The Los Angeles Metro Subway

Jun 07, 2009 by Lisa Newton

Metro Monday

Because I took the Los Angeles Subway home after finishing my Downtown walking tour, I thought it would make for a great story for today’s Metro Monday. Along with over 200 bus lines, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has four Metro Rail Lines.

Los Angeles Metro Subway Background

With about 14 million people in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, it is world known as being one of the most traffic-congested cities in the country. To confront that reality, voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase in the 1980’s to build a network of metro and light rail lines.

Los Angeles first fully 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 now runs from downtown Los Angeles, west to Hollywood and then north to North Hollywood– after a $1.5 billion, 3-mile twin tunnel extension in 2000; and the Purple Line runs along Wilshire Boulevard to Koreatown.

By mid 2008, the combined Red and Purple lines averaged a weekday ridership of 153,928; making the Los Angeles Metro Subway the ninth busiest rapid transit system in the United States.

Each individual underground station differs aesthetically, 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 a magnitude of 7.5.

A Primer about how to Ride the Subway

If you’re new to the Metro system, virtual tours of the subway might be the way to go. I tend to learn by doing, plus I’m a veteran of the DC Metro system; but I understand how others might either be a tad nervous because they never rode the subway before, so it’s useful to be sure. To get you started, here’s the map:

LA Subway Map

Click here to see the full sized map

The ride was comfortable, quick, and easy; and the train was clean. For my second subway ride in LA, I couldn’t have been happier. Although the ride was a short one, over the next several months, I plan on visiting the rainbow of Metro’s rail lines while I’m Travelin’ Local.

When Travelin’ Local around here, it’s not only cool to take the Metro, it’s trendy to know all of your transportation options.

With the advent of high-speed rail and the reengineering of more city-friendly urban areas, we’re living and participating in both the historical and sweeping changes in our travel infrastructure during our own lifetimes.

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18 Responses to “The Los Angeles Metro Subway”

  1. Betsy Wuebker says:

    It would have made a world of difference to have this transportation option when I lived in L.A.! Fascinating!

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..FROM THE ROAD: INTO THE YUKON


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Betsy Wuebker, The Metro is a great addition, and based on Aaron’s comment, it’s getting better. I can hardly wait to do the “rainbow” tour.


  2. David says:

    Great reporting and story. I wasn’t fully cognizant how far and how fast the Metro has grown in size, efficiency, affordability, and along with their array of transportation options.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @David, Thanks, David. For only $1.25, the Metro is accessible to almost everyone, and combining the subwary with the bus is even better.


  3. Diane C. says:

    The Los Angeles Metro Subway looks fantastic! I would have loved to explore LA via subway. I lived in the valley in West Hills not far from the Warner Center.

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Saguaro Fruit Ripen


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Diane C., Diane, if you ever want to come to LA for a visit, I’d love to have lunch and compare notes on your LA and mine. I’d love learning how it was, back in the day…………:)


  4. Paisley (Paisley Thoughts) says:

    All I can say is – this is so advanced. What a pleasure to have this high level of public transportation – fabulous.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)’s last blog post..What Makes Review Writing Ethical? A Real Experience


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Paisley (Paisley Thoughts), I agree, LA is good, but coming from DC, LA is still growing. It will take some time, but with any luck at all, LA will catch up to a few of the other major Metro players.


  5. Aaron says:

    Metro’s new Gold Line Eastside Extension opens this June 26th.

    The line adds Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles to the Metro system.

    Also, a line to Culver City (via Downtown, USC and Crenshaw district) opens next year, with an extension to Santa Monica to start construction shortly thereafter.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Aaron, Aaron, thanks for the heads up. Living in West LA, I can really use the Culver City info, plus the extension to Santa Monica is a welcome addition. I’ve been reading about it, especially as it relates to the biking issue. Are they planning any events when the new Gold Line Extension opens?


    Aaron Reply:

    @LisaNewton, I’m sure there are events but I’ll have to get back to you on what they are for sure. To be honest, I think Metro may be looking at postponing the opening a week or two. I traveled the route recently and while most of the stations are looking great, they’re still doing last-minute stuff.

    I’d really like a streetcar down Sunset from Union Station all the way to UCLA, and another line up Glendale Boulevard… a guy can dream right?


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Aaron, Dreams work for me. I’m still hoping that the city finally gets the bike sharrows started that they’ve promised.

    I’ll have to take a look at the new route, and if you find out any more info about the opening of the new line, I’d love to hear about it. :)

  6. Fallopia Simms says:

    Technically LA has 6 lines with one under construction. They are the Red(Heavy Rail subway), Purple(Heavy Rail subway), Gold (Light Rail to Pasadena), Green(Light Rail from Norwalk to Redondo Beach), Blue(Light Rail to Long Beach)and the under construction “Expo” or Aqua (Light Rail Phase I to Culver City).
    LA is coming along over the 5-6 years has really beefed up its Rapid Bus service that has limited stops and that usually connects you in some fashion to the extended rail system. I recently went car-free.
    This is a great time to live in LA!


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Fallopia Simms, Thanks for the clarification. I am aware of the Expo line, which I”m really looking forward to.

    I”m a big fan of the Rapid System. In fact, when I was waiting for the 704 bus on Olympic, a 4 came first and I skipped boarding it, wanting to take the 704. I waited about 15 minutes for the next bus to come, and sure enough, we ended up passing the 4 which I could have boarded earlier.

    Congrats on going car-free!!


  7. Lisa's Chaos says:

    I always think these are cool! But this comes from a hillbilly. :) Pretty neat!

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Ring Billed Gull babies


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Lisa’s Chaos, If you ever visit the big city, I’d love to ride the subway with you………:)


  8. la metro | Latest Information says:

    [...] With about 14 million people in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, it is world known as being one of the most traffic-congested cities in the country. To confront that reality, voters approved a half-cent sales tax increRead more at [...]

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