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Delayed by Blue or Expo Line this morning and need delay verification for work/school? Call Metro Customer Care at… https://t.co/9cV0pcIUhW

BLUE LINE: Trains resuming normal service with up to 15 min residual delays thru 9:30am; earlier issue now clear. https://t.co/mldyTXRa2P

@ixioff hi, very sorry for the wait. The next bus should arrive to your location within 3 min. ^LH

BLUE LINE: Up to 15 min delay northbound due to passenger disturbance near Wardlow. Trains share Long Beach-bound t… https://t.co/O2zPb2VupG

BLUE LINE: Up to 15 min delay northbound due to passenger disturbance near Wardlow Station. https://t.co/M2GYWWPQ7v

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News

@metroalerts

710 debate, Uber losses, DTLA rail: HWR, Feb. 16

Good morning everyone! If you happen to be in Cocoon Coffee in Mason, Ohio, this morning swing by my table and say hello. Attentive Source readers know that I am dry-

Sorry you got stuck in L.A. area traffic once, dude. Next time maybe give transit a whirl.

docked in the Cincinnati-area every so often due to Parental Health Problems. I try my best to carry on my Metro duties, albeit as a telecommuter.

I was just chatting with a very nice bloke at the next table who lived for a time in So Cal and was griping about the traffic in LaLa Land. The funny thing, of course: Cincy folks drive everywhere! Many ‘burbs have little to no transit, sidewalks are often missing, six- or eight-lane wide arterial roads are routine and legions of farm fields are now strip mall parking lots.

So just stop the L.A. bashing, People of Cincy. And this: I was served a plate of Mexican food last night that could have only originated at a local dog park. Yes, that bad. 🤮

Art of Transit: I’ve been running around the past few weeks taking pics of 25-year full-timers at Metro (the agency turns 25 this year). Below are a trio of pics. See them all in this video .

Leo Noya, Bus Operator, Division 8

Darron Daniels, Service Attendant, Division 5

Brenda Harris, Stop-Zone/Metro Clean Leader, CMF

Metro staff support a $6-billion widening of the 710 Freeway (LAT)

Metro Board to vote on $6 billion lower 710 freeway widening (Streetsblog LA)

Metro moves forward with plan to widen the 710 freeway (Curbed LA)

Would widening the 710 freeway help or hurt Long Beach? (KPCC)

Minnesota passing by

Cargo containers on a ship at the Port of L.A. Much of the freight in the ports ends up trucks and many of the trucks end up on the 710. Photo by Joey Zanotti, via Flickr creative commons.

First things first — and with an eye on the Curbed LA headline: nothing has been decided on the 710 Corridor Project. The full Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on March 1 whether to make alternative 5C — which includes a widening of the freeway between Long Beach and the 60 freeway — the “preferred alternative” for the project.

Two Metro Board Committees heard testimony on the item. Neither voted. They sent the item to the full Board without a recommendation and some doubts were aired. Supervisor Janice Hahn also introduced a motion that would significantly change 5C by adding a lane for zero emission vehicles. Public testimony ran strongly against the proposal. To wit:

The nut of this debate: the 710 was not built to handle the traffic it’s carrying, including the increase in trucks from the ports. No one — at least at this time — can force all that freight onto trains, even though there’s capacity to spare (for now). New rail yards are for their own reasons also controversial. The public is asking questions about whether freeway widenings help with traffic congestion — or just attract more traffic and increase emissions. One goal of this project is to try to separate trucks from cars to increase safety and decrease accidents that tie up traffic. Another goal is to invest $100 million into putting low-emission trucks on the road.

It’s a tough piece of public policy. On the northern end of the 710 — where there is a four mile gap in the freeway — the Metro Board voted last year to stop pursuing a freeway expansion and instead invest money in local road and transit improvements. The environmental studies for the 710 south project have been underway since 2008. We’ll see what happens on March 1, 2018.

Metro discovers a better West Santa Ana branch (Red Line Reader)

The options that Metro staff propose for more technical study, including two new ones to the DTLA core and one to the Arts District.

Scott Frazier offers another thoughtful take on a Metro rail project in the works. This time it’s the Artesia-to-DTLA light rail line.

Earlier planning efforts focused on Union Station as the northern end of the line. But Metro staff this month are asking the agency’s Board to approve new options for further study that would end the line in the heart of DTLA or a new Arts District station.

Scott’s take, first on Union Station as a terminus:

Shoved in the armpit of two concrete rivers, nestled next to the largest prison complex in the entire country, Union Station will never be anything but a place to make transfers. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that transferring at the station is also fraught.

