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Los Angeles Metro

Los Angeles Metro red Line B (Red)
Los Angeles Metro purple Line D (Purple)
Los Angeles Metro blue Line A (Blue)
Los Angeles Metro expo Line E (Expo)
Los Angeles Metro gold Line J (Gold)
Los Angeles Metro green Line C (Green)
Los Angeles Metro crenshaw Line C (Crenshaw/LAX) under construction'


The Los Angeles County Metro Rail is the current mass transit rail system operating in Los Angeles. It is run by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is the descendant of the Pacific Electric Red Car system and Los Angeles Railway Yellow Car lines which operated in the area from the early to middle twentieth century. Currently, Metro Rail boasts three light rail lines and two rapid transit subway lines, altogether totaling 73.1 miles of rail, 62 stations, and approximately 276,900 daily weekday boardings as of June 2006.


The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) runs five rail lines throughout Los Angeles County.

Route Beginning Terminal Ending Terminal
Heavy Rail
Los Angeles Metro red Line Red Line Union Station North Hollywood
making all stops
Los Angeles Metro purple Line Purple Line Union Station Wilshire / Western
making all stops
Light Rail
Los Angeles Metro blue Line Blue Line 7th Street / Metro Center Downtown Long Beach
making all stops; One-way operation from 5th Street to Pacific Avenue
Los Angeles Metro expo Line Expo Line 7th Street / Metro Center Downtown Santa Monica
making all stops
Los Angeles Metro gold Line Gold Line Atlantic APU / Citrus College
making all stops
Los Angeles Metro green Line Green Line Redondo Beach Norwalk
making all stops

Metro Transitway System[]

While assigned colors and appearing on the Metro Rail system map, the lines of the Metro Transitway system are not rail lines but bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. Bus rapid transit systems are designed with characteristics similar to an urban light rail system such as a dedicated right-of-way (or a right-of-way shared with other high-occupancy vehicles) and dedicated stations, usually dispersed approximately one mile apart, featuring amenities such as public art, park-and-ride lots, and/or ticket vending machines.

Route Beginning Terminal Ending Terminal
Los Angeles Metro orange Line Orange Line North Hollywood Chatsworth
making all stops
Los Angeles Metro silver Line Silver Line El Monte Station Pacific Coast Highway
Street stop service to Pacific / 21th Street
transit through local streets


The Los Angeles Subway is the rapid transit system of the city of Los Angeles, California. As described below, all Los Angeles streetcar lines had been closed down by 1963 in favor of using automobiles on an extensive freeway system. With 14 million people in the greater metropolitan area, those automobiles soon created one of the most traffic-congested cities in the country. In the 1980s, Los Angeles County voters approved a half-cent sales tax decided to build a network of metro and light rail lines.

Although the first light rail opened in 1990, the first underground subway - the Red Line - opened in 1993 after seven years of construction. Originally designated as one line with two branches, the subway was later re-designated as two lines, the Red Line, running from downtown Los Angeles westwards to Hollywood and North Hollywood, and the Purple Line, running along Wilshire Boulevard to Koreatown. As of the Second Quarter of 2006, the combined Red and Purple lines averaged a weekday ridership of 139,200.[1]

All of the underground stations boast an interesting design, as 0.5% of the total construction budget of the stations was reserved for public art. Due to the city's proximity to fault lines, tunnels had to be built to resist earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.5. Both lines utilize an electrified third rail to provide power to the trains, making subway trains incompatible with the other three rail lines.

Light Rail[]

Los Angeles' first modern light rail, the Blue Line, opened in 1990, 27 years after streetcar service ended (see below). Of the five Metro Rail lines, three (Blue, Green, and Gold) are configured as light rail lines. These lines utilize overhead catenary cables to provide electric power to the trains, making light rail trains incompatible with the two subway lines. As a result, the Blue Line terminates at 7th St/ Metro Center rather than continuing on to Union Station, and riders wishing to transfer between the Blue Line and the myriad of other rail services at Union Station must first transfer to the subway for an intermediate trip of a little over a mile and a half.

