothill Cities via Metro Rail while avoiding the oft-brutal traffic on the 10 and 210 freeways.

•The Purple (D Line) Extension is also under construction between Wilshire/Western Station and Westwood. The nine-mile extension will serve Koreatown, the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood. The project will greatly speed up transit service between the Westside and the rest of our system. No need for us to comment on the Westside’s hideous congestion 🙂

•The first segment of a new light rail line on Van Nuys Boulevard between the G Line in Van Nuys and Pacoima is in the pre-construction phase (the official name is the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project). Another project that’s currently in the planning phase, the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, will run between that project in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside.

There are many other projects in the works, including new bus lanes — as our buses continue to be our workhorses. With the Regional Connector and all these other projects, we’re on the way to building a modern transit network to give everyone in our region — residents and visitors alike — a great alternative to driving.

Enjoy the celebration this weekend. We’re very, very happy to have the opportunity to deliver to you the Regional Connector.

14 replies

  1. Question: Did Metro actually build the station box for a future 5th/Flower station? Asking because there is a section just north of 7th/Metro where the tunnel becomes a square for a brief period before it turns into a regular circular tunnel again.

  2. I’d like to take advantage of the free rides to explore Metrolink for the first time. I live in Orange County and could drive to the southernmost, Long Beach station. What is parking there like? Is there a fee or a time limit? Is any of the parking there covered (under a roof)?

  3. I hope three-car trains will be used at all times, not two. Also, do we expect ridership to dip slightly between Union Station and 7th/Metro on the B/D line? It will be interesting to see ridership stats once they are ready.

  4. The Gold Line extension to Whittier, we are still waiting on that project.

    • Wasn’t Whittier deadset against having the Gold Line Extend to their city?

  5. Cue the comments regarding how metro should refund 30 day pass users even though that pass is already heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

  6. For this weekend are there any special events or festivities planned by Metro?

    • Hi Thomas —

      No special events but there are the free rides, Dodger Stadium Express service to Dodgers-Giants games and CicLAvia on Sunday, which is easy to reach from E Line’s Expo/Vermont or Expo Park/USC Stations.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. This is really great and convenient for us working at bunker hill. I just wish metro would do something to prevent street people using the train. I myself have encountered many incidents like screaming, cursing, smoking pot and scarring people inside the train. I’m hoping maybe adding more police officers to provide more security for the commuters.

  8. Are these tunnels the same size/height as the existing B/D tunnels? How did the overhead catenary fit? This is unique in that you have light rail in a subway tunnel.

    • Not unique at all, might light rail systems have sections where Light Rail operates as Subway. Plus the Gold Line has Twin tunnels in Boyle Heights as well.

  9. Will there be any commemorative/collectible items given way on opening day like there was at the K line opening?