My wife and I recently got a chance to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out, it’s pretty darned momentous! For all of you that haven’t turned on the news lately, commuter light rail is now extended across metropolitan Los Angeles to the Pacific on Friday for the first time since the 1950s.
So the grand opening of the widely anticipated Palms Light Rail Station has come and gone and it was a time for celebration with the official ribbon cutting ceremonies. Mayor Garcetti and other city officials were on hand for the event held on National Blvd. between Palms Blvd. and Clarington Ave. from 10- 4 on Saturday. Of course there was music, food trucks, pony rides, face painting, wall climbing…pretty much “The Works.” Free rides for all on the Expo line were offered for free from 10-4.
The opening of the 6.6-mile final leg of the Expo Line now connects seaside Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles and Metro lines stretching as far inland as suburban Azusa, some 40 miles from the coast.
As you can imagine, this milestone fulfills a decades-long dream of public officials and Angelenos. Its true test, however, will be whether it can help our quality of life by removing cars from the road.
Metro Expo Line Phase 2 extension stretches the line from its previous terminus near Venice and Robertson boulevards in Culver City to a station at Colorado Boulevard and Fourth Street in downtown Santa Monica. The extension includes seven new stations, with stops in Palms, West Los Angeles and the area just north of Santa Monica College.
With the extension, which was officially open to the public around noon on Friday (5/20), the Expo Line will stretch from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, ending at the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station at Seventh and Flower Streets. Riders at that station can connect with the Blue, Red and Purple lines to Long Beach, Union Station, North Hollywood or the mid-Wilshire area.
Officials said the ride from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles is expected to take 46-48 minutes and they expect the line to be one of the Metro system’s most popular, far exceeding the anticipated passenger count of 30,000 riders a day.
The extension will also help introduce a new feature for Metro — paid parking. Three stations on the Expo Line Phase 2 extension will have parking lots costing $2 a day as part of a two-year pilot program.
Transit riders with monthly parking permits will have access to select spaces on a first-come, first-served basis from 4 to 9 a.m. on weekdays. After 9 a.m., the permit spaces will be available to the general public. People without permits will pay the $2 daily parking rate, with parking attendants on hand to collect money and ensure motorists have Transit Access Pass cards to use the rail line. When an attendant is not on duty, payments must be made by phone or with a smart phone app that was made available Friday, according to Metro.
Metro officials said payment kiosks will be installed at the lots later this year, and technology is also being installed that will allow riders to check parking availability online.
The new tracks to the sea are the first of their kind since the Pacific Electric Red Cars stopped going there in 1953. Construction of Phase 2, from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica began in 2011. The project cost $1.5-billion and completes a project that has been under construction for a decade and has been in planning since 2003, when the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority was given the authority to plan, design, and construct the line.
Funding was provided by Measure R, the half-cent tax measure approved by voters in 2008. Construction began in early 2006 and most stations opened to the public on April 28, 2012. The Culver City and Farmdale stations opened on June 20, 2012.
Oh and by the way, if this new rail line wasn’t enough, the new Expo Line bike way parallels the route of the light rail line and includes a mixture of bike lanes on Exposition Boulevard and off-street paths alongside the rail tracks.
We paid for it, now…how ’bout we use it!
For more information visit Metro’s website
By Joseph Martinez