Metro’s New Night Service Sucks for Anyone Staying Out Later Than 9

The rail network grows—and so do wait times

This has been a big year of change for Metro. Not only did they incorporate extensions of the Gold and Expo lines, they just recently shook up service. For the latter, riders were gifted with more convenient bus access to California State University, Northridge and Sylmar’s Mission College, as well as more frequent service on the Gold Line extension to Azusa. But the changes also included a big bummer.

As part of the service restructuring that began late last month, Metro slashed night service on the trains. Beginning between 8 and 9 p.m., trains will now arrive every 20 minutes, compared to 10, previously. Metro CEO Phil Washington said the reductions were necessary to perform maintenance that will prevent service catastrophes like those experienced in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. But Streetsblog LA says it’s also a cost-cutting maneuver, shaving a relatively measly 4.4 million from the transit agency’s annual budget.

Missing a train and waiting another 10 minutes is a bummer; 20 somehow feels like an eternity, especially if you’re tired, tipsy, and in a subway station with spotty cell service. New riders may say “Screw it,” and call an Uber. Or other may hear about the new frequencies (also called “headways”) and avoid the train altogether. Either way, it doesn’t feel like a great way to usher in new rail lines.

There are some bright spots to the new headways. First, a proposal called for reducing frequencies to 20 minutes from about 8 p.m. until midnight, shutting the trains down, and pushing riders to bus service (similar to what London does). That, thankfully, has been scrapped for now. Secondly, the 20 minute rule doesn’t always apply, at least according to Metro’s timetables. If you’re departing DTLA and heading to the Wilshire/Vermont station in Koreatown—or any station between that one and 7th/Metro—Red and Purple line trains still come every 10 minutes on Friday and Saturday evenings. That’s because the lines alternate between trains headed to NoHo (Red Line) and trains going to Koreatown (Purple Line); and both destinations hit the Wilshire/Vermont stop. Just make sure to make it to 7th/Metro before 2:21 a.m.; the last train of the night. All the other train lines cut service at about that time, though usually a few minutes earlier. Check all the schedules here.