A public transportation project nearly 10 years in the works will finally open to travelers next month.
Los Angeles Metro’s Regional Connector will officially welcome riders on June 16, the public transit service announced Monday. In honor of its opening, L.A. Metro will be offering free rides that weekend.
The Regional Connector will correct a gap in service and allow for easier and faster travel for those traveling through downtown L.A. on Metro trains.
The project allows for riders to travel between Azusa and Long Beach and between East L.A. and Santa Monica without transferring lines.
When it opens, it will connect the A and E Lines with the existing L Line with service to Los Angeles Union Station. Previously, the A and E Lines ended at the 7th Street Metro Center Station.
The L Line will eventually be phased out and the A and E lines will take over the service offered by the it.
Riders on the A Line will have the opportunity to travel from Azusa to Long Beach along the longest light rail line in the world. The track will become even longer once Metro’s Foothill Extension is complete. That extension is tentatively planned to open in 2025 and is currently more than 60% complete.
As part of the Regional Connector Project, Metro also is opening three brand new Metro stations in downtown: the Historic Broadway Station on South Broadway and West 2nd Street, the Bunker Hill station near the intersection of 2nd Place and Hope Street and the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, which replaces an existing above-ground station of the same name.
Each station features unique artwork from renowned artists and are modern engineering marvels. The Bunker Hill station is 100 feet below ground, the deepest of all Metro stations.
Transfers between the A and E Line can be completed at any of the five downtown L.A. stations.
On Monday, members of the L.A. Metro Board were given the opportunity to travel along the Regional Connector.
Its completion is a major milestone in L.A.’s public transit future, however, its opening comes during a tumultuous time for the Metro.
Metro trains have seen a shocking rise in violent crimes in past years, as well as a concerning number of deaths by overdose. Many riders have voiced concern about the safety of the trains, many opting to avoid them altogether.
The Metro Authority has contracted with local law enforcement agencies to combat crime, but those contract have come under fire after an audit brought into question how effective — and willing — law enforcement officers were when assigned to Metro duty.
After a woman was attacked on the A Line last week, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who is also a member of the Metro Board, demanded answers from those contracted law enforcement agencies to determine how and why such attack could take place on a Metro train.
Metro also recently deployed 300 “ambassadors” into the train stations to provide assistance to travelers and report unsafe conditions. The ambassador project was launched in March following a monthslong pilot program.
In response to recent crime and questions over the effectiveness of outsourcing policing, Metro has approved plans to research the feasibility of establishing its own law enforcement agency like other majors cities. Metro had a police force decades ago, but switched to local agency contracts in the 1990s.
Still, despite the Metro’s problems, many people chimed in on social media to voice their support and excitement for the completion of the Regional Connector Project. The Metro built it, now it’ll have to hope that riders come.