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History of Los Angeles Metro Rail and Busway


Pacific Electric operated the largest tram system in the world in 1920's Los Angeles

In the first half of the 20th century, Southern California had an extensive privately owned rail transit network with over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of track – operated by Pacific Electric (Red Cars) and Los Angeles Railway (Yellow Cars). However, from 1927 revenue shortfall caused Pacific Electric to begin replacing lightly used rail lines with buses.

During World War II, the system briefly returned to profitability due to gasoline rationing and troop movement, but after the war Pacific Electric once again maintained an operating deficit, and the rail system was slowly dismantled in what became known as the Great American streetcar scandal. In 1958, the remnants of the privately owned rail and bus systems were consolidated into a government agency known as the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority or MTA.

The removal of the system continued, and by 1963 the remaining rail lines had been completely removed and replaced with bus service. In the following decades, growing traffic congestion led to increased public support for the return of rail transit.

Early planningEdit

Beginning in the 1970s, a variety of factors, including environmental concerns, an increasing population and the price of gasoline led to calls for mass transit other than buses. In 1976, the State of California formed the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission to coordinate the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD)'s efforts with the area's municipal transit systems and take over planning of countywide transportation systems. The SCRTD planned for a heavy rail subway, while the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC) developed plans for a light rail system.

Proposition A ballot
Rail system map included in the official Proposition A election pamphlet

In 1980 voters passed Proposition A, a half-cent sales tax for a regional transit system. The measure succeeded after proposals in 1968 and 1974 had failed. The map that accompanied the initiative showed ten transit corridors [1] with the Wilshire subway line the "cornerstone" of the system, according to former SCRTD planning director Gary Spivak. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn was the author of the proposition, declaring, "I'm going to put the trains back."[2]

1985-1990: Construction beginsEdit

The initial plan for the RTD's heavy rail subway settled on a route that would travel west from Downtown Los Angeles along Wilshire Blvd. to Fairfax Avenue, then turn north along Fairfax to the San Fernando Valley. Construction began on the Los Angeles County Metro Rail system in 1985. But that year, a methane explosion destroyed a Ross Dress for Less clothing store near Fairfax and Third Street, and while the disaster was unrelated to subway construction, Congressman Henry Waxman worked to legally designate a large part of Mid-Wilshire as a "methane zone".[3] This zone stretched on either side of Wilshire Boulevard from Hancock Park to west of Fairfax (through areas of his district where subway opposition was strongest).

Congress passed the ban in 1986, but due in part to last-minute lobbying by RTD president Nick Patsaouras, compromise was reached between Waxman and Representative Julian Dixon. The deal allowed funding to go through as long as it did not fund construction that passed through the Wilshire corridor. With a Wilshire corridor alignment prohibited, a new route was chosen north up Vermont, the next-highest projected ridership corridor, to Hollywood. The compromise allowed a one-mile (1.6 km) stub on Wilshire between Vermont and Western.[4][5]

The route north from Vermont Avenue was originally proposed to be elevated, and would have required the purchase and demolition of one or more of the hospitals located near the corner of Vermont and Sunset Boulevard, in order for trains to make the turn west onto Sunset continuing on elevated tracks, a major impact upon the community. In addition, the owners of TV and radio stations, and recording studios, further west along Sunset (at that time KTLA, KTTV and KCBS were among several broadcast and post-production facilities and music recording studios located along the stretch of Sunset Boulevarde) proposed as the route. They strongly protested, claiming that the vibrations and noise from passing trains would interfere with their sensitive microphones and recording equipment. The SCRTD later proposed to put trains underground along Sunset to mollify the media owners' concerns, but those same business interests strongly maintained that even underground trains would create sufficient vibrations to negatively impact their facilities, and vowed to file suit to prevent any rail line along their stretch of Sunset Boulevarde.

By then, new rounds of Federal money were available, and then-SCRTD CEO, Allen Pegg, announced that the transit agency was very confident that sufficient funding for an entirely underground line, now proposed to travel under Hollywood Boulevard to avoid conflicts with the studios on Sunset, could be secured. The line would then turn north along Highland Avenue to Universal City and North Hollywood. A stop at Hollywood Bowl was determined not to have enough year-round ridership to meet FTA formulas for Federal funding, just one of the reasons for not building a station there. The FTA approved the all-subway route, turning from Vermont onto Hollywood Boulevard and then subsequently under the Cahuenga Pass towards North Hollywood, and funding was broken into two phases in order to spread the cost over time, making it more likely to be approved by Federal Congress.