And his take on the possibility of the line running to the DTLA core:

With respect to those connections, the Downtown Transit Core 1 alternative hits all the must-haves. It connects to the Blue Line, to the subway at Pershing Square, and to the Regional Connector at Flower. It also would spread the congestion currently concentrated at 7th/Metro across three stations, helping to assure the long time stability of the downtown area transit network.

And Scott pointing the barrel of his laptop at the Metro Mothership:

This isn’t a common occurrence in Metro’s history. As planning progresses across the county, many lines (Van Nuys, Whittier, Crenshaw) are under constant threat of degrading into boondoggles hamstrung by failures to think far enough ahead. In this instance, Metro has admirably taken community feedback and turned it into an opportunity to improve a major capital project. All that remains to be seen is whether they can follow through.

One thing I’ll add about the two routes to the DTLA core. They seemingly would get southeast L.A. County residents to the DTLA job center more quickly and could also be an east-west transit solution to connect the DTLA core to the Arts/Industrial districts. We’ll see what the Metro studies find.

How $225,000 can help secure a pollution loophole at Trump’s EPA (NYT)

New truck bodies outfitted with old engines don’t have to meet the same lower emission levels as new trucks.

Proponents say the less-expensive trucks keep smaller trucking outfits competitive and preserve jobs. Opponents — including some in the trucking industry — say it’s a loophole based on shoddy science and political donations.

Bottom line: the loophole for worse or better isn’t helping air quality or public health.

Uber quarterly sales rose 61% to $2 billion amid heavy loss (Bloomberg)

Excerpt:

“Despite a turbulent year for the ride-hailing company, sales were $7.5 billion. But the company also posted a substantial loss of $4.5 billion. There are few historical precedents for the scale of its loss.”

Some of the loss involved legal expenses and other financial moves. But still. There’s no doubt the product is popular, but the question must be asked: at what point do the Ubers of the world have to raise their prices?

This is exactly why Uber and other ride-sharers are pursuing self-driving cars. Cutting the cost of drivers might help with profitability, although I have to wonder about the costs involved in acquiring and maintaining a giant fleet of robot cars. In the meantime, the Ubers of the world know that keeping fares low is popular and allows them to undercut traditional taxis.

How much are these guys hurting transit ridership? Hard to say but I think it’s among the reasons that ridership has dipped across the U.S. (and at Metro). Of course, ride sharing can’t alone be blamed for ridership: there has been much attention lately on the UCLA study that found that car ownership in our region has surged, especially among lower-income residents who formerly took transit.

@metroalerts

Photos: some of the folks that have kept Metro running for 25 years

Metro held a media event today to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the agency, which was formed in 1993 when the  RTD and the LACTC merged.

The Metro employees in the above photos are some of the workers who went full-time with the agency in ’93. To put it another way: these are folks who have kept the buses and trains running for the past quarter century.

It was great visiting so many of the divisions and meeting everyone. As for the other 10,000 or so employees Murillo and I haven’t photographed yet, we look forward to meeting you soon (we hope).

Interested in working for Metro? Start here .

Photos by Steve Hymon and Murillo Goncalves

@metroalerts

Significant work upcoming in 2019 on “The New Blue” project to modernize the Blue Line

A southbound Blue Line train in Long Beach. Photo: Steve Hymon/Metro.

Work to modernize the Blue Line — Metro’s oldest and busiest light rail line — has been underway since 2014 as part of a $1.2-billion project we’re calling “The New Blue.” The idea is to bring the Blue Line up to the specs of Metro’s more recently-built rail lines and to make it faster and more reliable.

As part of that work, there will be extended closures of parts of the Blue Line beginning in early 2019. The southern half of the line will be closed while the northern half remains open and then the northern half will be closed while the southern half resumes train service.

A variety of bus shuttles will replace rail service during the closures, including express and local bus service. There will be an extensive public outreach campaign before the closures — the reason we’re announcing them so early.

The closures are designed to get this much-needed work done as quickly as possible and have it complete by October 2019 before the Crenshaw/LAX Line opens. The alternative would be repetitive closures on the Blue Line over two to three years.

There will also be an extended closure of the Blue Line’s Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, which is being completely rebuilt with a new public plaza (including a Metro Customer Service Center), bike hub, transit court, brighter LED lighting and new bus bays. Please see the project home page for more information.

Work to be done on the Blue Line includes adding four new switches so that trains can move between tracks in more locations, signal system upgrades, improvements to the Washington-Flower junction of the Blue and Expo Line, overhead wire refurbishment, rail replacement in downtown Long Beach and power system upgrades, among other items.

