The Expo Line Goes to the Sea!

Discover LA by Metro:

Strike Up the Band: First Expo Line Train to Santa Monica!

May 20, 2016, 12:00 PM

Hundreds of Metro riders were on the Culver City Station platform waiting for the first train to Santa Monica.

Hundreds of Metro riders were on the Culver City Station platform waiting for the first train to Santa Monica.

Hundreds of people were on the platform at Culver City Station waiting for the first Expo Line train to Santa Monica. We were there, too — we had to be!

The train was almost full when it arrived — many people got on the train along the way from 7th/Metro Station. Most of the passengers were regular Metro patrons, although there were also some media people and VIPs. There was also a phalanx of Sheriff’s deputies at the doors, anticipating the crowd waiting at Culver City.

Cell phone paparazzi greet the first Expo Line train between LA and Santa Monica.

Cell phone paparazzi greet the first Expo Line train between LA and Santa Monica.

As the train pulled in, there was a rush of excitement. But when the doors opened, the deputies had to restrain the crowd because there was so little space on the train. We had expected this, so we were there early and staked out a spot on the platform where the front doors of the first car opened. We were able to squeeze in along with only a half-dozen other riders.

We had visions of the infamous subway and train crowds at rush hour in Japan, where white-gloved employees pack riders into the cars so efficiently and forcefully that there is literally no personal space left. Fortunately, Metro doesn’t employ pushers.

Those who were unable to get on were visibly disappointed, but the train operator announced that another train would be coming in a few minutes. No one tried to push past the deputies and the train departed with cheers from the lucky passengers on board.

A crowd waited for the train on the platform of the Westwood/Rancho Park Station.

A crowd waited for the train on the platform of the Westwood/Rancho Park Station.

Because we were at the front of the first car, we were very close to the door into the operator’s cabin. A Metro media staff member was standing next to us, and he asked the supervisor in the cabin to slide down the window in the cabin door, allowing us to photograph the view through the front windows of the train.

Healthy crowds awaited this first train at every one of the new stations: Palms, Westwood/Rancho Park, Expo/Sepulveda, Expo/Bundy, 26th St./Bergamot, 17th St./SMC, and Downtown Santa Monica.

Just as at the Culver City Station, the anxious potential riders were disappointed to find that there was no room for them. The exception to this repeated scene was at the Expo/Bundy Station, where one of the riders announced that this was her stop and she wanted to get off the train. Once she squeezed her way out, one lucky person was able to squeeze in.


Crowds jammed the train platforms at every station for the first Expo Line train to Santa Monica.

The crowds on the platforms at Culver City Station and the following six stations were nothing compared to the huge, boisterous group waiting at the Santa Monica Downtown Station. Arriving riders were asked to leave the train, exit the platform, and go to the back of the long lines of people waiting to get on board. Fortunately, the weather was sunny, with a cool sea breeze helping to keep the wait comfortable.

Huge, boisterous crowds at the Santa Monica Downtown Station waited to get on the trains.

Kamisha Myvett operated the first passenger-carrying train to Santa Monica.

Kamisha Myvett operated the first passenger-carrying train to Santa Monica.

This was an auspicious beginning to the new Metro service, which will take about 46 minutes to traverse the distance between 7th/Metro Station in Downtown Los Angeles and  Santa Monica Downtown Station. After six decades, you can once again ride the rails between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Santa Monica following much of the route of the old Red Cars.

The Metro Duo is very excited to have been on the first passenger-carrying train on the completed Expo Line. Thanks are due to Kamisha Myvett, who smoothly operated this very heavily loaded train and graciously informed disappointed riders that there would be room on the next trains. Thanks are also owed to Paul Gonzales, Metro’s media staffer in the first car, for enabling our photography through the front windows of the train.


Artist Judithe Hernandez created 24 panels of artwork at Downtown Santa Monica Station based on ancient myths and legends of Europe, Mexico, Japan, India, Latin America, Iran, Russia, Native America, Polynesia and Africa.

The New Expo Line Map

The Metro Expo Line runs between Downtown LA at 7th Street/Metro Center and Downtown Santa Monica.



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12 Responses to The Expo Line Goes to the Sea!

  1. Patty Jula says:

    So wonderful that the Expo line travels to Santa Monica now! It really connects the westside with other parts of the city. I rode and don’t even mind that it’s not the fastest train ride.

  2. Carmen says:

    Not sure if you’re able to answer this for me but does the Expo line get crowded on 7th st/metro at around 7:30am heading to santa monica?

    • Metro Duo says:

      We are independent of Metro and have no way of knowing how crowded trains are at any given time.

      We’ve occasionally been on weekend mid-day trains that were crowded for no apparent reason — there was no big sporting event at that time, for example. But we got to our destination on time even though we had to stand.

  3. Wow! FINALLY! And look at the crowds. I predict that they’re going to have to add more trains… immediately. Congratulations, LA. Keep up the good work, Metro Duo.

    • Metro Duo says:

      Thanks, Beverly!

      The crowds have settled down after opening day, but there is a shortage of trains. Several years ago, Metro had to cancel a contract with a train builder and seek out a new one. New trains are now coming in and alleviating the crowding on both the Expo Line and the Gold Line, which opened its extension a few months ago.

  4. lenlip11 says:

    Very nice story and good pictures which really caught the atmosphere of the day. I recently bought a new condo in Santa Monica and specifically bought where I did because it’s a 6 minute walk from the new Downtown S.M. Expo station – at long last I can go downtown to the Music Center again on week nights – haven’t done so except very rarely for years.

    • Metro Duo says:

      Thanks for your compliments, Len! It was fun to be in the middle of that celebration.

      Our homes are about a mile from Metro stations, and the savings in rush hour drive time and stress plus parking costs and hassles make concertgoing much easier and more relaxed. The Music Center is a short, pleasant walk up through Grand Park from the Civic Center Station (Temple St. exit) on the Red/Purple Lines.

      • Varda Ullman Novick says:

        Nota bene: That walk (a full block) is uphill, which may hinder some. I’ve been told that the DASH doesn’t run in the evening. A few restaurants near the 7th St. station have shuttles to the Music Center.

  5. Varda Ullman Novick says:

    The slowest commuter train in the nation.

    • Metro Duo says:

      It’s pretty slow in Downtown Santa Monica, where it runs on Colorado St. for a half-dozen blocks, but it makes fairly good time on the rest of the route, where it has its own right-of-way. But it’s not really a commuter train — it’s light rail. MetroLink runs commuter trains to/from Union Station on the right-of-way it shares with Amtrak and freight trains.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Varda Ullman Novick says:

        The slowest light rail in the country. Changing the subject: Didn’t a Japanese company bid on supplying the trains and lose?

        • Metro Duo says:

          An Italian company originally won the contract on supplying the new trains for the Expo and Gold Line extensions, but the contract was cancelled by Metro, and it took a while for a new contract to be awarded to Kinki Sharyo. Those trains are now being delivered and are running on the Gold Line, the Expo Line, and the Blue Line.

          However, there are some software issues with at least some of the trains. We were on a Gold Line train and wanted to report a problem at a station using the intercom with the train operator, but it wasn’t working and the operator never answered. Fortunately, a Metro employee was in the car with us, explained the train issue, and radioed the problem to HQ. An Expo Line train we were on said it was Not In Service and both the audible and visual station announcements weren’t working. A Metro employee was at the doorway of the car we were on and was announcing the stops. Both employees told us the problems were being worked on.

          We assume that the key train functions, i.e. brakes, motors, and doors, are working correctly on all of the new trains in service.

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