Building awareness of the new Metro Red Line required a massive public relations and advertising campaign. Several agencies were awarded contracts to supply information, create signage and billboards, and produce radio, newspaper and television advertising. Coronado Communications, in alliance with sub-contractor Pangea Corporation, worked out a creative strategy to communicate to the Latino, Korean and Chinese communities. Under the direction of Coronado Communications' Fernando Oaxaca[6] and Pangea's Cheryl Ann Wong, the campaign reached the target audience months before the Metro opened by utilizing traditional media and hosting special minority community events.

Meanwhile, two intersecting light rail lines were also under construction: One largely along disused north-south Pacific Electric right-of-way through South Los Angeles, and, beginning in 1987, another built in conjunction with the new east-west Century Freeway. The freeway had been planned -- and fiercely opposed -- for more than a decade. As part of the consent decree signed by Caltrans in 1972 to allow construction, provisions were made for a transit corridor (without designating the type) in the freeway's median. In the original Metro Rail master plan of the early 1980s, this corridor was designated as a light rail line. Though Mayor Tom Bradley and other politicians intended this east-west line to be fully automated, the technology was not fully implemented, and the two light rail lines ended up sharing common rolling stock. [7]

In 1988, the SCRTD and the LACTC formed a third entity under which all rail construction would be consolidated.

1990-91: The Blue LineEdit

While the subway was a highly anticipated project, the LACTC's light rail Blue Line became the first local rail transit line in Los Angeles since the closure of the Pacific Electric when it opened on July 14, 1990, running largely along an abandoned Pacific Electric right-of-way. The initial light rail segment cost US$877 million.[8] Design and construction was managed by the Rail Construction Corporation, now a subsidiary of Metro[9].

The initial segment was entirely at grade, running between Pico station in the South Park section of southwest Downtown Los Angeles and Anaheim Street station in Long Beach. A loop through downtown Long Beach opened on September 1, 1990, and short extension northward from Pico to 7th Street/Metro Center in the Financial District opened on February 15, 1991. The latter included the system's first underground station, and provided for a transfer to the under construction heavy rail subway.

1993: The Red Line opensEdit

In 1993, the SCRTD and the LACTC were finally merged into the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), now branded as Metro. That year, the new agency finally opened its underground subway, dubbed the Red Line. The first segment was designated MOS-1, consisted of five stations from Union Station to Westlake/MacArthur Park, and opened on January 30, 1993.[10]

1995: The Green Line opensEdit

The line along I-105, designated the Green Line, began service in 1995 at the cost $718 million. One of its purposes when plans for it were drawn up in the 1980s was to serve the aerospace and defense industries in the El Segundo area. But by 1995, the Cold War was over, and the aerospace sector was hemorrhaging jobs. Furthermore, during the 1980s, the bedroom communities in the Gateway Cities region of southeastern Los Angeles County were rapidly losing their population of middle-class aerospace workers (primarily whites and blacks), a process that radically accelerated in the early 1990s. The working-class and poor Hispanics who filled the vacuum generally had no connection to the aerospace sector. This rationale for Green Line construction was a principal argument cited by the Bus Riders Union when it contended that the MTA was focusing its efforts on serving middle-class whites and not working-class minorities. As a result, ridership has been below projected estimates.

The Green Line's western alignment was originally planned and partially constructed to connect with LAX, but the airport was planning a major renovation during the line's construction. Los Angeles World Airports wanted the connection to LAX to be integrated with this construction, but there were concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration that the overhead lines of the rail line would interfere with the landing paths of airplanes.[11] In addition, citizens of neighboring communities to LAX opposed the expansion of the airport.[citation needed] Taxi and limousine drivers and owners of parking lots surrounding LAX feared that a train operating to LAX would create competition,[citation needed] as there is ample free parking at numerous points along the Green Line. As a compromise, a free shuttle from Aviation/LAX Station transports riders to LAX terminals. Today, passengers on the Green Line can see the provision for the LAX extension—two concrete ramp stubs west of the Aviation/LAX station. These stubs are now being put into service as part of the Crenshaw Line.

