Metro might explore a Blue Line express and other ways to speed up service

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Metro’s Board of Directors may soon consider a host of possible improvements that could speed up service along the delay-prone Blue Line, including an express train between Downtown LA and Long Beach.

A Metro committee will review Thursday a motion from board members Eric Garcetti, Janice Hahn, Robert Garcia, and Jackie Dupont-Walker calling on the agency to implement several short-term measures to speed up service along both the Blue and Expo Lines, and to begin a study of more ambitious options for improving Blue Line performance.

More people ride the Blue Line than any other Metro rail line—and it’s also one that draws the most complaints from riders. The agency right now is spending more than $1 billion to refurbish the railway, which opened in 1990, but those repairs won’t make the train go faster as it makes its way through the surface streets of Downtown LA.

That’s why the authors of the motion are calling for traffic signal priority for both the Blue and Expo Lines in the area around the wye at Washington Boulevard, where the routes intersect. In the short term, this would help both lines arrive on schedule.

The motion also calls on the agency to explore the possibility of creating grade separation along both lines leading up to Pico Station, as well as at other points along the Blue Line route. This would eliminate delays caused by traffic and allow the train to bypass stoplights altogether.

The most significant item called for in the motion is study of a possible express route that would travel along an existing right-of-way that runs alongside the Blue Line tracks between Washington Boulevard and the 710 Freeway. If the right-of-way could be easily converted for light rail use, it would allow passengers to travel between Downtown LA and Long Beach with much greater speed during peak hours.

The motion comes only a few weeks after Garcia, who is mayor of Long Beach, joined Metro’s Board of Directors. In the past, the mayor has discussed the need for improved service along the Blue Line. Hahn, who represents the South Bay as a county supervisor, is also new to the board.

If the motion is approved, a report on the feasibility of the proposed improvements will be presented to the board’s construction committee in July.

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