|Other name(s)||Blue Line (1990–2019)|
|Owner||Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
|Termini||7th Street/Metro Center|
Downtown Long Beach
|System||Los Angeles Metro Rail|
|Depot(s)||Division 11 (Long Beach)|
|Rolling stock||Siemens P2000 or Kinki Sharyo P3010 running in 2 or 3 car consists|
|Ridership||9,099,416 (2021) -2.1%|
|Opened||July 14, 1990|
|Line length||21.3 miles (34.3 km)|
|Number of tracks||2|
|Character||Mostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||Overhead line, 750 V DC|
|Operating speed||55 mph (89 km/h) (max.)|
24.1 mph (38.8 km/h) (avg.)
The A Line (formerly Blue Line from 1990–2019) is a 22-mile (35.4 km) light rail line running north–south between Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, passing through Downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, and Long Beach in Los Angeles County. It is one of six lines in the Metro Rail system. Opened in 1990, it is the system's oldest and third-busiest line with an estimated 22.38 million boardings per year as of December 2017[update]. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The A Line passes near the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers art installation is visible from the train tracks near 103rd Street station. The under-construction Regional Connector will directly link this line to Union Station and into the San Gabriel Valley along the current route of the L Line, resulting in a longer A Line.
The A Line runs 22.0 miles (35.4 km) between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach and has 22 stations.
The line's northern terminus is the underground 7th Street/Metro Center station, after rising to street level, trains run south along Flower Street, sharing tracks with the E Line. Passengers can connect to the bus rapid transit J Line at 7th Street/Metro Center, Pico, and Grand stations. The A and E Lines diverge at Flower Street and Washington Boulevard just south of downtown Los Angeles. Here the A Line turns east on Washington Boulevard before turning south into the former Pacific Electric right-of-way at Long Beach Avenue. This historic rail corridor has four tracks, with two for Metro Rail trains and two for freight trains. Along the corridor, there are some elevated sections to either eliminate street crossings in more densely populated areas or pass over diverging freight train tracks. Passengers can connect with the C Line at the Willowbrook station. Just south of Willow station, A Line trains exit the rail corridor, and begin street running in the median of Long Beach Boulevard into the city of Long Beach, where trains travel through the Long Beach Transit Mall while making a loop using 1st Street, Pacific Avenue and 8th Street.
A Line trains run every day between approximately 4:00 a.m. and 12:30 am. Trains operate every ten minutes during peak hours Monday through Friday, every twelve minutes during the daytime on weekdays and all day on the weekends after approximately 8 a.m. (with a 15/20-minute headway early Saturday and Sunday mornings). Night service is every 20 minutes.
The A Line takes 53 minutes to travel its 22.0 mile (35.4 km) length, at an average speed of 24.9 miles per hour (40.1 km/h). Trips taking close to an hour or more, however, are not unusual.
The following is the complete list of stations, from north to south.
|Station||Date opened||City/Neighborhood||Major connections and notes|
|7th Street/Metro Center||February 15, 1991||Downtown Los Angeles|
|Pico||July 14, 1990|
|San Pedro Street||South Los Angeles|
|Florence||Florence-Graham||Park and ride: 116 spaces|
|103rd Street/Watts Towers||Watts||Park and ride: 64 spaces|
Park and ride: 234 spaces
|Artesia||Park and ride: 288 spaces|
|Del Amo||Carson||Park and ride: 362 spaces|
|Wardlow||Long Beach||Park and ride: 139 spaces|
|Willow Street||Park and ride: 927 spaces|
|Pacific Coast Highway|
|September 1, 1990|
|Downtown Long Beach
Main article: History of Los Angeles Metro Rail and Busway
Further information: Long Beach Line
Much of the current A Line follows the route of the Pacific Electric Railway's Long Beach interurban line, which ended service in 1961. The old route gave the new light rail trains a private right-of-way between Washington and Willow Street stations allowing them to reach higher speeds between stops.
