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Metro Blue Line (LACMTA)

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Metro Blue Line (LACMTA)

Metro Blue Line
Metro Blue Line train heading to Long Beach arrives at Willow Station.
Type Light rail
System Metro Rail
Status In service
Termini 7th Street / Metro Center
Downtown Long Beach Station
Stations 22
Daily ridership 87,597 average weekday daily boardings (July 2013)[1]
Line number 801
Website Blue Line
Opening July 14, 1990
Operator(s) LAMetroLogo.svg Metro (LACMTA)
Character Mostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections.
Depot(s) Division 11 (Long Beach)
Rolling stock Nippon Sharyo P865 and P2020
Siemens P2000
Line length 22.0 mi (35.4 km)
Track length three cars
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge
Electrification 750 V DC overhead catenary
Route map

The Blue Line is a light rail line running north-south route between Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles passing through Downtown LA, South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, and Long Beach in Los Angeles County; it is one of six lines in the Metro Rail System. Opened in 1990, it is the oldest and second busiest line in the system with an estimated 26.26 million boardings per year.[2] The proposed Regional Connector would link it to Union Station. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Blue Line passes near to the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers can be seen from the train near 103rd Street station.

Service description


The Metro Blue line runs between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach. The line starts at 7th Street / Metro Center from there it runs south down Flower Street, sharing tracks with the Expo Line. Passengers can connect to the Metro Silver Line bus rapid transit line at 7th Street Metro Center and Pico Boulevard Stations. The two lines diverge at Flower street and Washington Boulevard just south of Downtown Los Angeles. Here the Blue Line turns east on Washington Boulevard before turning south on Long Beach Avenue to join the Pacific Electric four track right-of-way to Willow Station which runs as far as Long Beach where the line follows Long Beach Boulevard to the Long Beach Transit Mall, which is a loop involving Long Beach Boulevard, 1st Street, Pacific Avenue and 8th Street. There are some elevated structures and stations just south of Downtown and a brief tunneled section in Downtown Los Angeles. It connects with the Metro Green Line at Willowbrook station.

During peak hours, every other train serves only the stations between Willow and 7th Street / Metro Center to increase the headway on that portion of the route. Willow was chosen because of its proximity to the Blue Line storage yard and because it is the last Outbound station with a Park and Ride lot. In the afternoon/evening rush, riders will see some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach." Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach must exit at Willow and wait for the next train which will terminate at Downtown Long Beach.


The Blue Line was originally projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000. Within the first months of service, daily ridership had reached 12,000, and by the end of the first year of service, daily ridership was at 32,000.

As of July 2011, Metro estimated that the Blue Line had over 90,000 average weekday boardings, and 26.26 million yearly boardings. The line is 22 miles (35 km) long, with 22 stations. There are 69 cars in the fleet.[2]


The original 'red line' streetcar line service on the route, which was operated by Pacific Electric Railway, began service in 1902. In 1958 the remains of the then troubled Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway systems were taken over by the original Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and the line was soon converted to bus operation in 1961. The transit authority was then taken over by the Southern California Rapid Transit District in 1964.

The current line opened in 1990 at a cost of US$877 million. Design and construction was managed by the Rail Construction Corporation, now a subsidiary of the new Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro)[3] which was formed in 1993 by a merger of the Southern California Rapid Transit District and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission.

It was planned that the current line would continue to Union Station but work on this project was halted indefinitely after the 1998 county ballot was approved which banned the use of existing sales tax revenue for subway projects. Work began on a section to Pasadena in 1998 but this was also suspended following the ballot. Adam Schiff subsequently authored a bill that created a separate authority to continue work on the Pasadena section, construction began again in 2000 and on opening it was branded as the Gold Line since there was no direct connection between its starting point at Union Station and the Blue Line. There are current proposals to join these two lines by building 'Regional Connector tunnel' between the 7th Street station terminus of the blue line and Little Tokyo/Arts District station on the now extended Gold Line.

