|Metro A Line (Blue)|
|Other name(s)||Blue Line (prior to November 2, 2019)|
|System||Los Angeles Metro Rail|
|Termini||Downtown Long Beach|
7th Street/Metro Center
|Daily ridership||63,008 (Oct. 2018; avg. weekday)|
|Opened||July 14, 1990|
|Character||Mostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections.|
|Rolling stock||Trains run in 2-3 car consists|
|Line length||22.0 mi (35.4 km)|
|Number of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||750 V DC overhead catenary (overhead rigid rail; tunnel only)|
|Operating speed||55 mph (89 km/h)|
The Metro A Line (formerly the Blue Line) 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[update]. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The A Line passes near the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers can be seen from the train near 103rd Street station. The under-construction Regional Connector will directly link this line to Union Station and beyond.
The Metro A Line runs 22.0 miles (35.4 km) between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach making stops at 22 stations.
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 Metro Silver Line bus rapid transit 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 on Long Beach Avenue where it enters the former Pacific Electric right-of-way. This historic rail corridor has four tracks, two are used by A Line trains and two are used by freight trains. There are some elevated sections as this private right of way cuts through more densely populated areas. Passengers can connect with the Metro Green Line at approximately midway through the rail corridor as it passes under Interstate 105 at Willowbrook station. Just south of Willow station, A Line trains exit the rail corridor and follows 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.
Trains run between approximately 4:45 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the following morning. 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
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. 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.
During peak hours, every other train serves 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 A Line storage yard and because it is the last southbound station with a park-and-ride lot. In the evening rush hour, riders will see some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach". Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach must exit at Willow Station and wait for the next train which will terminate at Downtown Long Beach Station. This was discontinued after the New Blue Improvements Project was complete.
When the A Line began operation in 1990 as the Blue Line, it was projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000. 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.
As of October 2018[update], the A Line had an average weekday ridership of 63,008, and Saturday and Sunday boardings of 30,579 and 30,314, respectively. In 2017, the line saw a total of 22.38 million boardings.
Much of the current A Line follows the route of streetcar service operated by Pacific Electric Railway; service on the route ended in 1961. The current line opened on Saturday, July 14, 1990, at a cost of US$877 million.; the next year it was extended to the Financial District and Downtown Long Beach. An intended extension to Pasadena was scrapped after the 1998 county ballot was approved which banned the use of sales tax revenue for subway projects, preventing construction of a downtown light rail tunnel.
The 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. Between 2014 and 2019, the New Blue project extensively renovated the line, climaxing in a year-long period during 2019 when much of the line was closed. Upon reopening, the line was renamed the A Line. Metro also refers to the line as A Line (Blue) in certain contexts.
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 Gold Line and allow a seamless one-seat ride between the A and E Lines' current terminus at 7th Street/Metro Center and Union Station. When this project is completed, the A, E, and Gold Lines will be simplified into the following:
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.
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 Expo Line tracks with the Gold 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.
Over 120 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at A Line level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 collisions, making the line easily the country's deadliest and most collision-prone rail line.
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:
Other identified contributing factors were the high local population density that leads 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 Washington station and Del Amo 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.
The following is the complete list of stations, from north to south.
|7th Street/Metro Center||
*Weekday rush hours only
|February 15, 1991||Downtown Los Angeles|
|Pico||July 14, 1990|
|Grand/LATTC||July 14, 1990|
|San Pedro Street||July 14, 1990||Los Angeles (South Central)|
|Washington||July 14, 1990|
|Vernon||July 14, 1990|
|Slauson||July 14, 1990|
|Florence||July 14, 1990||Florence-Graham|
|Firestone||July 14, 1990|
|103rd Street/Watts Towers||July 14, 1990||Los Angeles (Watts)|
|Willowbrook||July 14, 1990||Willowbrook|
*Late-night (owl) service only
|July 14, 1990||Compton|
|Artesia||July 14, 1990|
|Del Amo||July 14, 1990||Carson|
|Wardlow||July 14, 1990||Long Beach|
|Willow Street||July 14, 1990|
|Pacific Coast Highway||July 14, 1990|
|Anaheim Street||July 14, 1990|
|Downtown Long Beach
On Metro Rail Operations' internal timetables, the A Line is called line 801.
The A Line is operated out of the Division 11 Yard (208th Street Yard) located at 4170 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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