A Line (Los Angeles Metro)

The A Line (formerly the Blue Line)[4][5] is a 22.0-mile (35.4 km) light rail line running north–south between Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, passing through Downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, and Long Beach in Los Angeles County. It is one of six lines in the Metro Rail system. Opened in 1990, it is the system's oldest and third-busiest line with an estimated 22.38 million boardings per year as of December 2017. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.[6]

A Line
LACMTA Circle A Line.svg
Other name(s)Blue Line (1990–2019)
Owner Metro (LACMTA)
Line number801
TerminiDowntown Long Beach
7th Street/Metro Center
TypeLight rail
SystemLos Angeles Metro Rail
Rolling stockKinkisharyo P3010 or Siemens P2000 running in 2–3 car consists
Daily ridership63,008 (Oct. 2018; avg. weekday)[1]
Ridership22,383,828 (2017)[1]
OpenedJuly 14, 1990; 31 years ago (July 14, 1990)
Line length22.0 mi (35.4 km)[2]
Number of tracks2
CharacterMostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
(standard gauge)
Electrification750 V DC overhead catenary (overhead rigid rail; tunnel only)[3]
Operating speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Route map

Regional Connector
(under construction)
APU/Citrus College ↓(Current L Line  L Line)
Azusa Downtown
Duarte/City of Hope
Sierra Madre Villa
Memorial Park
Del Mar
South Pasadena
Arroyo Seco High Bridge
Highland Park
Southwest Museum
Heritage Square
Arroyo Seco Low Bridge
Union Station
 B Line D Line J Line ↑(Current L Line  L Line)
Little Tokyo/Arts District
Historic Broadway
Grand Av Arts/Bunker Hill
7th Street/Metro Center
 B Line D Line E Line J Line 
 E Line J Line 
J Line 
San Pedro Street
103rd Street/Watts Towers
Rosa Parks
C Line 
Del Amo
Willow Street
Pacific Coast Highway
Anaheim Street
5th Street
Pacific Avenue
1st Street
Downtown Long Beach
Handicapped/disabled access all stations accessible
Detailed diagram
showing all crossings
 B Line D Line E Line J Line 
7th Street/
Metro Center
↑ Flower Street Tunnel
↓ Flower Street
 E Line J Line 
←↑Flower Street
↓ Washington Boulevard
J Line 
San Pedro
↑ Washington Boulevard
20th Street
24th Street
41st Street
Vernon Avenue
48th Place
55th Street
60th Street
Gage Avenue
Florence Avenue
Nedeau Street
92nd Street
Century Boulevard
103rd Street
103rd Street/Watts Towers
108th Street
Wilmington Avenue
Imperial Highway
C Line 
Willowbrook/Rosa Parks
119th Street
124th Street
El Segundo Boulevard
130th Street
Stockwell Street
Rosecrans Avenue
Elm Street
Compton Boulevard
Myrrh Street
Alondra Boulevard
Greenleaf Boulevard
Artesia Boulevard
Manville Avenue
SR 47 / Alameda Street
Santa Fe Avenue
Del Amo
Del Amo Boulevard
Division 11 yard
Wardlow Road
Spring Street
Willow Street
↓ Long Beach Blvd
Pacific Coast Highway
Anaheim Street
Eighth St ↔
Pacific Avenue
5th Street
Pacific Ave ↑
1st Street
Downtown Long Beach
↔ First Street (Long Beach Transit Mall)

The A Line passes near the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers art installation is visible from the train tracks near 103rd Street station. The under-construction Regional Connector will directly link this line to Union Station and into the San Gabriel Valley along the current route of the L Line.

Service descriptionEdit

Map of the A Line, including the under-construction 2021 Regional Connector extension. Dashed lines indicate Metro routes planned or under construction.

Route descriptionEdit

The A Line runs 22.0 miles (35.4 km) between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach and has 22 stations.[2]

The line's northern terminus is the underground 7th Street/Metro Center station, after rising to street level, trains run south along Flower Street, sharing tracks with the E Line. Passengers can connect to the bus rapid transit J Line at 7th Street/Metro Center, Pico, and Grand stations. The A and E Lines diverge at Flower Street and Washington Boulevard just south of downtown Los Angeles. Here the A Line turns east on Washington Boulevard before turning south into the former Pacific Electric right-of-way at Long Beach Avenue. This historic rail corridor has four tracks, with two for Metro Rail trains and two for freight trains. Along the corridor, there are some elevated sections to either eliminate street crossings in more densely populated areas or pass over diverging freight train tracks. Passengers can connect with the C Line at the Willowbrook station. Just south of Willow station, A Line trains exit the rail corridor, and begin street running in the median of Long Beach Boulevard into the city of Long Beach, where trains travel through the Long Beach Transit Mall while making a loop using 1st Street, Pacific Avenue and 8th Street.

