Blue Line (Los Angeles Metro)

Metro Blue Line

Los Angeles Metro rapid transit line
Image of Blue Line train.
Blue Line train entering the Imperial/Wilmington station.
System Metro Rail
Operated by LAMetroLogo.svg Metro (LACMTA)
Line number 801
Type light rail
Status in service
Opened July 14, 1990
Daily ridership 90,109 (July 2011)[1]
Website Blue Line
Character Mostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections.
Termini 7th St/Metro Center
Long Beach Transit Mall
Stations 22
Line length 22.0 mi (35.4 km)
No. of tracks 2
Track gauge standard: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 750 V DC overhead catenary
Rolling stock Nippon Sharyo P865 and P2020
Siemens P2000 (future)
Ansaldobreda P2550 (future)
Train length
three cars
Yard Division 11 (Long Beach)
Route map
Unknown BSicon "uextCONTg"
Regional Connector
Unknown BSicon "utCONTr"
Unknown BSicon "utKBHFxa" + Unknown BSicon "utBHFq"
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7th St/Metro Center (Red, Purple & Expo Lines)
Urban tunnel straight track
Flower Street (tunnel)
Exit urban tunnel
Urban station on track
Pico(Expo Lines)
Unknown BSicon "uAKRZu"
I-10 (CA).svg Interstate 10
Unknown BSicon "uexCONTr" Waterway with unused branch to right
Expo Line
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
San Pedro
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Unknown BSicon "uBRÜCKE" + Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Unknown BSicon "uBRÜCKE" + Urban station on track
Urban station on track
103rd Street-Kenneth Hahn
Unknown BSicon "uCONTr"
Unknown BSicon "uTHSTu" + Unknown BSicon "uhBHFq"
Unknown BSicon "uCONTl"
Imperial/Wilmington/Rosa Parks Green Line
Unknown BSicon "uAKRZu"
I-105 (CA).svg Interstate 105
Urban station on track
Unknown BSicon "uWBRÜCKE1"
Compton Creek
Urban station on track
Unknown BSicon "uAKRZu"
California 91.svg State Route 91
Unknown BSicon "uBRÜCKEa" + Urban station on track
Del Amo
Unknown BSicon "uhAKRZo"
I-710 (CA).svg Interstate 710
Unknown BSicon "uhWSTR"
Los Angeles River
Unknown BSicon "uBRÜCKEe"
Unknown BSicon "uAKRZu"
I-405 (CA).svg Interstate 405
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Urban station on track
Pacific Coast Highway
Urban station on track
Unknown BSicon "uBS2+l" Unknown BSicon "uBS2+r"
Unknown BSicon "uSTRg" Urban station on track
5th Street
Urban station on track Urban straight track one-way forward
Unknown BSicon "uSTRg" Urban station on track
1st Street
Urban station on track Urban straight track one-way forward
Long Beach Transit Mall
Waterway turning to left Waterway turning to right

This route map: view · talk · edit

The Blue Line is a light rail line running north-south route between Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles passing through Downtown LA, including South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, and Long Beach in the Los Angeles County; it is one of five lines in the Metro Rail System. Opened in 1990, it is the oldest and second busiest line in the system with an estimated 26.26 million boardings per year.[1] The proposed Regional Connector would link it to Union Station. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Blue Line passes near to the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers can be seen from the train near 103rd Street Station.


Service description


The line runs South from 7th St/Metro Center along Flower Street turning South East onto Washington Boulevard and then South onto Long Beach East Avenue before joining the Pacific Electric four track right-of-way to Willow Station which runs as far as Long Beach where the line follows Long Beach Boulevard to its destination. There are some elevated structures just south of Downtown and a brief tunneled section in Downtown Los Angeles. It connects with the Green Line at Imperial/Wilmington station.

During peak hours, every other train serves only the stations between Willow and 7th St/Metro Center to increase the headway on that portion of the route. Willow was chosen because of its proximity to the Blue Line storage yard and because it is the last Outbound station with a Park and Ride lot. In the afternoon/evening rush, riders will see some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach." Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach must exit at Willow and wait for the next train which will terminates at Long Beach Transit Mall.


The Blue Line was originally projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000. Within the first months of service, daily ridership had reached 12,000, and by the end of the first year of service, daily ridership was at 32,000.[citation needed]

As of July 2010, Metro estimated that the Blue Line had 82,840 average weekday boardings, and 26.26 million yearly boardings. The line is 22 miles (35 km) long, with 22 stations. There are 69 cars in the fleet.[1]


The original 'red line' streetcar line service on the route, which was operated by Pacific Electric Railway, began service in 1902. In 1958 the remains of the then troubled Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway systems were taken over by the original Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and the line was soon converted to bus operation in 1961. The transit authority was then taken over by the Southern California Rapid Transit District in 1964.

