Officials ask users to ‘plan ahead’ as Metro Blue Line prepares for 8-month closure

After announcing its 8-month closure last year, Metro hosted a group of officials to provide more details on the disruption that may impact up to 64,000 riders beginning Saturday, Jan. 26.

Part of the “New Blue” project (which, at the end of its culmination, will be called the “A Line”) will make much-needed improvements—both structurally and aesthetically—across the span of two, four-month closures. This particular part of the $1.2 billion project will cost $350 million.

The first of the closures—once again beginning this Saturday, Jan. 26—will be along the southern stretch of the line from its Downtown Long Beach hub to the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station. The northern segment, scheduled for closure beginning in May, will stretch from Willowbrook/Rosa Parks to 7th/Metro. The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station will be closed for the entirety of the eight months as it undergoes its $66 million overhaul.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia [front center] is joined by Supervisor Janice Hahn [left], Metro Executive Officer for Capital Projects Tim Lindholm [back center], and Metro Board Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker at a press conference near the Blue Line's Willow station on Jan. 22, 2019. Photo by Brian Addison.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia [front center] is joined by Supervisor Janice Hahn [left], Metro Executive Officer for Capital Projects Tim Lindholm [back center], and Metro Board Director Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker at a press conference near the Blue Line’s Willow station on Jan. 22, 2019. Photo by Brian Addison.

During the northern portion of the closure, the Expo Line will be suspended for 45 days at 7th St/Metro and the Pico Station; service in that segment will replaced by bus shuttles. The Expo Line will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

Three shuttles will be offered for riders for the southern portion of the closure:

  • Local Shuttle
    • This free shuttle—yes, free—will run from Downtown Long Beach and stop at every station up until 103rd St./Watts Tower, where users can use their TAP card to transfer to the Blue Line to Downtown Los Angeles if needed.
    • It will operate Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Friday through Saturday from 4:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
    • It will run every six minutes during peak hours (5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and 12 minutes during non-peak hours.
    • According to Metro, this shuttle will take 80 minutes to get from Downtown Long Beach to 103rd St./Watts Tower.
  • Select Shuttle
    • This shuttle will cost $1.75 (or free with TAP transfer) and is desirable for those needing less stops on their way to any station above 103rd St./Watts Towers.
    • It will run non-stop from Downtown Long Beach to 103rd St./Watts Towers; users can connect with the Blue Line if need be.
    • It will run Monday through Friday only from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    • According to Metro, this shuttle will take 60 minutes to get from Downtown Long Beach to 103rd St./Watts Tower.
  • Express Shuttle
    • This shuttle will cost $1.75 (or free with TAP transfer) and is desirable for those needing a direction connection from Downtown Long Beach to Downtown Los Angeles or vice versa.
    • It will run every 12 minutes, Monday through Friday only, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m and 3 to 7 p.m.
    • According to Metro, this shuttle will take 60 to 70 minutes depending on traffic.
  • For a visual map of the closure, click here.

According to Metro’s Executive Officer for Capital Projects Tim Lindholm, Metro’s decision to keep the Select and Express shuttles to weekday service only was to “analyze ridership” initially before expanding services that might not be necessary. In other words, should ridership prove the need for expanded services, Lindholm said Metro would “guarantee” that such expansions would take place—this despite growing concerns over the efficiency of the shuttle system, which was used during previous closures of the line to little success.

As for the Long Beach Police Department’s $30 million security contract with Metro—awarded in February of 2018, it handed the department the resources to police the stations within the city using their own labor force—the contract will “move forward,” according to Mayor Robert Garcia, with Long Beach police officers patrolling stations as usual.

“The policing contract between all entities—Metro, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Long Beach Police Department—will remain in place during the closure,” Garcia said.

To view the breakdown of the expenditure plan for the “New Blue,” click here.

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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