1996-2000: The Red Line is completedEdit

As construction on the Red Line subway continued in 1995, a sinkhole appeared on Hollywood Boulevard, barely missing several workers and causing damage to buildings on the street. Subway construction was halted until the situation could be resolved. The contractor, Shea-Kiewit-Kenny, was replaced with a new contractor, Tutor Saliba.[12]

MOS-2 opened in two segments. Three new stations between Westlake/MacArthur Park and Wilshire/Western opened in 1996,[13]; and five new stations from Wilshire/Vermont to Hollywood/Vine opened in 1999.[14] At this point the Red Line operated in two branches, with shared service between MacArthur Park and Union Station; the branch to Wilshire/Western was eventually designated the Purple Line in 2006.

In 1998, in part in response to the perceived mismanagement of Red Line construction, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky sponsored Los Angeles County Proposition A, the MTA Reform and Accountability Act of 1998, to ban the use of Los Angeles County revenue from existing sales taxes for subway tunneling, which voters approved. Yaroslavsky stated that local money could be used to cover subway-related costs, as long as it was not used directly for tunneling.[15]

MOS-3, which added new stations and extended the Red Line from Hollywood/Vine to its current terminus at North Hollywood, opened in 2000.[16] Litigation over an illegally awarded contract to build the Hollywood/Highland station and tunnels took more time to resolve than the actual construction.[17]

During construction, 2,000 fossils were discovered, including 64 extinct species of fish, the tusk of an Ice Age elephant and the bones of an ancient longhorn bison, a report funded by the MTA found. The report was authored by paleontologist Bruce Lander of Paleo Environmental Associates in Irvine. Lander worked with a team of 28 scientists during construction of the Metro Rail Red Line. Fossil evidence showed that tens of thousands of years ago, ground sloths, horses, elephants and camels roamed among redwood trees in what is now Los Angeles, according to an MTA summary of the 300-page report. The scientists also found evidence of a great flood in the San Fernando Valley 9,000 years ago that swept away trees. Among the 64 extinct species of marine fish 39 had never before been discovered, the report said. The scientists found bones of an American mastodon, a western camel and a Harlan's ground sloth. They found wood and pollen of land plants including incense cedar and coast redwood trees, and bones of birds, shrews, cottontail rabbits, gophers, mice and kangaroo rats. Some of the fossils are as much as 16.5 million years old.[18]

During construction there were allegations of corruption and safety issues, including cost overruns and tunnel walls having thicknesses less than specified or required by law.[19]

Even relatively early, ridership began to outpace original plans for the system: the Blue Line was originally operated by two-car trains, but proved more popular than expected and 19 platforms were lengthened to accommodate three-car trains in 2002-2003 at a cost of US$11 million.[citation needed]

2003: The Gold Line opens to PasadenaEdit

Meanwhile, plans had been underway for some time for rail transit connecting Downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley.[20] The initial route largely followed the former right-of-way of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (the Pasadena Subdivision)[21], along which inter-city passenger trains like the Southwest Chief and the Desert Wind had operated until Amtrak service was re-routed along the Southern Transcon to San Bernardino via Fullerton in the early 1990s.[22]

Initial plans were to tunnel the Blue Line north and east from its terminus at 7th Street/Metro Center through Downtown Los Angeles to Union Station, from where it would continue onward to Pasadena. But with the project only around 11% complete, the 1998 passage of the ballot measure banning the use of sales tax revenue for subway tunnelling denied Metro the funding necessary for the underground portion of the project.

Congressman Adam Schiff subsequently authored a bill that created a separate authority to continue work on the mostly above-ground section connecting Union Station to Pasadena, and construction began again in 2000. The first segment, now dubbed the Gold Line, opened between Union Station and Sierra Madre Villa on July 26, 2003.[23][24]

The Gold Line implemented limited stop service in 2006 and 2007, but this was eventually replaced by overall speed improvements in 2007. A noise barrier was constructed along the route in South Pasadena between the Mission and Fillmore stations to address noise complaints from South Pasadena residents between April 2007 and July 2007 during track construction.[23] [25][26].

