The Los Angeles Metro opened its long-awaited Expo Line extension on Friday, connecting downtown Los Angeles directly to the beachfront via rail for the first time in decades.
Crowds gathered in a festive atmosphere in downtown Santa Monica for the opening of the new line. Passengers were allowed to ride free in honor of the occasion. As a result, lines formed outside the station, but police and rail employees kept foot traffic moving, and trains appeared to be running on schedule.
Demand — and curiosity — was high, with passengers taking videos and selfies as the yellow-and-grey train cars pulled into the new stations. Most passengers seemed to be arriving from downtown Los Angeles, but plenty took the opportunity to travel in the other direction.
— Metro (@metrolosangeles) May 20, 2016
The terminus of the new line sits at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue — just three blocks from the coast and the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Outside the station, colorfully-patterned, newly-laid sidewalks lined the downtown shopping district, near the Third Street Promenade.
The extension links up with the existing Expo Line, which previously ran from downtown L.A. to Culver City, past the University of Southern California.
Part of the line runs past Interstate 10, which was jammed — as usual — with Friday afternoon traffic. However, it is unlikely many Angelenos will be giving up their cars for train passes anytime soon. Local officials are still working on the “last-mile problem” — the relative lack of public transportation options connecting commuters with their workplaces and homes.
The expansion was partly funded by Los Angeles County taxpayers under Measure R, which was passed by local voters in 2008, and increased sales taxes by one half go one percent for thirty years. An extension of the tax hike, known as Measure J, failed to win a two-thirds majority in 2012.
Free service on the Expo Line runs through Saturday.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.