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

Chicago Intercity Rail

Amtrak Ramping Up Infrastructure Projects

Thanks to federal funding from the 2021 infrastructure act, the agency plans to triple its investment in infrastructure improvements and new routes in the next two years.

September 25, 2023 - Smart Cities Dive

View of Interstate 205 bridge over Columbia River with Mt. Hood in background.

The Unceremonious Death of a Freeway Expansion Project

The end of an Oregon freeway project didn't get much fanfare, but the victory is worth celebrating.

September 19, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

Google maps street view of San Francisco alleyway.

Ending Downtown San Francisco’s ‘Doom Loop’

A new public space project offers an ambitious vision—so why is the city implementing it at such a small scale?

September 26, 2023 - Fast Company

Aerial view of coastal development and bright blue ocean in Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Kaua’i County Uses Long-Range Models to Mandate Resiliency Standards

The county requires builders to assess potential flood risks using models that account for sea level rise projected as far out as 2100.

September 28 - Smart Cities Dive

Semi truck driving down freeway with twilight sky in background.

California Governor Vetoes Autonomous Truck Ban

Gov. Newsom called the new law unnecessary, citing existing efforts by state regulators to develop new rules around autonomous trucking.

September 28 - Wired

Roadside motel with turquoise room doors in Tucumcari, New Mexico.

Low-Barrier Motel Shelter Is a Success—But Not an Easy One

Many guests at Motels4Now are on their second or third stays—but staff say that's doesn't equal failure, and the numbers bear that out.

September 28 - Shelterforce Magazine

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.