The Blue and Gold Lines run mostly at grade, with some street-running, elevated, and underground stretches in more densely-populated areas. The Green Line is entirely grade-separated, running in the median of the 105 Freeway and then turning southward along an elevated route.

Metro's light rail system is the third largest LRT in the United States by ridership, with 137,700 average weekday boardings during the second quarter of 2006.[2] Additionally, the Blue Line is the second largest light rail line by ridership in North America with an average weekday ridership of 80,000, after the Boston Green Line's daily ridership of 204,800, although the MBTA figure includes multiple branches.


Los Angeles once had the world's most extensive electric-powered rail transit system, the Pacific Electric Railway's "Red Car," with 1,100 miles (1,770 km) of track and 2,800 scheduled trains each day. Rail lines and streetcars (trolleys) ran up and down most major streets in Los Angeles and its suburbs. In addition to the Pacific Electric, most of the streetcars in the central city and surrounding neighborhoods were operated by Henry Huntington's Los Angeles Railway, later Los Angeles Transit Lines, who ran the "Yellow Cars." The "Red Cars" were mostly interurban trains connecting widely separated cities with each other, with the exception of a few small neighborhood lines in areas like Echo Park and Redlands.

Ridership of the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway peaked in the early 1930s, with another increase during World War II, however, as increasing automobile traffic both drew riders away from the Red Cars and Yellow Cars and caused its lines — which usually operated in mixed traffic and had at-grade street crossings — to slow to a grinding halt. (At one point late in the Red Car's life, average speeds on the busy Santa Monica Boulevard line had fallen below 15 mph.)

Throughout the United States in the 1950s, the emergent middle class poured into automobile-dependent outer-ring suburbs, which were gradually connected to urban centers and to one another by a web of freeways. This process accelerated in the 1950s, when a variety of factors, such as relaxation of automobile loan rules by the Federal Reserve, falling automobile prices, and federal subsidies for freeway construction led to a nearly wholesale switch from transit systems to freeway systems. Most electric rail systems, including the Pacific Electric, either switched to buses or closed down altogether. According to the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, GM and a number of conspiring corporations were responsible for the closure of the rail lines; however, Pacific Electric had in fact begun the transition from streetcars to buses in the mid-1920s due to a variety of factors. In any case, a private company, Metropolitan Coach Lines, purchased and closed most of Pacific Electric's remaining rail lines in 1954 and converted them to buses. The state government would not allow MCL to shutter the most used rail lines, which caused MCL to seek to sell off its rail operations instead.

A public agency, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, a predecessor to the RTD and the current MTA, took control of all remaining Los Angeles County passenger rail lines in 1958. The agency closed the remaining interurban rail and streetcar lines over the course of the following five years. After almost 90 years of streetcars and electric rail in Los Angeles, the last remaining Red Car line went out of service in 1961 and the last streetcar lines, remnants of the Yellow Car, originally operated by the Los Angeles Railway, followed suit two years later.

After years of debate and a twenty-year flirtation with monorail technology, MTA began construction on several new conventional rail lines in the 1980s. In 1990, rail transit returned to Los Angeles with the Blue line, a light rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach, using largely the right-of-way last used by the Pacific Electric in 1961. Plans originally called for subway lines to the {{Wikipedia reference|San Fernando Valley]] (via Hollywood), Pasadena, and East Los Angeles, but budget concerns and political opposition meant that only 18 of the planned 50+ miles of subway were built. Today, there are four rail lines that cover 73.1 miles (118 km) of track. However, several expansion projects are currently in the works as noted below.

Hours of operation[]

Metro Rail generally operates from 5:00 AM to 12:00 AM from Sunday to Thursday (including Holidays) and from 5:00 AM to 2:00 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. However, exact times vary from route to route. See individual route articles for more information.