Hours of operationEdit

Trains run between approximately 4:45 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the following morning.[7] On Friday and Saturday evenings, trains are extended until 2:00 a.m. of the following morning. First and last train times are as follows:

To/From Long Beach

  • First Train to 7th Street/Metro Center: 4:46 a.m.
  • Last Train to 7th Street/Metro Center: 12:03 a.m. (2:07 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings)
  • First Train to Long Beach: 5:00 a.m.
  • Last Train to Long Beach: 1:01 a.m. (2:05 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings)

Of note, some trains operate at later or earlier times due to the A Line making the turnaround in Downtown Long Beach.


Trains on the A Line operate every six minutes during peak hours Monday through Friday.[8] They operate every twelve minutes during the daytime weekdays and all day on the weekends after approximately 9 a.m. (with a 15-minute headway early Saturday and Sunday mornings). Night service consists of ten-minute headways.

Originally[when?] during peak hours, every other train served only the stations between Willow and 7th Street/Metro Center to decrease the headway on that portion of the route. Willow was chosen because of its proximity to the storage yard and because it was the last southbound station with a park-and-ride lot. In the evening rush hour, riders saw some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach". Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach had to exit at Willow Station and wait for the next train, which would terminate at the Downtown Long Beach Station. This was discontinued after the New Blue Improvements Project was completed in 2019, with all trains now serving the full route from end to end.[9]


The A Line takes 53 minutes[7] to travel its 22.0 mile (35.4 km) length,[2] at an average speed of 24.9 miles per hour (40.1 km/h) over its length.


When the line began operation in 1990, it was projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000.[10] However, it performed much better than expected, with daily ridership reaching 12,000 passengers within the first months of service and reaching 32,000 by the end of the first year of service.[10]

As of October 2018, the line had an average weekday ridership of 63,008, and Saturday and Sunday boardings of 30,579 and 30,314, respectively.[1] In 2017, the line saw a total of 22.38 million boardings.


Nippon Sharyo P865 train leaving Downtown Long Beach station.

Much of the current A Line follows the route of the Pacific Electric Railway's Long Beach interurban line, which ended service in 1961. The old route gave the new light rail trains a private right-of-way between Washington and Willow Street stations allowing them to reach higher speeds between stops.

The line initially opened as the Blue Line on Saturday, July 14, 1990, at a cost of US$877 million (equivalent to $1.74 billion in 2020 adjusted for inflation),[2] and ran from Pico to Willow. The street running section to Downtown Long Beach opened in September 1990, followed by the tunnel into 7th St/Metro Center in February 1991.

The route was a success, and from 1999 to 2001, the Blue Line underwent an US$11 million project to lengthen 19 of its platforms so that they could accommodate three-car trains.[11] Plans were also made to extend the Blue Line north to Pasadena, but the connection across downtown was deferred, and the northern portion opened as the Gold Line in 2003. Ground was broken for the Regional Connector across downtown in 2014, and is expected to be completed in 2022.

The line was renovated in 2019, with half the line was closed for five months each (10 months in total), with Metro providing bus shuttle service to compensate for the lack of rail service. Metro officially reopened the line on November 2, 2019, rebranding it as the A Line.[4][5][12]

Future developmentsEdit

Regional Connector Transit ProjectEdit

Metro is currently constructing the Regional Connector, a light rail subway tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles that will connect the A and E Lines to the L Line and allow a seamless "one-seat ride" on the A Line to Union Station. When this project is completed, the A, E, and L Lines will be simplified into the following configuration:[13]

  • A Line
    • The northeastern segment of the L Line (north of Little Tokyo/Arts District) will serve as an extension to current A Line
    • The Gold Line Foothill Extension will also be absorbed into the A Line, extending it a further 17.9 miles (28.8 km) to Montclair upon completion
  • E Line
    • The southern portion of the current L Line to East L.A. will be combined with current E Line, which will keep the E Line name but use the gold color on maps

The groundbreaking for the construction of the Regional Connector Transit Corridor took place on September 30, 2014, and it is expected to be in public service in 2022.

Current issuesEdit

Capacity limitsEdit

A Line train arriving at 7th Street Metro Center.

The line often operates at capacity, and various options to increase capacity have been considered, such as four-car trains or more frequent trains. Both have problems: it would be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms, and the number of trains already causes delays for other vehicles at level crossings. Thus it may not be possible to increase A Line ridership without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation, by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway", or by building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the A Line. When the Regional Connector project linking A and E Line tracks with the L Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed, this may result in even more capacity problems, with ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.

Safety at level crossingsEdit

A Metro A Line train heading to Long Beach arrives at Willow Station.

Over 120 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at A Line level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 collisions,[14][15] making the line easily the country's deadliest and most collision-prone rail line.[16]

Train at the Slauson station

In 1998, the MTA commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. to evaluate the cause of Blue Line collisions and recommend affordable solutions. The study reported the high ridership (over 70,000 per day) was a contributor:

The MBL has one of the highest ridership counts for light rail lines in the Country. This factor is perhaps the most important contributor to the grade crossing accident rate. The high ridership results in increased pedestrian traffic near stations as compared to other light rail systems. In addition, although MTA Operations does not allow high passenger loads dictate safe operations, there is pressure to maintain travel times and headway schedule requirements (e.g., passenger trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach in less than one hour).