The line initially opened as the Blue Line on Saturday, July 14, 1990, at a cost of US$877 million (equivalent to $1.82 billion in 2021 adjusted for inflation), and ran from Pico to Willow. The street running section to Downtown Long Beach opened in September 1990, followed by the tunnel into 7th St/Metro Center in February 1991.
The route was a success, and from 1999 to 2001, the Blue Line underwent an US$11 million project to lengthen 19 of its platforms so that they could accommodate three-car trains. Plans were also made to extend the Blue Line north to Pasadena, but the connection across downtown was deferred, and the northern portion opened as the Gold Line in 2003. That original plan for the Blue Line became reality when the Regional Connector was announced in 2009. Ground was broken for the Regional Connector across downtown in 2014, and is expected to be completed in 2022.
The Blue Line was renovated in 2019, with the southern half of the line being closed for the first five months, and the northern half closing for the following five months (10 months in total). Metro provided bus shuttle service to compensate for the lack of rail service. Metro officially reopened the line on November 2, 2019, rebranding it as the A Line.
Main article: Regional Connector
Metro is currently constructing the Regional Connector, a light rail subway tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles that will connect the A and E Lines to the L Line and allow a seamless "one-seat ride" on the A Line to Union Station. When this project is completed, the A, E, and L Lines will be simplified into the following configuration:
The groundbreaking for the construction of the Regional Connector Transit Corridor took place on September 30, 2014, and it is expected to be in public service in 2022.
The line often operates at capacity, and various options to increase capacity have been considered, such as four-car trains or more frequent trains. Both have problems: it would be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms, and the number of trains already causes delays for other vehicles at level crossings. Thus it may not be possible to increase A Line ridership without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation, by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway", or by building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the A Line. When the Regional Connector project linking A and E Line tracks with the L Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed, this may result in even more capacity problems, with ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.
Over 120 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at A Line level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 collisions, making the line easily the country's deadliest and most collision-prone rail line.
In 1998, the MTA commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. to evaluate the cause of Blue Line collisions and recommend affordable solutions. The study reported 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 contributing factors identified were the high population density leading to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that creates literacy and language difficulties for 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 traffic in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (89 km/h) between stations.
The collision rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the A Line shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Willowbrook station and Artesia station. The gates prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras along some problem intersections issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates.
On Metro Rail Operations' internal timetables, the A Line is called line 801.
The A Line is operated out of the Division 11 Yard (208th Street Yard) located at 4350 East 208th Street. This yard stores the fleet used on the A 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.
The A Line uses 2 different types of rolling stock from Siemens and Kinki Sharyo.
When the Blue Line first opened in 1990, the line had 54 Nippon Sharyo P865 light rail vehicles, numbered 100–153. These cars wore a unique livery consisting of several blue stripes and a single red stripe, reflecting the Blue Line's color designation and its Pacific Electric Red Car heritage.
In 2000, Metro transferred all 15 Nippon Sharyo P2020 (Numbered 154-168) light rail vehicles from the Green Line to the Blue Line fleet. These light rail vehicles were nearly identical to the older P865 model, but were about five years newer and originally had an automated control panel for automatic train operation in each cab.
In 2012, Metro transferred some Siemens P2000 light rail vehicles from the Gold Line to the Blue Line fleet.
In 2017, the Blue Line received 78 Kinki Sharyo P3010 light rail vehicles, the first new fleet of vehicles for the line since it opened in 1990. As the P3010 fleet was introduced, Metro gradually retired all of the remaining P865 light rail vehicles, the original vehicles used on the line. In 2021, the final deliveries of the P3010s resulted to the 15 P2020 railcars to also retire as Metro has no more room for the aging vehicles.
A 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.
By the time of the Regional Connector opening in 2022, it is expected that Division 21 in Elysian Park, and Division 24 in Monrovia will be acquired for A Line service as the A and L lines will merge into one route.
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