This story first appeared in Streetsblog Los Angeles.
Metro’s new downtown subway opens in just one week! On Friday, June 16, Metro will open three new stations in downtown L.A.: Little Tokyo/Arts District, Historic Broadway, and Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill.
The A (Blue) Line will run all the way from Long Beach to Azusa – 49.5 miles – according to Metro the longest light-rail line in the world.
The E (Expo) Line will run from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles – 22.5 miles.
And the L (Gold) Line will go away. Sort of. The former L Line will still run, but becomes parts of the E and A Lines.
What also goes away is the “Regional Connector.” That’s just the name of the project. There’s no ongoing line, no station, no service that will be called the Regional Connector. In a couple of years, few people will refer to or even remember the connector. In a couple years, Angelenos will instinctively understand the connector’s benefits, and may find it difficult to imagine a time when Metro’s rail wasn’t conveniently tied together.
The $1.8 billion 1.9-mile Regional Connector doesn’t look like all that much on a map, but it will be transformative for the Metro rail network. In and through Central L.A., trips that used to take one or two transfers will take none. See this helpful, unofficial “Regional Connector Explained” slideshow for examples, and see also Metro’s helpful new official Regional Connector webpage for information on lines, stations, and schedules.
Metro has published its new schedules for the A Line and E Line. These go into effect first thing (around 4 a.m.) next Friday. So, pro tip: avoid the crushing crowds of influencers, lookie-loos, elected officials, ambassadors, superheroes, vendors, students on field trips, train nerds, and smiling commuters by catching a free Regional Connector ride before the 10 a.m. opening ceremonies. Metro is offering systemwide free bus and rail rides all weekend, starting at 4 a.m. Friday morning.
Lastly, a brief needs-improvement note on the schedules. Initial operations are every 12 minutes at peak hours and every 20 minutes at off-peak. Recent late night and early morning service cuts remain in place. Those sorts of frequencies are perhaps adequate for now, but don’t quite make for a world class transit system or even an effective US transit system.
Metro has been struggling to restore transit service, overcoming an operator shortage to bring bus and rail service back to pre-pandemic levels – while opening the new K Line and the Regional Connector. So, perhaps the riding public needs to celebrate the great new connectivity for now, and continue to push for the improved frequencies, like the every-8-minutes peak service approved in the Metro budget last month.