Other contributing factors identified were the high population density leading to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that creates literacy and language difficulties for public education campaigns, driver frustration due to the slow traffic speeds around the line that leads to more risk taking behavior, and the shared right-of-way with freight traffic in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (89 km/h) between stations.

The collision rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the A Line shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Willowbrook station and Artesia station. The gates prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras along some problem intersections issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates.

Station listingEdit

The following is the complete list of stations, from north to south.

Station Date opened City/Neighborhood Major connections and notes[17][18]
7th Street/Metro Center February 14, 1991 Downtown Los Angeles   B Line,   D Line,   E Line and   J Line
Pico July 14, 1990   E Line and   J Line
Grand/LATTC   J Line
San Pedro Street South Los Angeles
Florence Florence-Graham Park and ride: 116 stalls
103rd Street/Watts Towers Watts Park and ride: 64 stalls
Willowbrook Willowbrook   C Line
Park and ride: 234 stalls
Compton Compton
Artesia Park and ride: 288 stalls
Del Amo Carson Park and ride: 362 stalls
Wardlow Long Beach Park and ride: 139 stalls
Willow Street Park and ride: 927 stalls
Pacific Coast Highway
Anaheim Street
5th Street
(southbound only)
September 1, 1990
1st Street
(southbound only)
Downtown Long Beach
(northbound only)
Pacific Avenue
(northbound only)


On Metro Rail Operations' internal timetables, the A Line is called line 801.

Maintenance facilitiesEdit

The A Line is operated out of the Division 11 Yard (208th Street Yard) located at 4350 East 208th Street. This yard stores the fleet used on the A Line. It is also where heavy maintenance is done on the fleet. The Yard is located between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. Trains get to this yard via a wye junction on the southbound tracks. Northbound trains can enter and exit the yard via the cross tracks on the north and south side of the junction.

Rolling stockEdit

Blue Line train in the 1990s

The A Line uses two different types of rolling stock from Siemens, and Kinkisharyo.

When the Blue Line first opened in 1990, the line had 54 Nippon Sharyo P865 light rail vehicles, numbered 100–153. These cars wore a unique livery consisting of several blue stripes and a single red stripe, reflecting the Blue Line's color designation and its Pacific Electric Red Car heritage.

In 2000, Metro transferred all 15 Nippon Sharyo P2020 (Numbered 154-168) light rail vehicles from the Green Line to the Blue Line fleet. These light rail vehicles were nearly identical to the older P865 model, but were about five years newer and originally had an automated control panel for automatic train operation in each cab.[19]

In 2012, Metro transferred some Siemens P2000 light rail vehicles from the Gold Line to the Blue Line fleet.

In 2017, the Blue Line received 78 Kinkisharyo P3010 light rail vehicles, the first new fleet of vehicles for the line since it opened in 1990. As the P3010 fleet was introduced, Metro gradually retired all of the remaining P865 light rail vehicles, the original vehicles used on the line. In 2021, the final deliveries of the P3010s resulted to the 15 P2020 railcars to also retire as Metro has no more room for the aging vehicles.

A Line vehicles are maintained and stored at the Division 11 yard in Long Beach between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. This facility has capacity for storing and maintaining 86 light rail cars.

By the time of the Regional Connector opening in 2022, it is expected that Division 21 in Elysian Park, and Division 24 in Monrovia will be acquired for A Line service as the A and L lines will merge into one route.


  1. ^ a b c "Interactive Estimated Ridership Stats". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. November 15, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Facts at a Glance". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "Installing new overhead conductor rail in DTLA". Retrieved July 30, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b Fonseca, Ryan (September 25, 2019). "Ignore Those 'Line A' Signs. Metro's Blue Line Will Reopen As The 'A Line'". laist.com. Southern California Public Radio. Archived from the original on September 26, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Light rail to Long Beach will reopen soon — but it won't be called the Blue Line". Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Metro Ridership". isotp.metro.net. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Blue line timetable" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 15, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "Metro Bus & Rail System Map" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  9. ^ https://thesource.metro.net/2019/11/01/full-a-line-blue-line-service-between-dtla-and-long-beach-begins-saturday/
  10. ^ a b Curiel, Socorro C. (1991). "Los Angeles County Transportation Commission Joins SHPE Strategic Technical Employment Program (STEP)". Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Hispanic Engineer. Career Communications Group, Inc. (Fall 1991): 20. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "MTA Starts 3-Car Train Service on Busy Metro Blue Line". www.metro.net. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "A Line". www.metro.net. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  13. ^ "The most anticipated transit projects opening in time for the 2028 LA Olympics". Curbed LA. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Nelson, Laura (March 28, 2015). "Metro light rail crash near USC renews debate on rail safety". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  15. ^ "Summary of Blue Line Train/Vehicle and Train/Pedestrian Accidents". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. June 2007.
  16. ^ "Light rail fatalities, 1990–2002". American Public Transportation Association. May 20, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  17. ^ "Metro A Line (Blue)". www.metro.net. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  18. ^ "Metro Parking Lots by Line". www.metro.net. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

Route map:

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