Overcrowded Trains Are a New Thing for L.A., but Metro Is on It

L.A.'s hottest new club is ... this Expo Line train car.EXPAND
L.A.'s hottest new club is ... this Expo Line train car.
Joe Lemon/Metro

They built it. You came.

The Expo Line, which in May expanded to stretch to the beach, is the hottest ticket in town. Weekday ridership on the entire line from downtown to Santa Monica has exploded nearly 50 percent since June 2014, according to Metro data.

All the cool kids are doing it. And that was the point — to get people out of their environmentally taxing cars and into the ride-sharing system we call public transportation.

But as Curbed L.A. put it last week, "The new Expo line is almost too popular" — Los Angeles is getting a little taste of New York, Tokyo and Mexico City. And Angelenos haven't been too happy about it. We're used to having more personal space.

This week, Metro announced plans to double up the train schedule so passengers can be picked up and dropped off every six minutes, rather than 12. The caveat here is that the accelerated stops won't start until December.

The system also plans to deploy more train cars, but that also takes time. Its train car fleet has been "stretched thin" thanks to the collapse of a 2009 deal that would have seen Metro purchase 100 brand-new rail cars from the Italian engineering firm AnsaldoBreda. That setback required Metro to begin the red-tape-burdened purchasing process anew, leaving us with fewer cars than we need at a time when Angelenos are understandably eager to take the train to the beach.

Metro says it will start to deploy three-car trains instead two-car runs as car maker Kinkisharyo delivers. An order of 78 cars is expected to be completed and in hand early next year, it said.

The Gold Line, which has suffered from some overcrowding, also will benefit from the car deliveries, which reportedly are coming in increments of four per month, Metro has said.

Until then, hold tight and keep your hands to yourself. Or do what most public transportation users in L.A. do and seek out your nearest bus. It's not as cool, but it will get you there.


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