Now You Can Ride a Train From Downtown L.A. to the Beach

The Expo Line now runs between downtown L.A. and Fourth and Colorado in Santa Monica.  (Robert LaFond/KCRW)

The last time Los Angeles residents were able to take a train to the beach was in 1953. But starting today, Angelenos will be able to board an Expo Line train in downtown L.A. and take it to downtown Santa Monica, just blocks from the pier.

The extension was delayed for decades over safety, environmental and funding concerns. But now Metro, the train’s operator, is hailing this and other subway extensions as a "transit renaissance" for the region. Is L.A. moving toward a less car-dependent future?

There’s one group in L.A. that’s been anticipating the Expo Line extension for years: cyclists. The route features a bike lane that runs alongside it.

“I think the bike path is going to change the city, maybe as much as the train,” Alissa Walker said. “I’ll be able to jump on this bike freeway to get from one part of the city to another, and being able to jump on the train if you get tired, that’s going to make the most difference in my commuting.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says his grandparents used to ride the Red Car to Santa Monica. "I'm proud to be repeating that history," he said.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says his grandparents used to ride the Red Car to Santa Monica. 'I'm proud to be repeating that history,' he said. (Robert LaFond/KCRW)

Another excited cyclist is Meghan Sahli-Wells, the mayor of Culver City and a board member of the Expo Construction Authority. She says she takes the train and bikes to all the Expo board meetings.

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“I live within probably a little less than a mile from the Expo station, as do a great number of Culver City and Palms residents. So I’m particularly excited to not have to look for parking, fit in my exercise within my commute, and really have great transit access for myself, my kids and my community," Sahli-Wells said.

When she’s on the train, Sahli-Wells puts her bike in the articulation between the train cars and uses a bungee cord to secure it to a hand rail during the ride. If she has several meetings or one that’s far away, she’ll take the bike with her. If she just has one meeting and it’s near the train station, she’ll lock it up at the station.

Here's one helpful tip she has for cyclists: "If I can see the security camera where my bike is, that means the security camera can see my bike."

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