Typical Metro Rail heavy rail train
Typical Metro Rail light rail train
|Area served||Los Angeles County, California|
|Transit type||Rapid transit/light rail|
|Number of lines|
|Number of stations||93|
|Daily ridership||344,176 (2018; avg. weekday boardings)|
|Annual ridership||108,017,525 (2018)|
|Began operation||July 14, 1990|
|Operator(s)||Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)|
|Headway||4–8 mins (peak); 10–20 mins (off-peak)|
|System length||105 mi (169 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V DC|
The Los Angeles Metro Rail is an urban rail transportation system serving Los Angeles County, California. It consists of six lines, including two rapid transit subway lines (the Red and Purple lines) and four light rail lines (the Blue, Green, Gold and Expo lines) serving 93 stations. It connects with the Metro Busway bus rapid transit system (the Orange Line and Silver Line) and also with the Metrolink commuter rail system.
Metro Rail is owned and operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and started service in 1990. It has been extended significantly since that time and several further extensions are either in the works or being considered. The system served a ridership of 344,176 on an average weekday in 2018.
Los Angeles had two previous rail transit systems, the Pacific Electric Red Car and Los Angeles Railway Yellow Car lines, which operated between the late 19th century and the 1960s. The Metro Rail system utilizes many of their former rights-of-way, and thus can be considered their indirect successor.
In Los Angeles Metro terminology, common with most other metro systems, a line is a named service, defined by a route and set of stations served by trains on that route. (The word does not refer to a physical rail corridor, as it does in New York City Subway nomenclature.) Metro Rail lines are for the most part named after colors, and these colors are used to distinguish the lines on Metro's maps. (The one exception is the Expo Line, which nevertheless is consistently colored aqua on maps.) Metro also uses colors for its Metro Busway services (which are bus services operating in transitways).
In mid-2019, Metro will rename all of its rail and BRT lines with letters, while leaving their colors unchanged on maps.
Six Metro Rail lines operate in Los Angeles County:
|Blue Line||1990||21.3 mi (34.3 km)||22||7th Street/Metro Center (north)
Downtown Long Beach (south)
|Expo Line||2012||13.1 mi (21.1 km)||19||7th Street/Metro Center (east)
Santa Monica (west)
|Gold Line||2003||29.7 mi (47.8 km)||27||APU/Citrus College (north)
|Green Line||1995||19.5 mi (31.4 km)||14||Redondo Beach (west)
|Purple Line||2006[a]||6.4 mi (10.3 km)||8||Wilshire/Western (west)
Union Station (east)
|Red Line||1993||16.4 mi (26.4 km)||14||North Hollywood (north)
Union Station (south)
The Red and Purple lines follow a fully underground route (subway), and the Green Line follows a fully elevated route. The Blue, Expo and Gold Line routes run in a mix of environments, including at-grade street running, at-grade in an exclusive corridor, elevated, and underground.
The two heavy-rail lines (Red and Purple) share tracks between Union Station and Wilshire/Vermont, while two of the light-rail lines (Blue and Expo) share tracks between 7th St/Metro Center and Pico. Future system expansions are expected to use shared light-rail tracks.
The large majority of light rail stations are either at ground level or elevated, while a handful are underground. All heavy rail stations are underground. Future light rail lines will add more underground stations to the system.
Stations include at least two ticket vending machines, wayfinding maps, electronic message displays, and bench seating. Each station features unique artwork reflecting local culture and/or the function of transit in society.
Stations are unstaffed during regular hours. Call boxes are available at most stations to allow employees at the Metro Rail Operations Control Center to assist passengers with concerns.
Metro Rail uses a proof-of-payment fare system, with Metro's fare inspectors randomly inspecting trains and stations to ensure passengers have a valid fare product on their Transit Access Pass (TAP) electronic fare card. When passengers enter a station, they encounter TAP card validators which collect fares when a customer places their card on top. Additionally, fare gates (turnstiles) connected to TAP card validators at all underground stations, all elevated stations and some surface stations. Once passengers pass these validators or board a train, they have entered the "fare paid zone," where fare inspectors may check their TAP card to ensure they have a valid fare.
Underground stations are typically large in size with a mezzanine level for fare sales and collection above a platform level where passengers board trains.
Street-level stations are typically more simple with platforms designed with shade canopies, separated from nearby roads and sidewalks, where passengers can purchase fares and board a train.
