The Expo Line To Santa Monica Is One Step Closer To Opening
Friday brought some significant proof of the Expo Line’s march of progress towards completion, as the Expo Construction Authority officially handed control of the Phase II Track to L.A. County Metro.
This means Metro is now able to start what’s called “pre-revenue service,” essentially running trains on a regular schedule looking for any potential problems in the train’s sequencing.
Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O'Connor explained her delight to Santa Monica Next following the announcement:
Today is a major milestone and another step closer to the day when Expo Light Rail will begin its job of providing reliable rail service between Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles and to the region’s growing rail network.
Metro doesn’t have full control over everything the Construction Authority built yet, however. The agency is waiting for the builders to hand over control of a maintenance facility on the Westside that will be used to keep the trains in good working order. At present, all the Expo Line’s trains are maintained at the same facility as the Blue Line's trains in Long Beach. Once that second handover occurs, Metro promises to deliver a firm opening date for the train. When the rail line is running, Angelenos can expect consistent service between Downtown Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles in just 46 minutes, even during rush hour.
While we still aren’t officially sure when the train line will open, Metro has pretty consistently been saying Angelenos can expect their newest rail line to begin service in late-spring, sometime probably in May.
Of course, adding more track means Metro has to add more trains to their fleet to make-up for the line’s extra space. Unfortunately Metro expects there will be a shortage of rail stock right when the line opens. For a while, Metro wasn’t sure whether or not they would delay the opening the line until the shortage was bridged.
But it appears now the agency plans to open the line as soon as possible, with longer gaps of time between trains. Metro says Expo trains will service the Downtown to Santa Monica route every 12-minutes during rush hour, and every 20 minutes during day/evening hours.
As more rail-cars become available—they’re being built as you read this at a facility in Palmdale—service will eventually increase to every 6 minutes during rush hour, and every 10-20 minutes during the day/evening hours.