For the first time in 10 months, Angelenos will be able to go to the Seventh Street/Metro Center rail station and take a train down to Long Beach.
This Saturday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority finished its $350 million renovation of its oldest rail line, the Blue Line. Now known as the A Line under Metro’s new naming system, the line received months of work to improve efficiency along the route, with upgraded signals and crossover tracks, as well as new signage and paint at the different A Line stations. The work, Metro said, was needed to avoid train slowdowns due to clogged tracks.
To celebrate the reopening, Metro is offering free rides on the line Saturday-Monday, Nov. 2-4. The reopening of the A Line — that’ll take a minute to get used to — is cause for praise for the simple fact that the more than 60,000 riders per day who rely on the A Line can return to their normal routines, but it also signals the start of a string of much needed transportation projects to improve access to one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods.
The development boom of the last 20 years in Downtown has seen a major residential influx, as well as businesses that opt to leave the Westside and Hollywood to take advantage of Downtown’s central location and hip demographic. However, the transit infrastructure needed to handle the amount of people commuting to Downtown for work or fun has more or less lagged behind. With more than 105,000 people expected to move to Downtown by 2040, it needs to keep the pedal to the floor when it comes to addressing the lack of transit options.
The revitalized Blue Line is an important first step, the first of several projects to be completed in the upcoming years that are meant to help boost connectivity and access to Downtown. The 2.1-mile Regional Connector, which would create three new stations in Downtown and allow people to travel from San Gabriel to Santa Monica without having to transfer, is more than halfway done and set to be complete in early 2022. Metro is finalizing plans for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, a 19-mile light-rail line that would ferry people in and out of Downtown to and from Artesia. Metro aims to have that route completed by 2028, just in time for Los Angeles to host the 2028 summer Olympics.
The county is trying to increase connectivity across the mesh of towns and cities. And it’s something Angelenos support, they voted for the Measure M sales tax in 2016 to fund transit options. With Downtown experiencing such growth, projects like the new A Line and the Regional Connector are vital steps in ensuring that growth happens smoothly. The last thing anyone in Downtown wants is for the Central City to become an island to itself.
Major transportation infrastructure projects take time, focus and have heavy costs. But the net payoff for increased commuter options is immeasurable.