Metro Rail Turns 25

Metro_Rail_Blue_LineIt was 25 years ago (yesterday) that the Blue Line opened from downtown L.A. to Long Beach, ushering in a modern rail transit era in Los Angeles. Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times ran a nice piece on the occasion, including a few quotes from yours truly:

As Southern California prepared to welcome the region’s first light-rail line since the demise of the red Pacific Electric streetcars a generation before, reviews on rail were decidedly mixed.

“There is just no reason for optimism,” one academic told The Times in 1985, adding that the line linking Los Angeles and Long Beach would be “a ghost train.” Five years later, an MIT researcher warned that “the blind cult of the train could be as dangerous and destructive as the unthinking worship of the freeway.”

Instead, the Blue Line, which turns 25 this week, eclipsed ridership benchmarks to become one of the most heavily traveled light-rail lines in the United States. Its debut also marked the dawn of an ambitious era of rail expansion in Los Angeles County: Since 1990, officials have built five more rail lines and 65 more miles of tracks, with 37 more planned during the next two decades.

Always nice to prove naysayers wrong, although the line — and the neighborhoods around the stations in particular — still needs a lot of work.


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