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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Expo Line Opens! Public Rail Transit keeps Creeping to the Beach

Image from LA Times.  All Rights Reserved.
Celebrations should be ringing throughout Los Angeles, especially the Westside, as this weekend marks the official opening of the first phase of the Expo line.  To help celebrate, rides this weekend are free!  Eventually connecting downtown Los Angeles with downtown Santa Monica, the first phase connects downtown to the expanding Westside community of Culver City, which should continue to fuel the real estate and business renaissance happening in Culver City.  Residents can now commute to USC or downtown without getting into a car or facing a freeway.  With the completion of the second phase, LA will finally have a system that connects to the ocean, opening car-free and low-cost access to the Westside for all of Los Angeles. Oh, and benefiting all of the Westside residents heading east for work - kind of a win win, huh?  More from the LA Times below:
Almost 60 years after the Pacific Electric Railway stopped running trains to Santa Monica, the resurrection of passenger rail service to the Westside will begin with the grand opening of the $930-million Expo light rail line.

Saturday's start of service marks the first step in an effort to bring rail service back to one of the region's most traffic-clogged areas, something transportation experts have long said is crucial to developing a workable rail network for Los Angeles County.

Expo Line trains are scheduled to roll into Culver City by midsummer and Santa Monica within several years, although the segment opening this weekend stops at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards.

Some may not consider that Westside service quite yet, but officials say it's a major milestone nonetheless.

"It's the first time in a half of a century that people will be able to access mass public transit west of Western Avenue," said county Supervisor
Zev Yaroslavsky, a Metro board member. "This is something that many people have been longing for for a long time."

The first phase of the Expo Line, which is nearly two years behind schedule and cost $290 million more than initially estimated, is an 8.6-mile stretch between downtown L.A. and Culver City. A $1.5-billion extension to Santa Monica, ending within walking distance of the beach, is under construction and scheduled to open in four years.

At celebrations starting Friday, the emphasis will be on the benefits the Expo Line will offer to students, commuters, tourists and, possibly, pro football fans who may ride it in coming years.

USC, with three nearby stops, is expected to be a big beneficiary. Thomas Sayles, a university spokesman, called the Expo Line's opening a historic moment for the city and the campus. The service, he said, will expand transportation options for students and allow visitors from all over Los Angeles to reach attractions on campus and at nearby museums.
Undoubtedly there will be critics of the cost of the project, and the delays involved in construction, but the larger success of slowly, but effectively, building a transit infrastructure in LA has to be celebrated.  Ask anyone who lives along the Gold Line or the Eastside of LA, and you can guarantee they appreciate the access transit gives them.  Finally, the Westside joins in the fun.  Hooray for transit!  

You can celebrate and learn more about it below:

Time Lapse Video of Route  (via LA Times)
Photos of Dedication (via Patch Culver City)
Everything Expo Line (via Curbed LA)

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