With Metro’s A Line in full operation, frustrated riders deal with lengthy headway times DTLB-to-DTLA

Riders are beyond frustrated with the newly minted A Line, formerly the Blue Line, Metro Los Angeles’ most ridden and longest light rail. After just undergoing a massive $1.2 billion overhaul—with this particular 10 month-closure taking $350 million of that chunk—rider after rider is expressing frustration, anger, and stress at what they describe as a lack of consistent schedule.

In fact, hundreds of comments from across online forums have come in with the full force of a ridership absolutely fed up with the roll-out of what was supposed to be a smoother A Line.

“Metro said repeatedly that the scheduled time for the new A Line will be five minutes faster than before—I’ve yet to see it even achieve the old Blue Line’s time of 58 minutes,” said Kevin Kane, a daily rider from Long Beach, after a request for comment.

“I waited 20 minutes for a train and finally got on at 12:35 p.m. on Anaheim this past Friday,” said rider Gordon Cardona. “The train ran slow along with making several stops along the way—five stops between Washington and Metro Center alone. All in all, 85 minutes. 85 minutes.

Lufia Lei Masoe, riding the train the same day as Cardona, was upset there were no buses on hand for delays on Nov. 8, after trains were experiencing such mass setbacks that there was no room for additional passengers.

Rafael Vega noted that, on his ride heading southbound, they announced only one track would be opened past the Florence station, a situation he described on Facebook as “freaking whack.”

“After the stress of the afternoon and all the delays, I decided thought it would be smart to catch the 456/860—I was wrong,” wrote rider Leslie Williams in an A Line group online. “The 456/860 never came at 4:15 p.m., its scheduled time. Didn’t show up until 4:37 p.m. This whole thing is a joke.”

The Blue Line makes it’s through downtown Long Beach on August 14, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

These complaints directly contradict official times, according to Jose Ubaldo of Metro, which told the Post that the A Line has “shown a 53 minute end-to-end run time, which we think is realistic.” He also noted how “pleased” Metro is to have “restored peak-hour service with trains every six minutes,” another contradiction given rider testimonies.

If there is anything to say, it seems for the first time, the headway issues many are experiencing aren’t linked to the infamous Long Beach stretch of the line, where the train had competed with traffic signal after traffic signal until arriving at its final destination in Downtown Long Beach.

While some riders have noted only marginal benefits along the Long Beach stretch, the city’s Public Works Department said they have shaved minutes off the southern portion of the line’s commute.

“We have been successful in reducing the commute by at least three to four minutes since implementation of our traffic signal synchronization plan,” said Jennifer Carey of the city’s Public Works Department. “The project synchronized signals crossing the A Line between the Downtown and Willow Street stations. We are optimistic we will be able to shave even more time off the commute as we continue to make small modifications to signal timing. We have noticed that each day we see more and more of a reduction in time.”

While the city continues to test the synchronization, there seems to be larger concerns with the northern portion of the line, especially along its stretch where it meets Washington Boulevard at the Washington station and where it combines with the E Line at Flower Street.

Walidah Dailey, a rider dependent on that stretch of the A Line, said there have been “delays all week. It takes 20 minutes to go from Washington to Pico—it’s like watching paint dry.”

Metro has said that most of the delays have been electrical and signal issues, constantly tweeting out delays due to such issues via Twitter and Facebook.

“As with any new equipment, there are always improvements and tweaks to be made once revenue service begins,” Ubaldo said. “We believe service will continue to improve as we resolve some issues with the signaling system, new switches and overhead wires.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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