Surprising Ridership Data on Los Angeles Metro's New Expo Line Extension

The light rail extension opened May 20 and is already 70 percent toward meeting its 2030 ridership projection. According to a survey conducted in June by Metro, more than two-thirds of riders were new to the Expo Line.

2 minute read

September 19, 2016, 6:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Garcetti Expo Line

Eric Garcetti / Flickr

As posted in June, ridership is soaring on Metro's two new light rail line extensions on the Gold and Expo lines. A survey of 1,000 riders that Metro conducted in June on Expo Phase 2, i.e., the new, 6.6-mile, seven-station extension from Culver City Station to Downtown Santa Monica Station, was posted in Metro's transit blog, The Source, on Sept. 12.

Phase 2 includes new stations at:

      1. Palms
      2. Westwood/Rancho Park
      3. Expo/Sepulveda
      4. Expo/Bundy
      5. 26th St./Bergamot
      6. 17th St./SMC
      7. Downtown Santa Monica

Metro found 70 percent of riders between Culver City and Santa Monica "were new to the Expo Line," reports Meghan McCarty who covers commuting and mobility issues for KPCC, Southern California Public Radio. "Of the new riders, nearly half used to drive alone while 23 percent had switched from bus service."

Light rail cars needed, not more parking spaces for motor vehicles

All that early talk about insufficient parking at stations that caused neighbors to fear an inundation of commuters parking on residential streets proved to be unfounded, at least for now. Judging from how new riders are accessing the stations, according to the survey, crowded sidewalks and bike lanes may be more of a concern.

Credit: Metro via The Source

However, "[r]iders who access the Expo Line by driving alone to stations do so at a higher rate, 16 percent, compared to Metro riders as a whole at 5 percent," adds McCarty, though they "have not overwhelmed the three new parking lots along the line.  Metro reported in July the new lots are only 30 to 50 percent full on most days."

What's plaguing Metro is not a shortage of parking spots but a shortage of cars, light rail cars, that is, on the Expo Line, "due to manufacturing delays," reports McCarty.

But officials have promised that enough new cars will be in service by December to allow trains to run every six minutes during peak hours. They now run about every 12 minutes or more.

"Seasoned riders and transit newcomers have griped about cars so jammed during peak hours that there is no room for bicycles, wheelchairs or, at some stations, any more passengers," reported Laura J. Nelson for the Los Angeles Times. Nelson explains what went wrong, with Metro first ordering rail cars from AnsaldoBreda, an Italian firm, then Osaka-based Kinkisharyo International, to be manufactured in Palmdale

Hat tip to Mike Bullock.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 in KPCC

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

7 hours ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

June 17 - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

June 17 -

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.