2005: Orange Line opensEdit

In 1991, Metro acquired the former Southern Pacific Railroad Burbank Branch railbed through the San Fernando Valley. This line had seen passenger rail service from 1904 to 1920, with stations at several locations including North Hollywood and Van Nuys, and Pacific Electric Red Car service from North Hollywood to Van Nuys again from 1938 to 1952.[27] Transit planners envisioned an extension of the Metro Red Line subway as the most natural use for the corridor because the purchased right-of-way began at North Hollywood station.

L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan suggested converting the right of way to an open trench — "Some way to get it out of the ground" — to save costs compared to the use of deep-burrow tunnel boring machines (TBM) while still addressing neighborhood objections to an elevated line. However, local community groups fiercely opposed such alternatives and, in fact, any rail construction that was not completely underground. In particular, the local Orthodox Jewish community, which the line would bisect, resisted an above-ground line; because Shabbat prohibits driving or using electricity from sundown Friday through Saturday, those travelling to synagogue are compelled to walk and, while not backed by any studies, local community leaders claimed they would be exposed to greater potential danger by crossing the line on foot, especially at night. Groups were organized and funded by the community to kill anything but a subway.[28][29]

In response to these objections, California state Senator Alan Robbins (later convicted and imprisoned for accepting bribes[30]) introduced legislation which prohibited the use of the corridor for "any form of rail transit other than a deep bore subway located at least 25 feet below ground." The California Legislature passed it as law in 1991 during what was called "the days of LA anti-rail zealotry".[31][32][33] (The law would eventually be repealed in 2014.[34])

But the passage of Proposition A in 1998 also cut off funding for a potential subway line in the corridor. With both subway and light rail now legally prohibited, but with growing political pressure to use the former railbed for "something," the only available, legal option to make use of the transit corridor was to build a busway. This was also immediately opposed by neighborhood groups; however, a restriction on busways was never included in the already-passed Robbins law—allowing it to move forward.

Construction began on the bus rapid transit line in September 2002. During construction, the contractor experienced several delays: a dead body was found tucked in a barrel along the alignment, and toxic soil had to be removed. In July 2004, an appeal by a local citizens' group known as C.O.S.T. (Citizens Organized for Smart Transit) was successful in convincing the California Court of Appeal to order a temporary halt to construction, claiming a network of Rapid Lines should have been studied as a possible alternative to the Metro Orange Line. The legal maneuver was unsuccessful in terminating the project, but costs to taxpayers for the 30-day shutdown were $70,000 per day ($2.1 million total) to hold workers and equipment while the matter was resolved. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out of court by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David P. Yaffe who also ordered C.O.S.T. members to pay $37,415.81 to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for document-preparation work related to the case.[35]

The busway, dubbed the Orange Line, opened on October 29, 2005 between North Hollywood and Warner Center, at a final cost of $324 million ($23 million per mile).[36] Within two years, capacity demands led to Metro deploying 65-foot (20 m) buses The agency had to receive a special waiver from Caltrans to operate the bus for testing purposes, since current state law only allows the operation of buses 60 feet (18 m) or shorter.[37] 65-foot (20 m) buses have a seating capacity of 66 passengers and can accommodate 100 passengers.[38]

2008: Measure REdit

In the 2008 election, Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R with 67.22% of the vote, just over the two-thirds majority required by the state of California to raise local taxes.[39] The initiative provided sales tax revenue for transportation projects, including subway tunnelling, and will result in the construction or expansion of a dozen rail lines in the county.[40]

2009: Gold Line Eastside ExtensionEdit

Gold Line Maravilla station under construction in December 2008

On November 15, 2009, Metro opened the first phase of the Gold Line Eastside Extension.[41][42][43] The project extended the Gold Line from Union Station to Atlantic Boulevard near Monterey Park.[44][45][46] The extended route serves Little Tokyo, Arts District, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles.[47] The project added eight stations, two of which (Mariachi Plaza and Soto) are underground stations, only the second set of subway stations in the light rail portion of the Metro Rail system (after the 7th Street/Metro Center station).[48]

2009: Freeway busways become the Silver LineEdit

This elevated section of the Harbor Transitway carries the Metro Silver Line and the Metro ExpressLanes over the frequently congested Harbor Freeway.

