An Expert Los Angeles Commuter's Review and Insight of The Much Anticipated Expo Line to Culver City

One of the Trains on the Exposition Line
One of the Trains on the Exposition Line | Source
Source
A rider from one of the two newly opened stations navigates Metro Center with his parrot.
A rider from one of the two newly opened stations navigates Metro Center with his parrot. | Source
One of the west most locations of Popeye's can be seen from the Expo Line rail at La Brea/Exposition Blvd.
One of the west most locations of Popeye's can be seen from the Expo Line rail at La Brea/Exposition Blvd. | Source

I missed the grand opening of the Exposition Line on April 28-29, 2012; however, I told myself that I wouldn't miss the grand opening of the remaining two Exposition Line, Farmdale and Culver City on June 20, 2012. The reason is that I wanted to experience the complete rail to the end of Phase 1 of the Exposition Line. Phase 2 picks up from Culver City after Robertson/National/Exposition and will reach Santa Monica beach in 2015.

I read as many articles on the Exposition Line, but none really explained the ride from a commuter's perspective. What came close was the Los Angeles Time's 360 degree Virtual Tour at the Culver City Station. So, there is so much information to impart.

The Exposition Line starts from Metro Center, which has 2 entrances. One is at 677 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, California, and the other exits near 7th and Figueroa Street. I took the Hope Street entrance, and after descending one level, I went through the gate. I didn't have to purchase a rail ticket because I am a holder of the EZ Pass, which enables me to take 12 buses in Los Angeles and the rail. Although my EZ Pass has a one zone sticker allowing freeway travel, a regular EZ Pass would do. The Los Angeles Metro rail system is on an honor system, and there is a large fine if one of the patrolling officers ask for your ticket and you did not have one. Interestingly, on the momentous grand opening of the entire Phase 1 of the Exposition Line, there were more foot patrol officers than usual. I quickly retrieved my EZ pass, and the two quickly completed the two connected cars and ticketed a few passengers, even though free commemorative tickets were given out readily at Culver City and Farmdale stations.

At Metro Center, the Expo Line is on the same level as the Blue Line to Long Beach. However, from the Hope entrance, one has to climb a set of stairs in order to reach the other side called Platform 2. Platform 1 is for the Blue Line heading into downtown Los Angeles. Platform 2 services trains for both the Blue and Expo Lines leaving the city. One could descend from the Blue Line/Expo Line level to the Red/Purple Line platform and the climb the stairs to reach Platform 2, but since I was already near the edge of Platform 1, the Metro employee directed me to cross over the rails. And, there were temporary signs that directed Expo Line riders to go over the Platforms rather than under.

The one real confusion as a "LaCienega" train arrived was not knowing whether the train would stop at LaCienega or the very last stop at Culver City. With much anticipation, I also learned that the automatic announcements were not updated since the new stations had only opened three hours earlier. Nevertheless, it was going toward the right direction, heading West.

The one thing I noticed was that unlike the Red and Purple Line that ran underground for the most part, the Expo Line quickly surfaced near Staple Center. While the train was on the street level, it had to stop at every red light like cars. It took nearly 15 minutes to reach the outskirt of downtown Los Angeles. There was no way around it until it went into a ditch near USC and then slightly above ground afterwards until somewhere near La Brea where the stations are now one story above street level. It took more than half an hour to reach the end of the line at Culver City.

I was surprised that the transfer to Santa Monica 5 was quite problematic. First of all, the stairs nearest to Washington Blvd. had a Commuter Express 437 bus stop only. In order to reach the Big Blue Bus stop for its #5 route to Santa Monica via Century City or its #12 route to UCLA via Westwood Blvd., one had to cross a large parking lot to wait near Venice and Exposition or on Robertson between Venice and Washington. Both are very far from the station's stairs to the train platform. The Robertson location has a fence that closed off any shortcuts. The bottomline is that it is convenient if you park and ride, but not if you need to take a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. On this first trip, I took the #5 bus, and with the additional wait where a driver took her break, I had to wait for another one. It took nearly one hour and 45 minutes from downtown to a few blocks west of Century City. If I had waited until the first 431 Commuter Express came by at 4:30 P.M., it would have been a 30-minute ride or 40 minutes from door to door and with less frustration. I also wonder how safe that area will be either in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. There was no security in the parking lot, and anyone can be sitting in his or her parked vehicle in an open parking lot.

So, I wonder who will benefit from the Expo Line. Had I taken the Purple Line from Metro Center, I would have ascended at Western and caught a Metro Red Rapid #720 that runs along Wilshire Blvd. I would not be close to home, but it would take less than an hour to reach my neighborhood during the rush hour, and I would have my husband come pick me up or catch a transfer at Santa Monica Blvd. and Wilshire and reached Beverly Glen Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd. and then walked home. I am happy for those who can truly benefit from the Expo Line, and now I am not as eager to see the completion of Phase 2 of the Expo Line. Judging how long the rail ride was just to reach Culver City, I could have reach Santa Monica by taking #720 directly from downtown or via the Purple Line and then #720. The Westside Pavilion station will still be a distance from my home, and it would never beat the time on the #431 Commuter Express. Conceptually the rail toward Santa Monica is a great idea, but I do not think that it lives up to my expectation. Nobody chooses to add time and frustration to one's daily commuter if one can help it.

From LaCienega to Culver City facing North

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Comments 2 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I would love to visit this some day. It certainly adds an interest to the city. It looks like it would be a very enjoyable ride.


formosangirl profile image

formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles Author

The Metro Rail is great for tourists, but I don't see too many tourists using it. The Expo Line goes further south and more west than the other Westside rail, the Purple Line. It will be exciting to see the Expo Line reach Santa Monica.

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