Culver City Observer -

Crowds Celebrate Metro Extension To The Beach

 


At 9:45 a.m. on May 20 a gray and yellow light rail train came into Downtown Santa Monica Station at 5th and Colorado. Media people snapped pictures and took videos, an audience cheered, and a number of city officials and Metro employees exited the train.

The full-length Expo Line, from downtown Los Angeles to the sea, had finally opened.

The Expo Line now constitutes 15.2 miles across the Los Angeles basin, with 19 stations. Work on the Expo Line began in the early 2000s, with community meetings in every community that would be served. Phase 1, from downtown L.A. to Culver City, opened in June 2012.

The official ceremonies for the opening of Phase 2 began with a color guard presenting the flags of The United States of America and California, followed by Olympic champion Janet Evans leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of the Metro Board of Directors and County Supervisor (2nd District), welcomed the crowd and served as emcee.

He noted: “After the Pacific Electric Streetcars were decommissioned 63 years ago, many never believed that public transit would ever return to the Westside. But today, Metro has made the impossible possible. Angelenos can now get from Santa Monica all the way to downtown Los Angeles in just 47 minutes!”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke of how his grandparents went on a date on the old Pacific Electric cars and mused that now, “Someone will go on a date tonight on the Expo Line and fall in love.”

Metro Board member and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told the audience:”This is a really wonderful day for me, partly because I had the privilege of carrying the legislation to create the Expo Construction Authority. But the real winners today are all the residents of L.A. County who can bypass traffic in yet another segment of our region, and look forward to even more!”

Kuehl appears in an online video “To the Beach and Back” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNgl8YjbLpA) produced by Barbara Osborn and directed by Matt Kresling. The slightly over one minute video shows the former “Dobie Gillis” star riding on an Expo Line train accompanied by animation that illustrates why riding Expo is better than driving.

Other speakers at the ceremony included John Fasana, first Vice Chair of the Metro Board and a council member of the city of Duarte (now served by the Gold Line); Mike Bonin, member of the Expo Construction Authority, Metro Board, and L.A.City Council; James Butts, former L.A. police chief, now Mayor of Inglewood; Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vasquez; Chris Hannan, L.A. County Representative LA/OC Building and Construction Trades Council; and Metro CEO Phillip Washington.

The ceremony concluded with the Santa Monica High Marching Band, who marched away to nearby Santa Monica Place, followed by the city officials, who attended a rooftop brunch featuring more speakers.

These speakers included Culver City Mayor Jim Clarke, who talked of how Culver City founder Harry Culver had envisioned “a city by the sea” and how the full-length Expo Line helps to fulfill Culver’s vision by linking the cities.

At noon, the Expo Line opened to the public in Santa Monica, with free rides for all. People lined up in a Disneyland-style zigzag queue to board the trains.

Festivities continued on Saturday, May 21, with free rides all day and celebrations at each of the new stations.

Culver City Council member Meghan Sahli-Wells spoke at the Culver City station celebration. She observed:

“I have been proud to represent Culver City on the Expo Line Board of Directors for the past few years. It's been wonderful to be able to hop on my bike and go to all the Expo Board meetings using the Expo Line.

“This line was made possible by the grassroots advocates who had the vision to preserve the old Exposition rail right of way, who worked tirelessly for decades to make this day of celebration possible.

“Our challenge as a city and as a region is to make the first and last mile connections to the Expo Line safe and seamless. I brought my bike helmet on stage as a statement to show how important it is for us to create streets that make all transportation options accessible - and to remind you that if you walk, bike or take the bus to the station - you don't have to worry about parking.”

 

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