Subway stations and tunnels are designed to resist ground shaking that could occur at a specific location, but there is no general magnitude of earthquake that the entire system is expected to withstand. The Metro Rail system has not suffered any damage due to earthquakes since its opening in 1993.
Some suburban stations have free or paid park and ride lots available and most have bike storage available.
Metro Rail maintains two distinct systems of rail: a light rail system and a heavy rail system. The heavy rail and light rail systems are incompatible with each other, even though they both use 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge. Metro's heavy rail lines are powered by third rail, whereas its light rail lines are powered by overhead catenary. Also, the two separate systems have different loading gauge, and platforms are designed to match the separate car widths.
All Metro Rail lines run regularly between 5am and midnight, seven days a week. Limited service on particular segments is provided after midnight and before 5am. On Friday and Saturday evenings, service operates until approximately 2am. There is no rail service between 2am and 3:30am, except on special occasions such as New Year's Eve. Service operates every 5–10 minutes during the peak period, every 10–15 minutes during middays and during the day on weekends, and every 20 minutes during the evening until the close of service. Exact times vary from route to route.
The standard Metro base fare applies for all trips. Fare collection is based on a partial proof-of-payment system. At least two fare machines are at each station. Fare inspectors, local police and deputy sheriffs police the system and cite individuals without fares. Passengers are required to purchase a TAP card to enter stations equipped with fare gates. Passengers using a TAP card can transfer between Metro routes for free within 2 hours from the first tap.
The following table shows Metro fares, effective May 15, 2018 (in US dollars):
|Fare type||Regular||Senior (62+)
|Base fare||$1.75||$0.35 (off-peak)
Metro has implemented a system of electronic fare collection using a stored value smartcard called the Transit Access Pass (or TAP Card). This card was intended to simplify fare collection and reduce costs. In 2012, paper monthly passes were phased out and replaced with the TAP Card. As of September 2013, first-time Metro riders must deposit an additional $2 (or $1 at TAP vending machines) on top of their first fare payment to obtain a reloadable TAP Card.
In addition, Metro began installing fare gates in 2008, at all heavy rail stations and select light rail stations. Implementation of both programs (the TAP Card and the fare gate program) has turned out to be expensive ($154 million in total, so far) and its initial rollout was problematic.
The Metro Rail system saw a total ridership of 108,017,525 in 2018.
As of the second quarter of 2018, the combined Metro Red and Purple lines averaged a weekday ridership of 135,400, making it the ninth busiest heavy rail (rapid transit) system in the United States. Taking overall track length into consideration, Metro Rail's heavy rail lines transport 7,960 passengers per route mile, making this the fifth busiest system U.S. rapid transit system on a per mile basis.
Metro's light rail system is the busiest in the United States with 203,300 average weekday boardings during the second quarter of 2018. At 83.6 miles (134.5 km) Metro's light rail system is the second largest in the United States.
Half of the Metro Rail's trains and stations are patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, under a law enforcement contract. The Los Angeles Police Department, and Long Beach Police Department, also patrol stations within their respective cities, also under contract. The system is also monitored by security personnel by closed-circuit television cameras in Metro Rail stations and subway cars.
In the early 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. 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. By 1963 the remaining rail lines were completely removed and replaced with bus service.
