Light and Heavy Rail Homepage
Commuter Rail Homepage

  Light and Heavy Rail

Los Angeles and the area at one time had one of the largest transit systems around, with the Pacific Electric running their Red Cars, and the Los Angles Railway and their Yellow Cars.  After WWII, the systems were systematically taken apart until 1963 when nothing was left.

Then, on July 14th, 1990, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, AKA the Metro, opened it's first Light Rail line, 27 years after the end of streetcar service.

The current (2011) Metro rail system comprises 5 lines with 70 stations, with 23 under construction, for a total line length of 79.1 miles. 
The five lines are Blue, Green, Gold, Red, and Purple.

Three of the lines are Light Rail:

     The Blue Line was the first of the 5 lines. 
     It runs from downtown LA in the financial district to downtown Long Beach.
     The line runs entirely on the surface.

     The Green Line runs from Redondo Beach to Norwalk, and is fully elevated.

     The all surface Gold Line runs from East Los Angeles east to Pasadena.

The other two are Heavy Rail / Metro lines, both are underground:

     The Red Line connects downtown LA with North Hollywood. 

     The Purple Line also runs from downtown to Koreatown/Mid-Wilshire.

Some key dates for the systems:
     July 14, 1990 - First segment of the blue line opened Pico to Anaheim St
     Sep 1, 1990 - Blue line Long Beach Loop, Anaheim St to Pacific
     Feb 15, 1991 - Blue Line to the Financial District, Pico to 7th St/Metro Center
     Jan 30, 1993 - Red Line MOS-1, the Red & Purple line go from Union Station to Westlake/MacArthur Park
     Aug 12, 1995 - Green Line, Redondo Beach to Norwalk
     May 26, 1996 - Red Line MOS-2 West, Red & Purple Line Westlake/MacArthur Park to Wilshire/Western
     Jun 12, 1999 -  Red Line MOS-2 North, Red Line Wilshire/Vermont to Hollywood/Vine
     Jun 24, 2000 - Red Line MOS-3, Red Line Hollywood & Vine to North Hollywood
     July 17, 2003 - Gold Line to Pasadena, Union Station to Sierra Madre Villa
     Nov 15, 2009 - Gold Line Eastside Extension, Union Station to Atlantic
     Nov 2011 - Expo line from downtown to Santa Monica opens
Each light rail line has it's own yard.  The Green and Blue lines can share cars and other services, for they share an interchange at the Rosa Park station.  The Gold Line is on it's own, for it does not interchange with any of the other lines.

The Red and Purple line shops is kind of "around the corner" from Union Station, along the river, with the shop buildings themselves on the north side of East 4th Street.  Nice shops, I had a tour of it back in 1996 or so.

  Commuter / Regional Rail

Commuter Rail in Los Angeles goes by the name Metrolink.  Metrolink is a separate agency from the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), which operates the Light and Heavy Rail systems.

The Metrolink name was chosen and construction started in 1991.

The first three lines opened 1992: the Ventura, San Bernardino, and Santa Clarita lines.  Somewhere I have pictures of opening day down at Union Station. 
The Riverside line opened in 1993. 
The Orange County line opened in 1994.
The Inland Empire /Orange County line opened in 1995.
Lots more of this stuff at: http://www.metrolinktrains.com/about/?id=5

All of the lines operate Monday thru Friday, but only the Antelope Valley, Orange County, San Bernardino, and Inland Empire-Orange County Lines run on weekends.  As for holidays, you need to check their schedule page, but generally, it looks like the San Bernardino and Antelope Valley lines are the only ones operating on holidays.

In 2002, Metrolink and Amtrak reached an agreement that allows Metrolink access to Amtrak trains at the stations they share.  This program is called Rail 2 Rail.  Metrolink passengers may travel on most Pacific Surfliner trains and busses within the trip limits of your pass.  Travel on Coast Starlight trains is not allowed.

If you are riding a bicycle, there is room for two bikes on each car, and the storage area is adjacent to the rest rooms on the bottom floor of the cars.  Surfboards are not allowed, and small boards are allowed as long as they do not block anything.

There homepage is at: http://www.metrolinktrains.com/

The map below is a comprehensive map of the rail transit in and around Los Angeles.  Considering Los Angeles used to have one of the largest transit systems back in the streetcar days, they have recovered fairly well, don't you think?

The above map in PDF form is here


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New 12/07/2011
last Modified: 12 May 2017