The current line opened in 1990 at a cost of US$877 million.[citation needed] Design and construction was managed by the Rail Construction Corporation, now a subsidiary of the new new Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro)[2] which was formed in 1993 by a merger of the Southern California Rapid Transit District and the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission.

It was planned that the current line would continue to Union Station but work on this project was halted indefinitely after the 1998 county ballot was approved which banned the use of existing sales tax revenue for subway projects.[citation needed] Work began on a section to Pasadena in 1998 but this was also suspended following the ballot. Adam Schiff subsequently authored a bill that created a separate authority to continue work on the Pasadena section, construction began again in 2000 and on opening it was branded as the Gold Line since there was no direct connection between its starting point at Union Station and the blue line. There are current proposals join these two lines by building 'Regional Connector tunnel' between the 7th Street station terminus of the blue line and Little Tokyo/Arts District station on the now extended Gold Line.

The line was originally operated by two-car trains, but proved more popular than expected and 19 platforms were lengthened to accommodate three-car trains in 2000-2001 at a cost of US $11 million. These 'three car trains' are actually articulated double rail cars, meaning an effective six car train.

In 2006, the Metro Blue Line began using automated stop announcements after the Metro Green and Gold Lines had automated stop announcements since 2004. The announcements do not have the same voice as the Siemens trains operated on the Metro Green and Gold Lines but is the same voice as the one that can be heard on the AnsaldoBreda trains of the Metro Red/Purple Lines and Gold Line.

Throughout 2007, many Metro Blue Line intersections are undergoing track repairs, taking place from Friday evenings to Sunday evenings. Both tracks would go out of service and passengers would have to board buses to get around the construction areas. Since July 2007, most of the intersections being repaired are between the Imperial/Wilmington and Compton Stations.[1]

Construction of the new Expo line which links with the Blue Line at 7th Street started in 2006[3] and is due to enter service in early 2012.[4]

Proposed developments

Regional Connector (extension into Downtown Los Angeles)

Metro is currently planning the Regional Connector, a subway project in Downtown Los Angeles that would connect the Blue Line to the Expo Line, Gold Line, and Eastside Line into a single system. When this project becomes reality, it will act as an extension of the Blue Line by allowing Blue Line trains to pass through Downtown towards Pasadena, and through to the City of Azusa under a current Gold Line Foothill Extension plan set to open in 2015.

It would address the awkward situation in which passage between lines terminating at Union Station (the Gold Line and Metrolink commuter trains) and the Blue Line requires a transfer to a Red or Purple Line train. Once the Regional Connector project is completed, the Blue Line is expected to travel further north into Pasdadena like it was originally intended for this line and possibly further east into Azusa and Montclair, as the proposed Foothill Extension of the Gold Line is expected to be already completed by the time the connector is open for service.

It is likely that this project will not be revived until after the completion of the Expo Line, which will share track with the Blue Line in the easternmost portions of its route.

Current issues

Capacity limits

The line is often operating at capacity and various options to increase capacity had been considered. Four-car trains or more frequent trains — both have problems; it will be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms and the number of trains is already causing delays for other vehicles at level crossings. As such, Blue Line ridership may not be able to increase without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation or by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway" or building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the Blue Line. If the planned Regional Connector project linking Blue and Expo Line tracks with the Gold Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed (currently in the planning stages), this may result in even more capacity problems with the ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.

Safety at level crossings

Over 100 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at Blue Line level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 accidents,[5] making the line by multiples the deadliest and most accident-prone rail line in the country.[6]

Train at the Slauson station

In 1998, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. was commissioned by MTA to evaluate the cause of Blue Line accidents and make recommendations for fiscally realistic mitigation measures. The study reported that the high ridership (over 70,000 per day) was a contributor:

"The MBL has one of the highest ridership counts for light rail lines in the Country. This factor is perhaps the most important contributor to the grade crossing accident rate. The high ridership results in increased pedestrian traffic near stations as compared to other light rail systems. In addition, although MTA Operations does not allow high passenger loads dictate safe operations, there is pressure to maintain travel times and headway schedule requirements (e.g., passenger trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach in less than one hour)."

Other identified contributing factors were the high population density area that leads to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that create literacy and language challenges to public education campaigns, driver frustration due to the slow traffic speeds around the line that leads to more risk taking behavior, and the shared right-of-way with freight track in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (88 km/h) between stations.