All fare collection is based on a proof of payment system. At least two fare machines are outside each station. Fare inspectors and deputy sheriffs police the system and cite individuals without fares. The standard Metro base fare applies for all trips. Unlike Metro Bus, no special night fare applies to overnight service.

Fare Regular Senior/Disabled/Medicare
Base Fare $1.25 $.45
Tokens $1.10 --
Metro Day Pass $3.00 $1.50
Weekly Pass $14.00 --
Semi-monthly Pass $27.00 --
Student Fare Card (with monthly stamp) $20.00 --
Monthly Pass $52.00 $12.00
Metro-to-Muni Transfer $.25 $.10

Current projects[]

  • The Eastside Extension is a six-mile extension of the Gold Line to East Los Angeles. It is currently under construction and is scheduled to be completed in late 2009. Due to the narrowness of First Street, a 1.8 mile section of the extension in the working-class minority neighborhood of Boyle Heights containing two stations will be underground.
  • The Expo Line line (official name: "Metro Rail Mid-City/Exposition Transit Project") will be a light-rail line from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica via the Exposition Boulevard corridor in northern South Los Angeles. Construction of the first phase (9.6 miles) from the 7th Street/Metro Center station in downtown to Venice/Robertson in Culver City, began in September 2006. On May 30, 2006, surveying activities began along the line, with construction completion slated for 2010. No color identifying the line has yet been chosen due to a conflict among the MTA Board members on this issue. No funding has yet been identified for the second phase of the Expo Line, which aims to bring the line from Culver City to Santa Monica, a short distance from the Pacific Ocean.

Expansion proposals[]


  • Purple Line: Los Angeles mayor and MTA chair Antonio Villaraigosa has announced his intention to extend the Purple Line from its current terminus at Western Avenue to downtown Santa Monica. MTA has not officially announced this project. In the past there was a federal ban on tunnel construction in the Miracle Mile District, due to lingering concerns over large pockets of methane gas underneath it. On October 27, 2005, a panel selected by the MTA Board and Congressman Henry Waxman, formerly a vocal opponent of the subway extension, declared that extension of the subway was safe. On December 16, 2005, Waxman introduced H.R. 4571 to the U.S. House to allow subway tunneling under Wilshire Boulevard. On September 19, 2006, H.R. 4571 passed the U.S. House of Representatives, removing a major roadblock preventing the construction of this extension.
  • Blue Line: Initial plans for the Blue Line called for it to travel all the way to Union Station and beyond; thus, the Gold Line was originally known as the "Pasadena Blue Line." A subway tunnel of approximately two miles (known as the "Downtown or Regional Connector") connecting the 7th St/Metro Center to the future Eastside Extension at First and Alameda would allow the Blue and Expo Lines to reach Union Station, Pasadena and the Eastside, and vice versa. However, because a county subway construction funds initiative (passed in 1998) bans public funding for extension work, all work has been halted. In September 2005, the MTA board publicly indicated its desire to take up this project again, a call heartily endorsed by the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Gold Line: Using former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway trackage and right-of-way in the San Gabriel Valley, The Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority is working to extend the northern branch of the Gold Line eastward, from its current terminus in Pasadena to the city of Montclair in San Bernardino County, or even possibly to L.A./Ontario International Airport. As the population density is lower in this portion of the county and projected ridership is lower, other projects have been given a higher priority than this extension. The 24-mile (39 km) Foothill Extension (so named because the route is just to the south of a mountain range) does enjoy popular support from all of the twenty-three cities along its route. The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments recently obtained federal funding for environmental studies and hopes construction of the first segment to Azusa can begin in as early as 2007 with a possible completion in 2010. The second segment to Montclair is hoped to be completed by 2014. That the extension has been seriously considered at all is due in large part to the advocacy of former Azusa city manager Rick Cole, a vocal smart growth proponent.
    With the completion of the Foothill and Eastside extensions by 2014, the Gold Line would become the longest Metro Line, and maybe even the longest light rail line in North America, surpassing the 22-mile (35 km) Blue Line with over 50 miles (80 km) of rail.
  • Green Line: The long-delayed reconstruction of Los Angeles International Airport will include a Green Line spur to the new terminal. Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl has called for this spur to be extended to Marina Del Rey or even Venice along Lincoln Boulevard, citing MTA white papers indicating the feasibility of such an extension. The extension would fix the Green Line's issue of being a route that goes "from nowhere to nowhere." The MTA has also in the past listed on its list of possible projects an extension at the Green Line's eastern end, linking the Green Line to the Metrolink station in Norwalk, possibly with a short underground segment.
  • Regional Connector (Downtown Connector) project: Proposed mass transit rail project in downtown Los Angeles, connecting the Blue Line to Union Station. The project would allow Blue Line trains to terminate at Union Station which would allow easier connections, and would allow Gold Line vehicles to travel to the large shops in south LA for their heavy maintenance (they currently need to be trucked). This connection would begin at the 7th Street/Metro Center station, which is currently the northern terminus of the Blue Line. The project is still at very preliminary stages of planning and thus no alignment has yet been determined, but a number of alignments have been informally studied and proposed. The connector was envisioned as far back as 1992, when in its Long Range Transportation Plan, LACMTA envisioned the Blue Line running through downtown to Union Station and onward to Pasadena. The connector was not completed due to lack of funds and realignment of the Red Line eastside extension which became an extension of the Pasadena Gold Line.

