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Regular Service Starts on Expo Line

The 7.6-mile Expo Line started its regular service today between downtown Los Angeles and its western terminus at La Cienega Boulevard.

Regular fares on Metro’s first westward light-rail line are $1.50.

Weekend riders were free, and Metro officials logged about 44,000 boardings Saturday.

Initial daily ridership was projected to be around 27,000.

The first revenue run was at 4:54 a.m., when a westbound train pulled away from Platform 2 at the underground station downtown at Seventh and Figueroa streets.

At 5:12 a.m., the first eastbound train is due out of the elevated station at La Cienega and Jefferson boulevards.

Starting about 7 a.m. at the Seventh Street station, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar and Metro officials will greet arriving passengers and hand out commemorative first day pins.

Trains will run about every 12 minutes between about 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. and less frequently late at night. The last run will be just before 1 a.m.

Service extends from downtown Los Angeles south on Flower Street to Exposition Boulevard at USC, then west on Exposition and Jefferson boulevards to a temporary end at La Cienega Boulevard.

Two stations have yet to open — the Phase-One terminus at Venice at Robertson boulevards and a station near Dorsey High School at Farmdale Avenue. The Farmdale stop was added late because of concerns pedestrian safety near the school.

Phase Two construction will continue west to Santa Monica. Trains will use the old Southern Pacific “Air Line” route west along the Santa Monica (10) Freeway and through West L.A. neighborhoods to Santa Monica, where dual tracks on Colorado Boulevard will end at a Fourth Street terminal, within sight of the ocean.

The overall cost is projected at $2.2 billion.

The new tracks follow the route of the Los Angeles and Independence Railway, a line proposed in 1875 to eventually connect silver mines in Nevada with a seaport proposed for what is now the city of Santa Monica. Southern Pacific took control of the railroad after it went bankrupt, and eventually a few Pacific Electric interurban trains ran on it.

Passenger traffic was never hugely successful on what was eventually named the “Air Line,” for its straight-arrow route to the sea. Parallel streetcar lines on Venice or Santa Monica boulevards handled most beach-bound passengers.

Freight service on the Air Line/Expo Route ended in 1989, when a flatcar- load of lumber was delivered by a Southern Pacific engine to a Santa Monica lumber yard, according to the now-defunct Santa Monica Evening Outlook.

Copyright © 2012 City News Service

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