The line was originally operated by two-car trains, but proved more popular than expected and 19 platforms were lengthened to accommodate three-car trains in 2000-2001 at a cost of US $11 million. These 'three car trains' are actually articulated double rail cars, meaning an effective six car train.

In 2006, the Metro Blue Line began using automated stop announcements after the Metro Green and Gold Lines had automated stop announcements since 2004. The announcements do not have the same voice as the Siemens trains operated on the Metro Green and Gold Lines but is the same voice as the one that can be heard on the AnsaldoBreda trains of the Metro Red/Purple Lines and Gold Line.

In 2007, many Metro Blue Line intersections went through track repairs, taking place from Friday evenings to Sunday evenings. Both tracks would go out of service and passengers would have to board buses to get around the construction areas. Since July 2007, most of the intersections that were repaired were between the Willowbrook and Compton Stations.[4]

Construction of the new Metro Expo Line which links with the Blue Line at 7th Street started in 2006[5] and entered service on April 28, 2012.[6]

On December 13, 2009, Metro Silver Line, Metro's second Metro Transitway (bus rapid transit) line began service between the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, Downtown Los Angeles and El Monte Station. Unlike the Blue Line, the Silver Line charges extra since the line runs on the I-110 freeway. The distance between the Metro Blue Line and the Metro Silver Line is roughly 3-4 miles apart. Some Blue Line passengers have switched to the Metro Silver Line as an alternative. When the Blue Line experiences technical delays and problems, Metro temporary removes the extra charge on the Silver Line so that passengers can use the Metro Silver Line when the Blue Line experiences technical issues. Ridership has increased on the Metro Silver Line since its opening, but not enough to relief the Blue Line's ridership.

Proposed developments

Regional Connector (extension into Downtown Los Angeles)

Metro is currently planning the Regional Connector, a subway project in Downtown Los Angeles that would connect the Blue and Expo Lines to the Gold Line. When this project is completed, Blue Line trains will be able to pass through Downtown to the City of Azusa.

Currently, to reach Union Station, passengers must transfer to the Red or Purple line from 7th street Metro Center; yet, once the Regional Connector project is completed, the Blue Line will be able to travel to Azusa, while the Gold line will be able to travel to Santa Monica, because the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line and Phase II of the Expo line to Santa Monica are expected to be already completed by the time the connector is open for service.

Current issues

Capacity limits

The line is often operating at capacity and various options to increase capacity had been considered. Four-car trains or more frequent trains — both have problems; it will be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms and the number of trains is already causing delays for other vehicles at level crossings. As such, Blue Line ridership may not be able to increase without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation or by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway" or building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the Blue Line. If the planned Regional Connector project linking Blue and Expo Line tracks with the Gold Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed (currently in the planning stages), this may result in even more capacity problems with the ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.

Safety at level crossings

Over 100 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at Blue Line level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 collisions,[7] making the line by multiples the deadliest and most collision-prone rail line in the country.[8]

In 1998, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. was commissioned by MTA to evaluate the cause of Blue Line collisions and make recommendations for fiscally realistic mitigation measures. The study reported that the high ridership (over 70,000 per day) was a contributor:

"The MBL has one of the highest ridership counts for light rail lines in the Country. This factor is perhaps the most important contributor to the grade crossing accident rate. The high ridership results in increased pedestrian traffic near stations as compared to other light rail systems. In addition, although MTA Operations does not allow high passenger loads dictate safe operations, there is pressure to maintain travel times and headway schedule requirements (e.g., passenger trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach in less than one hour)."

Other identified contributing factors were the high population density area that leads to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that create literacy and language challenges to public education campaigns, driver frustration due to the slow traffic speeds around the line that leads to more risk taking behavior, and the shared right-of-way with freight track in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (88 km/h) between stations.