Citizens' advocacy[]

Rail advocates have proposed the following lines:

  • The Yellow Line is a proposed light-rail line which would run from North Hollywood to Downtown L.A., serving the communities of Burbank, Glendale, Silver Lake, and Echo Park en route. Part of the proposed route, a former Southern Pacific railway alignment along Chandler Boulevard in Burbank, has recently been converted by the City of Burbank to a bicycle path and parkway, thus reducing the likelihood this line would come to fruition. The Yellow Line proposal also advocates use of the former Belmont tunnel built by the Pacific Electric system, not in use since 1955. The land adjacent to the tunnel exit near Second Street and Beverly Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, long vacant, has recently been sold. An apartment complex is now being built on the site, making it much less likely this area could be used for a new rail line.
  • The Silver Line is another light-rail proposal which would operate from El Monte to Hollywood, passing through the western San Gabriel Valley, Union Station, Downtown L.A., Echo Park, and Silver Lake along the way. It would use existing rail between El Monte and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. (This is unrelated to the proposed Foothill Transit "Silver Streak" bus service, which would also serve the San Gabriel Valley and utilize buses similar to those of the Metro Orange Line.)
  • The Harbor Line would serve residents of the Harbor Area, by connecting it to the rest of Los Angeles by linking it to the MTA's existing light rail system. The line would serve as a convenient way for people to visit San Pedro, which is currently undergoing a state of rapid redevelopment (with the Port's Bridge to Breakwater proposal and other condo projects). This route would use the long-abandoned right-of-way known as the Harbor Subdivision, which MTA currently owns.Template:Fact Part of this route would also form the basis of the proposed LAX Express.

Proposals of connection for Mateo Proposals[]

  • The Bold Line connects Santa Clarita Metrolink with station Coleen/House
  • The Thankful Line connects Burbank/Downtown and Coleen/Work
  • The Quiet Line connects Aviation/LAX with Mateo/House
  • The Original Line connects Aviation/LAX with Hollywood/Highland
  • The Spontaneus Line connects Aviation/LAX with Union Station
  • The Punctual Line connects Mateo/House with Pershing Square

See also[]


External links[]

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (website)
Metro Buses Metro LocalMetro RapidMetro Express
Metro Transitways Orange Line TransitwayHarbor TransitwayEl Monte Busway
Metro Rail Red LinePurple LineBlue LineGreen LineGold LineExpo Line
Connecting rail AmtrakAmtrak CaliforniaMetrolink
Other information Union StationMetro FleetTransportation of Los Angeles
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