Metro wants to open service on the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor by the 2028 Olympics, but the agency doesn’t yet know exactly where a significant portion of the route—the section that runs into Downtown Los Angeles—will be built.
A Metro committee on Wednesday weighed a proposal to study more route options for the future light rail line’s path through Downtown LA, and decided to move the motion for consideration at the agency’s next meeting of its full Board of Directors.
Metro has already studied four route options for the rail line—all of which end at Union Station. The new options would have the line ending south of Union Station, either in the Financial District or the Arts District.
Once it’s complete, the West Santa Ana Branch transit corridor will connect Southeast LA County’s Gateway Cities to Downtown LA. The route is still being planned, but it’s shaping up to be an approximately 20-mile line with anywhere from 11 to 15 stations, depending on exactly where Metro decides to build it.
The line was originally scheduled to open in multiple phases between 2028 and 2041 under the voter approved Measure M expenditure plan. But Metro is now shooting to complete the entire rail line by 2028, under Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Twenty-Eight by ’28 initiative.
Opening the line by 2028 is an ambitious goal, even more so when considering the train’s northern alignment is still an open question at this point in the planning process.
So far, Metro has considered four potential routes for the line’s alignment between the proposed Pacific/Randolph station in downtown Huntington Park and Downtown Los Angeles. Two of these options these options run west from Huntington Park to the Blue Line’s Slauson station, at which point the line would follow Alameda Street all the way north to Union Station. The other two options turn north from Huntington Park, and would run to Union Station via Santa Fe Avenue.
But during Metro’s community engagement process, the agency learned that Little Tokyo, Arts District, and Downtown Industrial District stakeholders all broadly oppose an at-grade or aerial alignment for the train along Alameda Street. Further complicating matters are space constraints at Union Station, which could possibly lead to a complicated transfer process—much like the Gold to Red/Purple line transfer today—should the line run to Union Station.
That’s why Metro wants to consider more route options through Downtown. Though some options still run to Union Station, three do not. One of these would connect to a potential Red/Purple Line extension along the LA river in the Arts District.
The two others would snake through Downtown and end at a yet-to-be-determined location in the “Downtown Transit Core,” defined in the map below as the area ringed by the Pershing Square, 7th Street/Metro, and Regional Connector project stations.
All of the options mean more Downtown LA rail stations, though exactly where depends on which alignment Metro chooses to build.
Metro’s full Board of Directors will weigh in on the options later this month at the agency’s next board meeting on March 1.
Assuming the full board gives the green light, Metro will continue studying and conducting community engagement for the revised northern alignment options over the next few months.
By late spring, Metro aims to have a more concrete idea of where to build the train, at which point the agency will be able reinitiate the environmental review process for the entire rail line.