The collision rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the Blue Line shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Washington station and Del Amo station. The gates effectively prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras are used along some problem intersections which issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates. Yet, collisions and deaths still occur at a rate significantly higher rates than comparable lines. On May 9, 2006, a Blue Line train hits a car on Washington Blvd at San Pedro Street. On December 22, 2006, a Metro Blue Line train crashed into a fire truck. The fire truck was on its way to an emergency. On January 26, 2007, a 14-year old boy named Lavert Baker, Jr. was killed on his way walking home from school by a Blue Line train that was carrying his closest sister.[9]

However, four-quadrant gates are not a feasible mitigation option in the most collision-prone section of the line from Pico station to Washington station and from Willow station to Pacific station. On May 16, 2007, a teenage girl, who was reportedly talking on her cell phone, was killed by a Blue Line train when crossing the tracks without looking both directions.

Station listing

The following is the complete list of stations, from north to south.

Station Connections/Notes Date opened City
7th Street / Metro Center           Metro Red Line  
Metro Purple Line  
Metro Expo Line  
Metro Silver Line  
Metro Local: 14, 16, 18, 20, 37, 51, 52, 53, 55, 60, 62, 66, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 96, 316, 352, 355, 378
Metro Express: 442, 450, 460, 487, 489
Metro Rapid: 720, 760, 770
Antelope Valley Transit Authority: 785*
City of Santa Clarita Transit: 799*
Foothill Transit: 481*, 493*, 497*, 498*, 499*, 699*, Silver Streak
LADOT Commuter Express*: 409, 422, 423, 430, 431, 437, 438, 448, 534
LADOT DASH: A, B, C (weekdays only), DD (weekends only), E, F
Montebello Transit: 40, 50, 341*, 342*, 343*
Orange County Transportation Authority: 701*, 721*
Santa Monica Transit: 10
Torrance Transit: 1, 2

"*:Indicates commuter service that operates only during weekday rush hours.

February 15, 1991 Downtown Los Angeles
Pico       Metro Expo Line  
Metro Silver Line  
Metro Local: 30, 81, 442, 460
LADOT Commuter Express: 419, 422, 423, 438, 448
July 14, 1990
Grand   Metro Local: 14, 35, 37, 38, 55, 355, 603
LADOT DASH: D, Pico Union/Echo Park
Torrance Transit: 1, 2
July 14, 1990
San Pedro   Metro Local: 51, 52, 352
LADOT DASH: E, King-East
Montebello Bus Lines: 50
July 14, 1990
Washington   Montebello Bus Lines: 50 July 14, 1990 Los Angeles
Vernon   Metro Local: 105
Metro Rapid: 705
LADOT DASH: Pueblo Del Rio, Southeast
July 14, 1990 South Los Angeles
Slauson station   Metro Local: 108, 358
LADOT DASH: Pueblo Del Rio
July 14, 1990
Florence   Metro Local: 102, 110, 111, 311, 611
LADOT DASH: Chesterfield Square
July 14, 1990 Florence
Firestone   Metro Local: 55, 115, 254, 355 July 14, 1990
103rd Street / Watts Towers   Metro Local: 117, 254, 612
July 14, 1990 Watts
Willowbrook     Metro Green Line  
Metro Local: 55, 120, 202, 205, 355, 612
Gardena Transit: 5
Hahn's Trolley and Shuttle: 1, 2, 3
Lynwood Trolley Route: D
July 14, 1990 Willowbrook
Compton   Metro Local: 51, 60 (Owl Service Only), 127, 128, 202
CCompton Renaissance Transit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Gardena Transit: 3
Greyhound Lines
July 14, 1990 Compton
Artesia   Metro Local: 60, 130, 202, 205, 260
Metro Rapid: 762
Long Beach Transit: 51, 61
Compton Renaissance Transit: 5
Torrance Transit: 6
July 14, 1990
Del Amo   Metro Local: 202
Carson Circuit Transit System: D, G
Long Beach Transit: 191, 192, 193
July 14, 1990 Carson
Wardlow   Long Beach Transit: 1, 131, 181, 182 July 14, 1990 Long Beach
Willow   Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only)
Long Beach Transit: 51, 101, 102, 103
July 14, 1990
Pacific Coast Highway   Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only)
Long Beach Transit: 1, 51, 171, 172, 173, 174
July 14, 1990
Anaheim Street   Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232
Long Beach Transit: 1, 45, 46, 51
July 14, 1990
5th Street   (southbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 September 1990
1st Street   (southbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 September 1990
Downtown Long Beach   (northbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232
Long Beach Transit: 1, 21, 22, 23, 46, 51, 61, 63, 71, 72, 81, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 111, 112, 172, 173, 174, 181, 182, 191, 192, Passport A, B, C, D
Commuter Express: 142
Torrance Transit: 3
September 1990
Pacific  (northbound only) Commuter Express: 142 September 1990