In the following decades, growing traffic congestion led to increased public support for rail transit's return. 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. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA, now branded as Metro) began construction of the initial lines throughout the 1980s using revenues from a voter-approved increase in sales tax. The Blue Line finally opened on July 14, 1990, some 27 years after the final streetcar line closed. Since that date, the system has been developed to its current size. The following table shows this expansion's timeline:
|Segment description||Date opened||Line(s)||Endpoints||# of new
|Blue Line Initial Segment||July 14, 1990||Blue||Pico to Anaheim Street||17||19.1|
|Blue Line Long Beach Loop||September 1, 1990||Blue||Anaheim Street to Pacific||4||2.2|
|Blue Line To Financial District||February 15, 1991||Blue||Pico to 7th St/Metro Center||1||0.7|
|Red Line MOS-1||January 30, 1993||Red, Purple[a]||Union Station to Westlake/MacArthur Park||4[b]||4.4|
|Green Line||August 12, 1995||Green||Redondo Beach to Norwalk||13[b]||20.0|
|Red Line MOS-2 West||July 13, 1996||Red, Purple[a]||Westlake/MacArthur Park to Wilshire/Western||3||2.0|
|Red Line MOS-2 North||June 12, 1999||Red||Wilshire/Vermont to Hollywood/Vine||5||4.7|
|Red Line MOS-3||June 24, 2000||Red||Hollywood/Vine to North Hollywood||3||6.3|
|Gold Line Initial Segment||July 26, 2003||Gold||Union Station to Sierra Madre Villa||12[b]||13.7|
|Gold Line Eastside Extension||November 15, 2009||Gold||Union Station to Atlantic||8||6.0|
|Expo Line Initial Segment||April 28, 2012||Expo||Flower/Washington to La Cienega/Jefferson[c]||8||7.6|
|Expo Line Culver City Extension||June 20, 2012||Expo||La Cienega/Jefferson to Culver City||2[d]||1.0|
|Gold Line Foothill Extension||March 5, 2016||Gold||Sierra Madre Villa to APU/Citrus College||6||11.5|
|Expo Line Santa Monica Extension||May 20, 2016||Expo||Culver City to Santa Monica||7||6.6|
Metro has worked to plan and prioritize project funding and implementation. Metro's 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) was developed to provide a long-term vision of transportation system development for the next 30 years. Metro is currently attempting to update the LRTP 2009 plan citing new housing trends and fiscal changes. Metro plans to release the updated LRTP in early 2020.
Beginning in 2014, Metro saw its ridership numbers begin to decline. Many explanations exist for the decline, including safety concerns, an increase in ride-hailing service usage, and low-income people moving out of L.A. because of the increase in rents.
The fiscal changes are the passage of Measure R, a countywide incrememental sales tax increase passed by voters in 2008, provides funding for many of the highest priority projects in the LRTP. On November 6, 2012, Metro attempted to pass Measure J, but failed as it did not reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
In November 2016 election, Metro decided to place another sales tax on the ballot. The voters then approved Measure M, a half-cent permanent sales tax increase, to fund many local projects, including Metro Rail expansion.
In 2018, Metro approved renaming its rail lines using a letter-based scheme, similar to those in New York City and Chicago. Metro recommends the opening of the refurbished Blue Line (A Line) in 2019 as a starting point to rename the lines, and then continuing with the opening of the Crenshaw/LAX line, finishing in time for the opening of the Regional Connector in 2022.
The following rail projects have been given high priority by Metro. They all appear in the 2009 LRTP constrained plan, and all have funding earmarked from Measure R. With the passage of Measure M in 2016, Metro released an updated Long Range Transportation plan in February 2017, and will release a full report early 2020, along with its Twenty-eight by '28 initiative.
|Crenshaw/LAX Line||Constructs a new light rail route starting at an underground station at the current Crenshaw/Expo station on the Expo Line at Crenshaw Blvd and running south to connect to the Green Line near the current Aviation/LAX station.||2014–20||Mid 2020||Under construction|||
|Regional Connector||Creates a new light rail tunnel through Downtown Los Angeles linking the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines.||2015–22||Mid 2022||Under construction|||
|Purple Line Extension||Phase one extending the Purple Line west along Wilshire Blvd to La Cienega, phase two extending a further three miles to Century City Station thru Beverly Hills. Phase three will consist of two further stations -- at Westwood near UCLA, and at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. All currently under construction with plans to finish all three phases in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics, which the city will host. UCLA will be site of the Olympic Village.||2015–26||2023 (Phase 1) / 2025 (Phase 2) / 2026 (Phase 3)||Under construction|||
|Airport Metro Connector||Will connect LAX terminals and a new rental car facility to the Metro Rail system through the construction an automated people mover system and an infill light rail station, Aviation/96th Street station, which will be served by the Crenshaw/LAX and Green Lines. Built in cooperation with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).||2018–23||2023||Under construction|||
