This week, TransportiCA has been in Los Angeles covering the American Public Transportation Association's annual meeting and the L.A. Green Festival. With some rare free time, I was able to ride L.A. Metro's Expo Line from the La Cienega / Jefferson station to downtown Santa Monica, with best friend and international rock star, Jay Spears. (Pictured below.)
In a June Tweet, I noted the Expo Line from downtown L.A. to downtown Santa Monica is, well, light rail transit done excellently. Besides being located in a densely populated and massively job-rich area of Los Angeles, the Expo Line bridges the rail divide between the Westside and downtown. Further, with an assortment of transit connections at each station, more non-Westside riders are able to visit the area quicker, and without the worry of traffic affecting even a Rapid line.
While I rode the Expo Line shortly after its May opening, this was Spears' first time, despite being a Westsider. Although traffic to the La Cienega station was horrific, we made it around 17:00, and surprisingly - riding the Expo during the evening commute, the train was not as packed as expected.
Besides experiencing the Expo Line for the first time, Spears and I grabbed dinner at Dagwood's on Wilshire and Lincoln Court. After an amazing homemade lasagna, we walked to the Third Street Promenade, enjoying the bustling activity of Santa Monica Boulevard. Approaching Third Street, Spears remarked how, with the many busses and tall buildings traversing Santa Monica Boulevard, the area was starting to look like San Francisco. (If only the region's transit infrastructure was like SFO...) This was also the first time Spears had been to the Promenade in over a decade.
Returning to the La Cienega / Jefferson Station on a crowded train - which was good, we discussed the transit renaissance L.A. is undergoing, and the potential for even more transformation, if citizens pass Measure M in November. We also spoke of the Gold Line extension to Claremont, the potential Green Line extension - further south to Torrance and into LAX, as well as, Measure M's plan to assist low-income riders further with critical subsidies.
Upon boarding the Expo Line, I stated to Spears how around 2004 - shortly after the Gold Line's initial opening, I mentioned a rail line on the Westside would probably not happen in my lifetime. Thankfully, I was dead wrong, and I hope other Angelenos ride the Expo Line to see the great destinations it offers, and why it is attracting so many new riders.