On Metro Rail Operations' internal timetables, the Blue Line is called line 801.

Maintenance facilities

The Blue Line is operated out of the Division 11 Yard (208th Street Yard) located at 4170 East 208th Street. This yard stores the fleet used on the Blue Line. It is also where Heavy maintenance is done on the fleet. The Yard is located between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. Trains get to this yard via a Wye Junction on the southbound tracks. Northbound trains can enter and exit the yard via the cross tracks on the North and South side of the Junction.

Rolling stock

The Blue line uses cars from the Nippon Sharyo company. Although three-car lengths are the norm due to high ridership, some two-car pairs are used late nights and weekend mornings.

When the Blue Line opened, the line originally had 54 cars (P865; 100-153). In 2000, the Blue Line added 15 cars (P2020; 154-168) from the Metro Green Line after the Green Line began using Siemens P2000 cars. [10] The Blue Line currently has 69 train cars in their fleet.

Currently, 67 cars are in the Yellow/White livery. Past livery was sky/light/dark blue and red lines on white. In 2000, train cars 109 and 148 were painted Red to celebrate an anniversary of the Pacific Electric Railway. These red painted cars were repainted to the sleek silver livery, similar to the 700-750 series cars, but in 2008, Cars 109 and 148 were repainted to match most of the fleet. [11] Also, car 105 is in current livery, but is all white with black lettering, similar to Metro Gold Line car 302

The Blue Line will initially use both Nippon Sharyo P865 & P2020 and Siemens P2000 trains, and will work both Blue & Expo lines.

Blue Line vehicles are maintained and stored at the Division 11 yard in Long Beach between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. This facility has capacity for storing and maintaining 86 light rail cars.


  • In September 2008 a Blue Line train struck a M.T.A bus on one of the tracks; 15 people were injured. A mechanic was taking the bus on a test run and was not injured.[12] This incident happened only one week after the 2008 Chatsworth train collision in which 25 people died following a head-on collision between a Metrolink train and a freight train.
  • In July 2009 a man was killed by a Metro Blue Line train south of Artesia Station. The cause of the collision is unknown.
  • In November 2009 a woman was struck and killed by a train near the Willowbrook station.
  • In December 2009, a 65 year-old man was struck and killed by an oncoming train at the intersection of Long Beach Avenue and Vernon Avenue as the train was approaching Vernon station.
  • In January 2010, an automobile collided with a Blue Line train at Washington and Olive.
  • In July 2010, a Blue Line train which reportedly ran a red light struck a Police Cruiser on 16th Street & Long Beach Boulevard.[13]
  • In the same month eight people were injured, six of whom were aboard the bus when a Blue Line train collided with another M.T.A bus at Broadway and Washington Boulevard.[14]

In popular culture


External links

  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • Blue Line homepage
  • Blue Line schedule
  • Blue Line connections overview
  • A History of the Blue Line: A Light Rail Success Story by the Transit Coalition
  • LA Weekly
  • Delivery of The First Metro Blue Line Vehicle
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