Metro Is Betting Its Second-Oldest Light Rail Line Is About to See a Jump in Ridership

The authority is seeking funds to make big improvements to the Green Line (aka the C Line)

From the looks of Crenshaw Boulevard, the under-construction Crenshaw Line isn’t all that close to opening, though it’s still scheduled to begin service this year. Whenever the new light rail line—which will connect the (C) Green Line to the (E) Expo Line—does open, it will add tens of thousands of new riders to the system, especially when the LAX People Mover starts operating in 2023, allowing connections to the airport via the Crenshaw Line.

Anticipating the ridership bump, Metro is seeking a $70 million grant from Sacramento to fund a project that would increase capacity at four South Bay- and LAX-area Green Line stations, lengthening the train platforms so they can accommodate three-car trains instead of the current two. The “CORE Capacity” project, costing $200 million in total and paid for with a mix of the grant and matching funds, would affect the Redondo Beach, Douglas, Mariposa, and Aviation/LAX stations, and would also pay for more two more traction substations (which power the trains and reduce breakdowns) and maintenance work.

When Crenshaw line begins service, the Green Line’s South Bay stations may not initially see that large an increase in ridership—and not just because the People Mover won’t open for a few more years. Back in 2018, Metro’s board approved a one-year pilot that will route some trains in a dog-leg pattern, from the Green Line’s Norwalk station to the east to the Expo/Crenshaw station to the north, bypassing the Green Line’s South Bay stations. The Redondo Beach, Douglas, Mariposa, and Aviation/LAX stations will terminate at the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station, which connects to the Blue (A) Line. To reach LAX, South Bay riders will have to transfer trains at the forthcoming Aviation/Century station; to reach Norwalk to the west, South Bay riders will connect at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks. If ridership is dismal, Metro will likely tinker with the routes.

Meanwhile, Metro’s board approved a $32.5 million contract last week to simultaneously start an environmental analysis and move forward on design concepts for a Green Line extension to Torrance; County Supervisor Janice Hahn wants to see the 4.6-mile extension open by the 2028 Olympics. Metro is also moving ahead with a Crenshaw Line extension through Miracle Mile and West Hollywood—and both extensions would almost certainly necessitate three-car trains for those currently quiet South Bay stations.

RELATED: Will the Problems That Plague the Expo Line Get Worse Next Year?

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