Riding the Expo Line

The Palisades News made it onto the first Metro Expo light-rail train, heading east from Santa Monica, at noon on May 20.

                After a brief stop at the elevated Bundy station, which offered a great view of Los Angeles on a brilliantly sunny day, we climbed back on the train and soon arrived in Culver City in time for a 1 p.m. lunch with friends at the Helms Bakery complex a one-block walk from the station.

                From Bundy to just before the Culver station, the train runs along the 10 Freeway, and as one looked over at the already heavy traffic, it was a relief to be in a quiet, air-conditioned train and not having to battle freeway traffic.

                The $1.5 billion, 6.6-mile Expo Line now connects downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. After six decades, train service returns to the sea. The City’s electric-powered streetcars stopped operating in the 1950s.

                Starting at Fourth Street in Santa Monica, there are seven new stations: 17th Street (Santa Monica College), 26th Street (Bergamot), Expo/Bundy, Expo/Sepulveda, Westwood/Rancho Park and Culver City (Helms Bakery). The 16.9-mile trip from Santa Monica to downtown takes about about 50 minutes.

                Trains run every 12 minutes from 4 a.m. to midnight on weekdays (and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays). Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said trains could run every 8 to 10 minutes if the demand for service is there.

                One must have a TAP (Transit Access Pass) card to ride the Metro, which can be purchased 1.) at Metro Customer Centers and more than 400 TAP vendors around town, including selected Ralphs California check-cashing stores; 2.) online by visiting taptogo.net and 3.) from TAP vending machines at Metro stations.

                The cost for Metro’s regular fare is $1.75 and for seniors (62+) $0.75. There are one-day, seven-day and 30-day passes. The latter costs $100 (regular), $20 (seniors), $43 (college students) and $24 (K-12 students). For special rates, visit: metro.net/reducedfares.

                The real issue for Pacific Palisades residents is accessing a Metro station in Santa Monica. There are four bus lines that will take you there.

                The Big Blue Bus Route 9 runs through the Palisades along Sunset/Chautauqua and drops you at the corner by the Fourth Street Metro station. The last Big Blue bus leaves from Santa Monica to the Palisades at 10 p.m. weekdays and 8:50 p.m. on weekends.

                Big Blue Bus Route 14, at Paul Revere (resumes in the fall), takes riders to the Bundy station. Route 43 (at 26th Street and San Vicente) goes to 26th/Bergamot. A fourth bus, the Metro 534, runs along Pacific Coast Highway to the Santa Monica station.

                There is no parking at Fourth and Colorado (across from Sears). According to a May 20 item in the Santa Monica Mirror: “Seemingly looking to discourage the new downtown Metro Line from becoming a ‘park and ride’ facility, the [City] Council quietly raised the parking rates at a range of parking facilities across the City, and all-day parking rates at the Civic Center lot will more than double.”

                There’s parking at three Expo stations: 17th Street/SMC (67 spaces—13 reserved for monthly permits); Bundy (217 spaces—131 reserved for monthly permits); and Sepulveda (260 spaces—77 reserved for permits).

                Parking in these stations will be $2 a day, as part of a two-year pilot program, and parking attendants will be on hand to collect money and ensure that motorists have a TAP card. When an attendant is not on duty, payment can be made with a smartphone app. Parking passes are sold at lametroparking.net.

                On May 19, the day before the Metro opened, a drive from Pacific Palisades to the Helms Bakery complex at 3 p.m. in heavy traffic took 30 minutes.

                The following day, waiting in Pacific Palisades for the Route 9 bus to go to the downtown Santa Monica station added 40 minutes to the trip before taking the 20-minute train trip between Santa Monica and Culver City.

                Visit: metro.net.

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