|Gold Line Foothill Extension Phase 2B||Further extends the LRT Gold Line eastward 11.5 miles to Montclair from APU/Citrus College station in Azusa.||2018–26||2026||Pre-construction|||
|East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor||LRT line connecting the east San Fernando Valley to the Orange Line, largely along Van Nuys Blvd and San Fernando Road. The HRT Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is immediately south of Van Nuys Blvd corridors terminus. A transfer station will be constructed to connect with three possible transit options. The BRT Orange Line, HRT Sepulveda pass Transit Corridor Line and the planned LRT. Transfer station optioned include the Metrolink Van Nuys station, a Sherman Way station or the Orange Line Van Nuys station. LRT and HRT or not compatible as a single route.||2021||2027||Final EIR in progress|||
|Gold Line Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2||Extends the LRT Gold Line from its current East LA terminus eastward. Two routes – either along Washington Boulevard to Whittier or along SR-60 to South El Monte – are under consideration. Metro directors have expressed interest in building both routes if funding becomes available.||2025||2035||Three LPA's optioned / Draft EIR published.|||
|South Bay Green Line Extension||Extends the LRT Green Line from its current terminus in Redondo Beach towards Torrance and South Bay cities. If accelerated and funds are available, by 2028.||2026||By 2033||Two LPA's optioned / Draft EIR in progress|||
|West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor||Creates a new LRT route connecting downtown LA to Artesia and the Gateway Cities, much of it along the West Santa Ana Branch, a disused Pacific Electric right-of-way. The downtown terminus is still undetermined; possibilities include the Arts District, and Union Station.||2022||2028||Two LPA's optioned/ Draft EIR in progress|||
|Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor Phase 1 and 2||Planning underway on a rail connection between the Orange Line and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor (see above) in the Valley to the Purple and Expo Lines on the Westside. Modes under consideration including a standalone HRT subway; or a monorail, which unlike the other modes could traverse the Sepulveda Pass without tunneling. Existing local funding sources will provide approximately $5.7 billion for the project for a scheduled opening in the early 2030s; additional funds, including from public-private partnerships, are being sought to complete the line before the 2028 Summer Olympics.||2028||2039||Four LPA's analysis in progress / Draft EIR in progress|||
|Crenshaw Northern Extension Rail Project||Create a new LRT subway line connecting the Metro Red Line's Hollywood/Highland station south to the Metro Purple Line, and the Crenshaw Line's Expo/Crenshaw Station via Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Possible north/south routes including Fairfax, La Brea, La Cienega Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard. An extension north of the Crenshaw Line is included as a Tier 1 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan. The city council approved in May 2018, to expedite its own environmental study to speed up the approval process with Metro. Metro's 2018 budget included $500,000 to begin the draft environmental studies for the extension project. Local residents created the West Hollywood Advocates for Metro Rail to advocate a new LRT or HRT. West Hollywood has publicly stated they prefer all routes be underground thru Santa Monica boulevard.||2041||2047||Five LPA's analysis in progress / Draft EIR in progress|||
|North Hollywood-Pasadena Transit Line||Create a new East/West Bus Rapid Transit route connecting Metro's Memorial Park station in San Gabriel Valley to the North Hollywood station in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley along State Route 134 with possible stops in Eagle Rock, Glendale and Burbank. Metro currently has Measure M and SB-1 state funds to create the line. Projected is set to cost under $267 million to construct. The BRT is expected to begin construction by 2020 and open by 2024 with approximately 13 stations. Part of the Twenty-eight by '28 initiative.||BRT 2020; LRT Unknown||BRT 2023; LRT Unknown||Three BRT LPA's analysis in progress / Draft EIR in progress|||
|North Valley Transit Line||Create a new East/West Bus Rapid Transit route connecting Metro's Chatsworth's Metrolink Station to the North Hollywood station in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley along Nordhoff Street and Roscoe Boulevard primarily. Once the BRT Line reaches Laurel Canyon Boulevard or Lankershim Boulevard in Sun Valley district in LA, it would proceed south to North Hollywood with possible stations at Strathern Avenue, Saticoy Street, Sherman Way, Vanowen Street, Victory Boulevard, Oxnard Street, and Burbank Boulevard. Metro currently has Measure M funds for project. Project is set to cost under $267 million to construct. The BRT is expected to begin construction by 2021 and open by 2024. Part of the Twenty-eight by '28 initiative. LRT funds are not currently available.||BRT 2021 ; LRT Unknown||BRT 2024; LRT Unknown||Various BRT LPA's analysis in progress / Pending Draft EIR for BRT|||