The Blue Line opened in 1990 and carries more than 73,000 boardings on the average weekday, according to Metro’s ridership estimates and stretches for 22 miles between downtown Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles. A separate project, the Regional Connector, is under construction and will allow trains from Long Beach to continue traveling north beyond 7th/Metro Center through downtown Los Angeles and toward Pasadena and the Foothill Cities of the San Gabriel Valley.

The closures were announced during the Metro Board’s System Safety, Security and Operations Committee on Thursday morning. I’ll post the link to the webcast after it’s published on to the Board’s agenda page on metro.net.

@metroalerts

New northern routes to be studied for Artesia to downtown L.A. light rail project

Here are the four routes for the northern part of the line that have been under study.

And here are the route options that will be studied going forward.

A key Measure R and Measure M project is a new light rail line that would run between Artesia and downtown Los Angeles. It’s known as the West Santa Ana Branch Corridor, since some of the line would follow an old streetcar route.

The project was originally proposed as terminating at Union Station on the northern end. The Metro Board of Directors this month will consider revising the proposed routes to also study two that would terminate in the downtown Los Angeles core and another that would end at an Arts District station that would also serve the Red/Purple Line subway.

Why the change? Feedback from the public and stakeholders. There were concerns about both construction and visual impacts with the original four routes, especially in the Little Tokyo area. See the staff report .

The Metro Board of Directors will consider adding the new routes for more technical analyses at their March 1 meeting. Metro staff will return to the Board with an updated report on the different northern routes and recommendations on which ones should be carried forward into the project’s draft environmental impact statement/report.

What do you think, Source readers? Pretty interesting stuff, as the new routes could deliver riders directly into the heart of downtown L.A. and connect the DTLA core to the emerging Arts and Industrial districts.

@metroalerts

Staff recommends alternative 5C for 710 Corridor Project

View this document on Scribd

pdf here

Metro staff are recommending alternative 5C for the I-710 Corridor Project , which would widen parts of the 710 freeway between Long Beach and the 60 freeway, upgrade interchanges and construct other projects to improve traffic flow and reduce accidents between autos and trucks.

The Metro Board of Directors will consider approving 5C as the “locally preferred alternative” for the project at their next full meeting on March 1. The Board’s Ad Hoc Congestion, Highway and Roads Committee and Planning Committee will discuss the item at their meetings Wednesday. You can listen to the meetings live online — links will appear on this page . The project’s Draft Recirculated Environmental Impact/SEIS report is here. The report explains the project and its impacts in fine detail.

As South Bay and Gateway Cities residents know, the 710 is the primary north-south freeway connecting the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the rest of the region, including the railroad yards where freight is loaded on trains and shipped across the U.S. In addition to trucks —  which make up 10 percent or more of the traffic on the 710 south of the 60. The 710 also carries very heavy auto traffic.

Getting to this point has been a long-time coming: the formal studies for this project began in 2008 and early planning consumed another decade prior. The studies eventually whittled their way to two alternatives: 5C (cost: $6 billion) and the more expensive alternative 7 (cost: $10+ billion), which would have added a separate clean truck corridor adjacent to the 710.

The 5C alternative would widen the 710 to five mixed flow lanes in each direction between Long Beach and the 60 freeway. The southern part of the freeway is either three- or four-lanes wide in each direction at present.

In addition, this alternative would include improvements at the junctions with the 405 (including truck by-pass lanes), the 91 and the 5 freeways. Every local interchange would also  be upgraded. The idea is twofold: reduce conflicts between autos and trucks and reduce conflicts between traffic entering and exiting the 710 (known as “weaving”).

This alternative includes provisions for encouraging use of clean technology trucks by providing $100 million in funding to individual owner-operators and privately owned truck fleets to subsidize the purchase of heavy-duty clean trucks to be used in the 710 corridor. The project also includes upgrades to transit, sidewalks and bike paths in communities near the freeway.

Caltrans is the lead agency on the project’s environmental study and is the agency that would oversee construction. The project is expected to cost $6 billion; Measure M and other funding sources will supply about $1.3 billion in the coming years (over two project phases), according to the Measure M spending plan . Although not fully funded, there is money available for “early action projects.” Caltrans, Metro and cities along the 710 are set to meet this spring to determine which early projects to pursue.

Property acquisitions to make way for projects is always a concern. Here is that info from the project’s environmental study:

The build alternatives will not result in any relocations in the cities/communities of Boyle Heights, Cudahy, Downey, Lakewood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, Huntington Park, Wilmington, or San Pedro. According to the Relocation Impact Report (2017), within the I-710 Corridor Project Study Area, Alternative 5C would result in a total of 158 nonresidential relocations and 109 residential relocations.

As expected, a project of this size is also getting media coverage. Here is a story published by the L.A. Times today for outside perspective.