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Trains To Roll Into Santa Monica For First Time In 50 Years On May 20

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

February 26, 2016 -- Ready or not, the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Expo Light Rail Line, a historic passenger train link to Los Angeles, will start rolling into the Beach City on Friday, May 20, Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vazquez announced Thursday.

Much anticipated by fans of alternatives to the 405 Freeway, the $1.5 billion, 6.6-mile route's opening completes the second and final phase of Metro's Expo Light line. It runs through Culver City and into Downtown Los Angeles, making it the first time that a passenger train has gone that far west in the L.A. area since the early 1950s, officials said.

“This is twenty years in the making and brings a huge community benefit to Santa Monica and Los Angeles,” said Mayor Tony Vazquez. “In just 50 minutes -- even during rush hour -- we will be able to travel to and from downtown L.A without a car.”

Expo's arrival in Santa Monica this May also adds another link in Metro's integrated rail transit scheme for the county. In Los Angeles, the Expo route links into the Red Line, traveling on to Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

Expo trains can also take passengers to Long Beach via the route's link to the Blue Line.

Expo trains will run every 20 minutes, starting at 4 a.m. and ending around midnight on weekdays, and until 2 a.m. on weekends, said Metro officials.

Trains will make stops at three stations in Santa Monica: at 26th Street and Bergamot; 17th Street at Santa Monica College; and Downtown Santa Monica at 4th Street and Colorado.

The regular adult fare is $1.75 and includes two hours of free transfers. Passengers can ride the train between Santa Monica and destinations such as downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena and Hollywood for a $1.75. Discounts for seniors and students will be announced later, said Metro officials.

“Expo opening in Santa Monica is the most significant step forward for mobility in our community since the opening of the I-10 freeway,” said Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole. “This system opens a new realm of choices for how residents, employees, students and visitors move around our city and the region.”

The Expo line has been the focus of millions of dollars of preparations, from new signs and foot traffic schemes aimed at smoothly moving pedestrians to and from stations to link-ups with Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus service and its new Breeze bike share system.

Ensuring passenger safety and security have been among the top priorities for City officials.

As early as last March, Santa Monica police began working with the administrators at the county Sheriff's Department's Metro Transit Services Bureau on security concerns for the new system. Sheriff's deputies provide security for Metro's rail system (Santa Monica Police Gear Up For Expo Line's 'Challenges,' March 3, 2015).

After a train derailed when it struck a truck making an illegal left turn at 7th and Colorado in December, the Expo lines first train collision in the City, City Council members voted to install security fencing along Colorado between 15th Court and 7th Street, along the center of the guideway, between the two sets tracks (Santa Monica Will Add Fencing Around Expo Rail Tracks, December 18, 2015).

Officials also approved installing pedestrian sidewalk guardrails along Colorado between 7th and 5th streets.

Santa Monica also has worked to improve the “first and last-mile connections,” to the train.

“Riding the train will be great, if you can get to and from the train,” Cole said in December. “There are a lot of options, including taxis, to get people to and from the Expo Line.”

Cole also said officials were making big plans for the Expo's opening day, which he said would include a public safety awareness campaign (Ensuring Public Safety Number One Priority When Expo Trains Arrive, Santa Monica Manager Says, December 1, 2015).

“Obviously, our emphasis will be on education, but in order to protect people's lives when the trains begin running, seriously, we're going to have to be very vigilant to enforce the law and to protect people's safety, both on the train and on the streets,” said Cole.

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