Photos: The Expo Line To Santa Monica Is Now Open

Metro officially opened its Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica at twelve o'clock noon on Friday. This means that, for the first time in more than 60 years, there is now regular rail service throughout Los Angeles' Westside.

Best of all, Metro is offering free rides on the rail line from 12 p.m. on Friday until the end of service, as well as all day on Saturday. Trips between downtown L.A. and downtown Santa Monica (and vice-versa) will take just 48 minutes, crossing through Exposition Park, Jefferson Park, West Adams, Culver City, Century City and West L.A. on the way.

This is a pretty momentous day for Los Angeles as a whole. At this morning's opening ceremony, elected officials and other VIP style folks turned out by the hundreds to celebrate the rail line's completion and opening to the general public. As L.A. County Supervisor Shelia Kuehl bubbly exclaimed, the line represents the rebirth of a comprehensive public transportation system in Los Angeles.

"We used to have one of the most comprehensive transit systems in the world," Kuehl said. "This new line shows how well along our way we are on building one again."

The Phase II extension completes the Expo Line's full 15.2 mile route between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Though Phase I of the Expo Line opened back in 2012 with twelve stations along a route between downtown L.A. and Culver City, the Phase II extension adds seven more stations along 6.6 miles of track between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica.

The new stations are named as such: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Expo/Sepulveda, Expo/Bundy, 26th St/Bergamot, 17th St/SMC, Downtown Santa Monica.

To celebrate the line's opening, Santa Monica will be hosting a street festival on June 5, dubbed Santa Monica Coast. The event will open several streets in downtown Santa Monica exclusively for pedestrians, cyclists, and other human powered transportation.

Coincidentally, Expo Phase II is the second 'Measure R' project to open this year, following the Gold Line's extension to Azuza earlier this year. Measure R is a voter-approved half-cent sales-tax increase passed L.A. County voters back in 2008.

Metro has a similar ballot measure—dubbed Measure R II—in the process for the upcoming November 2016 election. To help fund Metro's $120 billion plan to develop public transportation, Measure R II would bump sales-tax up another half-cent.

With the Expo Line's opening, Los Angeles County now hosts 105 miles of rail transportation. That number, however, will continue to grow as the projects like the Crenshaw Line, Purple Line, the Regional Connector, the Sepulveda Pass corridor project, the Van Nuys Boulevard project, and others all mature and are completed.