Ryan Reft at KCET penned a relatively brief but comprehensive history of the Blue Line to mark its upcoming 25th anniversary. He acknowledges the ongoing maintenance challenges as well:
The Blue Line’s total cost eventually reached $877 million: $227 million over the 1985 estimate at groundbreaking. Yet its unveiling in 1990 set off a wave of [Pacific Electric] nostalgia. In the ensuing 25 years, it would become the busiest light rail in the nation, ferrying 26 million passengers annually.
That said, in recent years the Blue Line, and light rail in Los Angeles more generally, has encountered some snags: the former, the consequences of neglect; and the latter, community opposition in places like the Exposition Park neighborhood where working class homeowners have expressed worries about gentrification, overburdened public institutions, and crime.
In 2012, $239 million in deferred maintenance resulted in numerous cancellations and delays for the Blue Line. In January and February of 2012 alone, the line experienced 858 delays or cancellations, roughly double the total during the same period in 2011. Most of these issues resulted from aging rail cars, which by 2012 required maintenance after 19,500 miles, down from 26,000 in 2009. Similar issues plagued bus and rail systems nationally. A 2010 report by the Federal Transit Administration argued $77.7 billion would be required to bring all systems to “good repair.”
All the more reason to fund transit operations and find new revenue sources for crumbling infrastructure like the Blue Line (subject of the recent UC Berkeley / UCLA Law report Moving Dollars).
But in the meantime, the article uncovers this bizarre Blue Line promotional video featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: