As Metro’s Blue Line continues through its six-year-long, $1.2 billion rehab, the transit authority announced its express bus schedule in contingency with an eight-month long closure will take place next year.
Part of the “New Blue” campaign will make much-needed improvements—both structurally and aesthetically—across the span of two four-month segments.
The first of the closures, taking place in January of 2019, will be along the southern stretch of the line from its DTLB hub to the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station. The northern segment, scheduled for closure beginning in May of 2019, 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.
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.
For the bus shuttle replacement services affecting the Blue Line, per Metro:
- Blue Line local bus shuttle Service will be free, with buses serving all closed Blue Line stations. The shuttles will run the same hours as the Blue Line, seven days a week.
- Blue Line select bus shuttle service will have a $1.75 fare and serve busier stations during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to the Blue Line or other lines within two hours of starting a trip. Select bus shuttles will run Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m. During the closure between Downtown Long Beach and 103rd Street Station, the select bus shuttles will serve the following stations: Pacific, 1st Street/Downtown Long Beach, 5th Street, Anaheim Street, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow Street, Wardlow Road, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and 103rd/Watts Towers. During the closure between Compton and 7th/Metro, the shuttles will service 7th/Metro, Pico, Grand/LATTC, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and Compton.
- Blue Line express shuttle service will have a $1.75 fare with limited stops between Downtown Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles during morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to other lines within two hours of starting a trip. The express bus service will run Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m. Stations served will be Pacific Avenue, Downtown Long Beach/1st Street, 5th St, Anaheim Street, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow Street, Wardlow, LATTC/Ortho Institute, Grand/LATTC, Pico and 7th St/Metro Center.
Upgrades include four new switches, meaning that trains can move between tracks in more locations; signal system upgrades; improvements to the Washington-Flower junction of the Blue and Expo Line; overhead wire refurbishment; continued rail replacement in DTLB following the 30-day closure back in 2014; and power system upgrades.
And, admittedly, creates difficult for the 90,000 daily riders that use it—but according to Luke Klipp, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s Metro staff member, the work is essential.
“For those interested, all of this work has to be done,” Klipp said. “The signals’ rehabilitation, overhead catenary replacement, and track rebooting work were originally proposed as weekend closures across every other weekend for three years in a row. The rebuild of the entire Rosa Parks-Willowbrook station requires a closure of that station for six to eight months. Essentially, the eight-month closure, as now proposed, consolidates a bunch of separate projects into a single timeline to complete a large amount of work in an accelerated timeline. The Blue Line is Metro’s oldest line, and this work has to be done, one way or another.”
As for how it will directly affect transiters, Metro’s Steve Hymon assures that customers need not take action now but definitely need to be prepared and aware of new information about the extensive closure.
“We want to give everyone a heads-up as early as possible that major work is coming and that we continue to strive to improve the Blue Line,” Hymon said. “As we get closer to the work, we’ll be releasing information about bus shuttles that will be replacing train trips. We will be offering a variety of shuttles to meet short, medium and end-to-end trips as part of an effort to minimize inconvenience to our customers as much as possible.”
To view the breakdown of the expenditure plan for the “New Blue,” click here.
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