The first train pulls into the Expo Line Downtown Santa Monica station during clearance testing.
The first train pulls into the Expo Line Downtown Santa Monica station during clearance testing. (Photos by Jason Islas/Santa Monica Next)

Last week, we reported that Metro was testing Expo trains between Centinela and as far west as 17th Street. Today, Expo hit another milestone — and made L.A. transportation history — when the first train pulled into the western terminus at 4th Street and Colorado.

The train, which was towed from 17th Street, was the first to pull into the new Downtown Santa Monica station on the line that’s been under construction since 2006. It was also the first passenger train to run through the streets of Downtown Santa Monica in more than half a century.

On its way west to 4th Street, the Expo test train passed in front of Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus depot. The municipal transit agency is planning the one of the most comprehensive service realignments in its history to better connect with the Expo line.
On its way west to 4th Street, the Expo test train passed in front of Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus depot. The municipal bus agency is planning one of the most comprehensive service realignments in its history to better connect with the Expo line.

The first phase of the Expo line began operating between Culver City and Downtown Los Angeles in 2012, and officials estimate Phase II, completing the route to Downtown Santa Monica, will open to passengers in the first half of 2016.

Clearance testing is the first step before Expo trains can begin testing on the tracks under their own power, instead of being towed.

Earlier this month, an electric passenger train crossed Centinela Blvd., officially entering Santa Monica. It was the first time the beachside city has seen passenger trains travel its streets since Pacific Electric discontinued the Santa Monica Air Line passenger route in 1953. Freight trains had continued to use the route until March 1988, when it was officially shut down.

The Expo test train rolls past Lincoln Boulevard on its way to 4th Street.
The Expo test train rolls past Lincoln Boulevard on its way to 4th Street.
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Once the Expo line is completed, it will open up a whole new mode of travel, connecting people not only to Downtown Santa Monica, the Pier, the beach, Culver City, and Downtown Los Angeles, but also to institutions like L.A. Trade Tech College, USC, and Santa Monica College. Once the regional connector is finished, Expo will also allow travelers to take a one-seat ride from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles.

Watch Metro’s video of the test train pulling into the station below.