Express bus service along the San Bernardino Freeway has been provided by the El Monte Busway since 1973. In the 1990s, a similar facility, the Harbor Transitway, was built along the Harbor Freeway. In 1993, Metro's Scheduling and Operations Planning department issued a report on what it called a "Dual Hub High Occupancy Vehicle Transitway." The report suggested that when the Harbor Transitway opened in 1995, it should be served by a "high speed, high capacity service" that would also serve the El Monte Busway. Existing express routes that traveled on the two facilities would be truncated to end at one of two hubs (El Monte station and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center) where passengers would transfer to a bus that would take them the rest of the way to Downtown LA.

In the end, Metro decided to adopt another proposal in the report, increasing service on the existing Harbor Freeway express lines and operating each as independent routes. Because most of the freeway express buses traveling on the El Monte Busway and Harbor Transitway served the needs of commuters, service was frequent along the corridors during the weekday peak hours, but infrequent during other times.

When the Harbor Transitway opened in 1995 it was seen as a white elephant. The route stopped a mile short of Downtown LA and the stations, being close to freeway traffic, were criticized as being noisy, polluted and appeared uninviting.[49] Planners had projected that 65,200 passengers would travel along the Harbor Transitway each day, but after 10 years ridership fell far below those predictions, with the route seeing just 3,000 passengers per weekday in 2004.[49] Starting in the early 2000s Metro tried to increase ridership on the two corridors by branding them as a part of the burgeoning Metro Rail system. The El Monte Busway was added to maps using a silver color, while the Harbor Transitway was added in bronze.

In 2007, Foothill Transit introduced the Silver Streak as a "single hub" service along the El Monte busway. Several Foothill Transit routes were truncated at El Monte station and passengers transferred to frequent, high capacity Silver Streak buses. The line was deemed a success.

In 2008, Metro once again looked at the concept of linking the El Monte Busway and the Harbor Transitway with a "Dual Hub Bus Rapid Transit" route.[50] After several months of study the Metro voted to introduce the service as the Silver Line in summer 2009. Five Metro Express lines were truncated to terminate at either Harbor Gateway Transit Center or the El Monte station, where passengers would transfer to the Silver Line to continue into Downtown Los Angeles.[51]

Metro also studied drastically changing the fare structure on the route. Previously, passengers on freeway express routes would pay zone fares up to $3.95 based on distance travelled. To encourage ridership, Metro looked into charging the same flat base fare ($1.50 at the time) used on Metro Rail, the Metro Orange Line, and Metro Local routes. The plan encountered heavy opposition from Foothill Transit who worried the low fares would reduce ridership on its more expensive Silver Streak service.[52] In the end Metro set a flat-rate fare of $2.45, which was more than the base fare used on the rest of the system, but 30¢ cheaper than the Silver Streak. The fare fight delayed the opening of the Silver Line several months.

The line eventually opened in December 2009 and carried 6,200 passengers a day during the first month, similar to the combined ridership of the express routes the Silver Line replaced.[53] Service operated half-hourly during the mid-day hours and hourly at night and on weekends. Over the next two years, ridership steadily increased to 11,000 daily passengers in October 2011.[53] Encouraged by the results Metro continued to improve headways, operating buses every 15 minutes during the mid-day hours and every 40 minutes on Saturday.[53]

2012: Expo Line Initial SegmentEdit

The next Metro Rail line built followed the right-of-way first opened in 1875[54] as the steam-powered Los Angeles and Independence Railroad to bring mining ore to ships in Santa Monica harbor and as a passenger excursion train to the beach—first independently and later after purchase by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1877. When the Santa Monica harbor closed to shipping traffic in 1909 the line was leased to Pacific Electric, which converted it to electric traction. By 1920 the line was called the Santa Monica Air Line[55], providing electric-powered freight and passenger service between Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Electrically-powered passenger service stopped in 1953 but diesel-powered freight deliveries to warehouses along the route continued until March 11, 1988.[56]

While Southern Pacific maintained ownership of the right-of-way, after 1988 it no longer used or maintained the rails. Portions of the right-of-way were leased for use as storage facilities, parking lots, impound lots, and various businesses, but no permanent structures were built.[57] The abandonment of the line spurred concerns within the community to prevent the line from being sold off piecemeal—destroying one of the few remaining intact rail corridors within Los Angeles County. Advocacy groups including Friends 4 Expo Transit[58] supported the successful passage of Proposition C in 1990, which allowed the purchase of the entire right-of-way from Southern Pacific by Metro (LACTC).

