Metro Blue Line

The Metro Blue Line is a light-rail line in the Los Angeles County Metro Rail System. It follows a north-south route, connecting Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Long Beach. The line is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Blue Line is the oldest rail line in the Metro Rail system. On its journey, Blue Line trains cut through much of the densely populated area south of Downtown LA, through South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, and Long Beach. The Blue Line also passes near the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers can also be seen from the train near 103rd Street Station. On Metro Rail Operations’ internal timetables, the Blue Line is called line 801.

Metro Blue Line mapHistory

The 22-mile long Metro Blue Line opened on July 14, 1990 at a cost of $877 million.  It is the longest line in the Metro system.

The line runs in the median of city streets in Downtown Los Angeles and in much of Long Beach proper, but for the most part uses the former Pacific Electric Railways four track right-of-way, with some elevated structures just south of downtown Los Angeles.

Due to the wide right-of-way, express service was considered, but no express tracks were constructed. The line also runs through a brief subway in Downtown Los Angeles, between Pico and 7th Street/Metro Center.

The “Blue Line” was also an announced routing given to plans for a light rail line to Pasadena. Work began on this line as early as 1994 but was suspended following the 1994 county ballot initiative, which banned use of taxpayer money on subway construction.

Congressman Adam Schiff authored a bill that created a separate authority to continue work on the line. When construction began again in 2000, it became the Gold Line, since it began at Union Station and thus had no direct connection to the Blue Line.

Route and Stations

At Imperial/Wilmington/Rosa Parks Station, the Blue Line connects with the Green Line with service to Norwalk and Redondo Beach, mostly along the I-105 Freeway.

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 Station 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 Station and wait for the next train which terminates at Long Beach Transit Mall.

In 2006, the Metro Blue Line began using automated stop announcements. (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.

List of stations

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

Station Connections/Notes Date opened City
7th St/Metro Center Red Line Purple Line Silver Line Harbor Transitway Metro Rapid: 714, 720, 753, 760, 770 Foothill Transit: Silver Streak February 1991 Los Angeles
Pico-Chick Hearn Silver Line Harbor Transitway Metro Rapid: 728, 730 July 14, 1990
Grand Metro Rapid: 714 July 14, 1990
San Pedro July 14, 1990
Washington July 14, 1990
Vernon Metro Rapid: 705 July 14, 1990
Slauson July 14, 1990
Florence Metro Rapid: 711 July 14, 1990 Florence
Firestone Metro Rapid: 715 July 14, 1990
103rd Street-Kenneth Hahn July 14, 1990 Los Angeles
Imperial/Wilmington Green Line Metro Rapid: 753 July 14, 1990 Willowbrook
Compton July 14, 1990 Compton
Artesia Metro Rapid: 760, 762 July 14, 1990
Del Amo July 14, 1990 Carson
Wardlow July 14, 1990 Long Beach
Willow July 14, 1990
Pacific Coast Highway July 14, 1990
Anaheim Street July 14, 1990
5th Street (southbound only) September 1990
1st Street (southbound only) September 1990
Transit Mall (southbound only) September 1990
Pacific (northbound only) September 1990

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 Metro Blue Line opened, the line originally had 54 cars (P865; 100-153).

In 2000, the Blue Line added 14 cars (P2020; 154-168) from the Metro Green Line after the Green Line began using Siemens cars. The Blue Line currently has 68 train cars in their fleet. Past livery was sky/light/dark blue and red lines on white.

On June 14, 2000, Metro Blue Line 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.

Capacity

The line was originally designed for two-car trains, but the line proved more popular than expected.

To accommodate the growing demand, in 2000-2001, LACMTA spent $US 11 million lengthening 19 platforms to accommodate three-car trains.  The three-car trains launched service on November 27, 2001.

In Popular culture

In Heat (1995 film), the opening sequence shows one of the main characters alighting at Firestone Station. A Blue Line train is also featured on the movie poster. In The Italian Job (2003 film), the main characters drive their BMW MINI Coopers into the 7th/Metro station and nearly get hit by a Blue Line train, then Lyle manages to cut all power to the Blue Line to stop the same train in the station.

Key Documents

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Concept Design Report: Executive Summary (September, 1983)

Concept Design Report: Volume 1 (September, 1983)

Draft Environmental Impact Report: Summary (May, 1984)

Draft Environmental Impact Report (May, 1984)

Draft Environmental Impact Report: Design Appendix (May, 1984)

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (December, 1984)

Final Environmental Impact Report (1985)

Final Environmental Impact Report, Design Appendix Draft (March, 1985)

Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (1985)

Cost Report (August, 1989)

Metro Blue Line Capital Cost Report Prepared for Urban Mass Transportation Administration (1990)

Metro Blue Line Operating Agreement By And Between The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission And The Southren California Rapid Transit District (February, 1991)