|Vermont Transit Corridor||Create a new north/south subway route down Vermont Avenue extending the HRT Red Line at the Wilshire/Vermont Station south, to the Metro Expo Line and Green Line. Included as a Tier 2 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan; a Bus rapid transit line has been funded in the near term by Measure M, but studies will be conducted for possible heavy rail transit, as the Vermont corridor is Metro's second busiest public transportation corridor.||BRT 2020; HRT 2060||BRT 2024; HRT 2067||Three LPA analysis funded / Pending Draft EIR for BRT|||
|Orange Line LRT Conversion||Converting the current Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit route into LRT. Made possible after the 2014 repeal of state legislation prohibiting LRT along the Orange Line right of way, which had been enacted due to neighborhood opposition in the 1990s. Bridges along the busway are designed to LRT standards, but the project would require substantial service disruption as the roadway is replaced by rails and catenary wire installed. Some Valley politicians and pressure groups have endorsed the proposal; critics have suggested funding would be better spent on adding new lines along other corridors in the Valley. Long terms plans include complete conversion in phases with full replacement by 2057. Metro commenced BRT upgrades in 2018 by adding more grade crossing gates, two new over cross bridges at Van Nuys Blvd and Sepulveda Blvd, reducing travel time by 20%.||2051||2057||No current funds available for LRT until 2051|||
|Lincoln Blvd BRT/LRT Line||Extend the LRT Green Line from LAX northwest to Venice and Santa Monica Beach and possibly connect with the Expo Lines western terminus. The Green Line was originally engineered to maintain compatibility with this extension. Included in City of Los Angeles Westside Mobility Plan, and as a Tier 2 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan.||BRT 2043; LRT Unknown||BRT 2047; LRT Unknown||No LPA or EIR conducted|||
|Arts District Station||Extend the HRT Purple and Red Lines from their eastern terminus at Union Station, south along the river to the Arts District, and possibly across the river along Whittier Blvd. to the Eastside. Not included in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan. However, Metro is studying the possibility of adding one or two stops along the river in the Arts District as part of a project to improve and expand the rail yard already in the area to accommodate increased headways once the Purple Line extension west is completed. Draft Environmetal study funds were appropriated in the 2018 Metro budget. Draft EIR in progress. Metro advocates no Measure M or R funds are available for construction.||Unknown||Unknown||LPA Draft Environmental Study funded|||
The following proposed line/system expansions do not have funding or high priority in Metro's long-range plans. Some are listed as "strategic unfunded" in the last Long Range Transportation Plan, indicating some possibility they could be constructed should additional funding materialize. Others have been the subject of Metro Board discussion, with the possibility of future feasibility studies. (More information on each project can be found in the references.)
Note a major update of Metro's 2009 plan is underway, updating the Long Range Transportation Plan. The results of early planning studies as a part of that process are expected to be made public in approximately early 2020, and may result in the addition of new proposed projects, changes to concepts listed below, and the removal of concepts whose popularity has declined since 2009.
|Burbank-Glendale Line||Would connect Downtown Los Angeles to Glendale and Burbank. Studied in the 1990s, and included as a Tier 1 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan.|||
|Red Line To Burbank Airport||Extend the Metro Red Line 3.2 miles (5.1 km) from its northwestern terminus to Burbank Airport. Included as a Tier 1 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan.|||
|Green Line To Norwalk Metrolink||Extend the Green Line east to Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs station (Metrolink). Included as a Tier 1 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan.|||
|"Pink Line"/"Silver Line" (former names)||DTLA Union Station thru Hollywood to Beverly Hills terminating at the under construction Purple Line Century City Station. Stops in or near Silver Lake, Dodger Stadium, Echo Park, West Hollywood and Century City. Mostly a Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard east/west route. Possibly using the already built HRT Red Line tracks thru Hollywood or the LRT Crenshaw/LAX line under consideration in West Hollywood. East of Union Station would head to the City of La Puente or El Monte, CA. With possible stops in East L.A., Cal State LA, San Gabriel and Baldwin Hills. No LPAs listed. No funds available. Listed as one of several "Strategic Unfunded Plan" project in the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan, Tier 2. Eastside route met by new Eastside Transit Corridor options along The 60 Freeway.||Silver Line website (archived), The Transit Coalition website.|
|Harbor Line||Light rail line to connect harbor area (San Pedro) to Metro Blue Line or Green Line. Floated in LA City Council motions and Metro Harbor Subdivision studies. A further southward extension to the Green Line is included as a Tier 1 Strategic Unfunded Plan project in the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan. Other plans could lead to the Silver Line being converted to rail.||Citizens for a Harbor Line (blog)|
Media related to LACMTA Metro Rail at Wikimedia Commons