In 1998, Metro successfully lobbied the federal government to use funding that had been allocated for but not spent on the Red Line for a project along the Expo right-of-way project to the Mid-City district of Los Angeles. Metro then released a Major Investment Study in 2000 which compared bus rapid transit and light rail transit options along what was now known as the "Mid-City/Exposition Corridor".[59] Construction began in mid-2006.[60] The line was originally dubbed the "Aqua Line"[61]; later it was redesignated the "Expo Line," though the line retained the aqua color.

An independent agency, the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, was given the authority to plan, design, and construct the line by state law in 2003. The first phase comprised the 8.6-mile (13.8 km)[62][63] section between Downtown Los Angeles and Culver City. Construction began in early 2006 and most stations opened to the public on April 28, 2012.[63][64] The Culver City and Farmdale stations opened on June 20, 2012.[63][65]

2012: Orange Line Chatsworth ExtensionEdit

Metro Orange Line at Chatsworth Metro Orange Line Station. The 4-mile extension from Canoga Station to Chatsworth opened June 30, 2012.

On June 23, 2009 construction began on a four-mile (6 km) extension of the Orange Line busway from Canoga northward to the Metrolink station in Chatsworth. Metro's board approved the plan on September 28, 2006, and it was completed in 2012 at a cost of $215 million.[66][67][68] This continues to follow the abandoned SP Burbank Branch roadbed. Revenue service opened on June 30, 2012.[69]

When the Chatsworth extension of the Metro Orange Line opened on June 30, 2012, several different service patterns used the busway network, including a peak-hour shuttle between Chatsworth and Warner Center. To provide service on these shuttles, several NABI 45-foot Compo buses were assigned to the Metro Orange Line. In 2018, Warner Center, which was the only stop on the line outside the dedicated busway, was removed from the Orange Line, with a frequent local shuttle service connecting it to Canoga; subsequently Orange Line buses only travelled along the busway, with alternate short turn buses at peak hours stopping at Canoga.

2012-2015: Silver Line improvementsEdit

Metro ExpressLanes improvementsEdit

Harbor Gateway Transit Center is the southern terminus of the Metro Silver Line.

Major improvements to the Silver Line were made as part of the Metro ExpressLanes project to convert the El Monte Busway and the Harbor Transitway from lanes reserved for buses and high occupancy vehicles into high occupancy toll lanes that allow solo drivers to pay a toll to use lanes. Federal funding and some of the tolls collected were used to both refurbish the aging stations used by the Silver Line and improve frequencies on the route. The most drastic change happened at the crowded, 37-year-old El Monte Station which was demolished in 2010 and entirely rebuilt.[53] The new station opened in October 2012 with more bus bays, staffed information counters, restrooms, improved lighting and security.

The old clock was replaced with signage towards the parking lot at Harbor Gateway Transit Center.

Stations along the Harbor Transitway were improved between early 2011 and late 2012 with the addition of real time arrival signs, new wayfinding signage, improved lighting and sound proofing.[53] The Harbor Gateway Transit Center also received bathrooms and a substation for LA County Sheriff's deputies who now exclusively patrol Silver Line facilities.[53]

Stations along the El Monte Busway were the last to be improved, each closing for a month in early 2015. During the closure staircases were replaced and new wayfinding signage, real-time arrival signs and improved lighting were installed.

Along the street-running portion of the Silver Line in Downtown Los Angeles, LADOT added bus priority to traffic lights to improve on-time performance in Downtown Los Angeles. This work was completed by October 31, 2012.[70]

Starting in 2012, toll revenue used to improve service during peak hours was further improved with buses arriving as often as every 4 minutes, Saturday service frequency was improved to 20 minutes and to 30 minutes on Sundays. Sunday frequency was further improved to 20 minutes in December 2013.[71]

Silver 2 SilverEdit

As feared by Foothill Transit officials, the 30¢ higher fares on the Silver Streak meant passengers along the El Monte Busway often opted to ride the Silver Line to save money. That led to Silver Line buses operating at capacity during peak hours, with the larger Silver Streak buses being under-utilized. To address the problem a new reciprocal fare program between Metro and Foothill Transit called "Silver 2 Silver" was introduced as part of a one-year trial in October 2012.[72][73] Fares on the Silver Streak were lowered match the price of the Silver Line and passengers with a valid pass may ride either route between Downtown Los Angeles and the El Monte Station.[74] Toll funding from the Metro ExpressLanes was used to reimburse Foothill Transit for the cost difference. In October 2013 a review of the program deemed it a success and made it permanent.

Extension to San Pedro and express serviceEdit

While many freeway express lines on the Harbor Transitway were truncated after the introduction of the Silver Line, a notable exception was Metro Express Line 450X. Considered one of Metro's "premium express" routes, buses made very limited stops between Downtown Los Angeles and the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, skipping most of the stations along the Harbor Transitway. The route initially only ran during weekday peak hours, but was later extended to San Pedro and operated as a shuttle service between the Harbor Gateway Transit Center and San Pedro during off-peak hours and weekends.

In December 2015, Metro combined the Silver Line and Metro Express 450X. During off-peak hours and weekends some Silver Line trips traveled to San Pedro, and during weekday peak periods a Silver Line Express route, designated as Line 950X, operated between San Pedro and El Monte, skipping most of the stations along the Harbor Transitway. The change gave passengers a one-seat ride to San Pedro during the off-peak periods and created more Silver Line service on the El Monte Busway.

However, due to overcrowding on Silver Line buses during the peak period, the Silver Line Express buses began stopping at Manchester and Slauson stations in December 2016. With only two stations were skipped for a two-minute time savings.[75] Metro discontinued Silver Line Express service completely in June 2017. Subsequently, the Silver Line had two service patterns: Line 910, which followed the original route between El Monte and Harbor Gateway, and Line 950, which continued beyond Harbor Gateway to San Pedro.[76]

2016: Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to AzusaEdit

The Gold Line Foothill Extension project is a multistage project to extended the Gold Line beyond Pasadena into the northeastern part of Los Angeles county and into San Bernardino County.[77] The first stage, called Phase 2A,[nb 1] running from Sierra Madre Villa station in Pasadena to APU/Citrus College station in Azusa, opened on March 5, 2016.

The construction of this segment involved replacing a steel railroad bridge at the point where the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe right-of-way departed from I-210 in Arcadia. Caltrans deemed the structure unsafe following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and it was replaced by a new structure known as the Gold Line Bridge,[78] designed by Minnesota artist Andrew Leicester. The woven-basket look of the bridge's support columns emulate the famed woven baskets of the native Gabrielino/Tongva of the San Gabriel Valley while the underbelly of the bridge is supposed to evoke a Western diamondback rattlesnake.[79]

Phase 2A also included the construction of a 27-acre (11 ha)[80] new maintenance and operations facility in the city of Monrovia for servicing and storing up to 84 light rail vehicles[81][82]

2016: Expo Line Santa Monica ExtensionEdit

Metro conducted study on the Expo Phase 2 from 2007 to 2009 and approved the project in 2010, with planned opening to Santa Monica in early 2016. The Expo Construction Authority officially handed over control of the Expo Phase II track to L.A. Metro for the county transit agency to begin pre-revenue train testing on January 15, 2016.[83] This phase was opened on May 20, 2016.[84]

Design and construction on the 6.6-mile (10.6 km)[62] portion between Culver City and Santa Monica started in September 2011. Testing along the phase 2 segment began on April 6, 2015,[85] and the segment opened on May 20, 2016.[86]

After construction was completed, the line was handed over on January 15, 2016, to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for testing and operation.[87] The line opened on May 20th of that year.[88]


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  1. ^ The entire Foothill Extension is numbered Phase 2, with the original Union Station to Pasadena Gold Line segment being thought of as Phase 1. This is somewhat of a misnumbering, as the Gold Line Eastside Extension was built between these two phases, but long-range plans call for the Union Station to Montclair and Union Station to East Los Angeles branches to be run as separate lines.