The accident rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the Blue Line shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Washington station and Del Amo station. The gates effectively prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras are used along some problem intersections which issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates. Yet, accidents and deaths still occur at a rate significantly higher rates than comparable lines.[citation needed] On May 9, 2006, a Blue Line train hits a car on Washington Blvd at San Pedro Street. On December 22, 2006, a Metro Blue Line train crashed into a fire truck. The fire truck was on its way to an emergency. On January 26, 2007, a 14-year old boy named Lavert Baker, Jr. was killed on his way walking home from school by a Blue Line train that was carrying his closest sister.[7]

However, four-quadrant gates are not a feasible mitigation option in the most accident-prone section of the line from Pico station to Washington station and from Willow station to Pacific station. On May 16, 2007, a teenage girl, who was reportedly talking on her cell phone, was killed by a Blue Line train when crossing the tracks without looking both directions.[citation needed]

Station listing

The following is the complete list of stations, from north to south.

Station Connections/Notes Date opened City
7th St/Metro Center Red Line  Purple Line  Blue Line  Silver Line  Harbor Transitway

Metro Local: 14, 16, 18, 20, 37, 51, 52, 53, 55, 60, 62, 66, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 96, 316, 352, 355, 378; Metro Express: 439, 450X*, 460, 487, 489; Metro Rapid: 720, 760, 770; Metro Liner: Silver Line

Other local and commuter services Antelope Valley Transit Authority: 785* City of Santa Clarita Transit: 799* Foothill Transit: 481*, 493*, 497*, 498*, 499*, 699*, Silver Streak LADOT Commuter Express*: 409, 422, 423, 430, 431, 437, 438, 448, 534 LADOT DASH: A, B, C (weekdays only), DD (weekends only), E, F Montebello Transit: 40, 50, 341*, 342*, 343* Orange County Transportation Authority: 701*, 721* Santa Monica Transit: 10 Torrance Transit: 1, 2 * indicates commuter service that operates only during weekday rush hours.

February 15, 1991 Los Angeles
Pico Silver Line;  
Metro Rapid: 730; Metro Local: 30, 81, 439, 442, 460; LADOT DASH: F; LADOT Commuter Express: 419, 422, 423, 438, 448
July 14, 1990
Grand Metro Local: 14, 35, 37, 38, 55, 335, 355, 603; ; LADOT DASH: D, Pico Union/Echo Park; Torrance Transit: 1, 2 July 14, 1990
San Pedro Metro Local: 51, 52, 352; LADOT DASH: E, King-East; Montebello Bus Lines: 50 July 14, 1990
Washington Montebello Bus Lines: 50 July 14, 1990
Vernon Metro Local: 105; Metro Rapid: 705; LADOT DASH: Pueblo Del Rio, Southeast July 14, 1990
Slauson Metro Local: 108, 358; LADOT DASH: Pueblo Del Rio July 14, 1990
Florence Metro Local: 102, 110, 111, 311, 611; LADOT DASH: Chesterfield Square July 14, 1990 Florence
Firestone Metro Local: 55, 115, 254, 355. July 14, 1990
103rd Street/Kenneth Hahn Metro Local: 117, 254, 305, 612; LADOT DASH: Watts July 14, 1990 Los Angeles
Imperial/Wilmington Green Line;
Metro Local: 55, 120, 202, 205, 305, 355, 612; Gardena Municipal Bus Lines: 5; Hahn's Trolley and Shuttle: 1, 2, 3; LADOT DASH Watts; Lynwood Trolley Route: D
July 14, 1990 Willowbrook
Compton Metro Local: 51, 127, 128, 202; CCompton Renaissance Transit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Gardena Municipal Bus Lines: 3; Greyhound Lines July 14, 1990 Compton
Artesia Metro Local: 60, 130, 205, 260; Metro Rapid: 762; Long Beach Transit: 51, 61; Compton Renaissance Transit: 5; Torrance Transit: 6 July 14, 1990
Del Amo Metro Local: 202; Carson Circuit Transit System: D, G; Long Beach Transit: 191, 192, 193 July 14, 1990 Carson
Wardlow July 14, 1990 Long Beach
Willow Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only July 14, 1990
Pacific Coast Highway Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only) July 14, 1990
Anaheim Street Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 July 14, 1990
5th Street (southbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 September 1990
1st Street (southbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 September 1990
Long Beach Transit Mall (southbound only) Metro Local: 60 (Late Night/ Owl service only), 232 September 1990
Pacific (northbound only) September 1990


On Metro Rail Operations' internal timetables, the Blue Line is called line 801.

Maintenance facilities

The Blue Line is operated out of the Division 11 Yard (208th Street Yard) located at 4170 East 208th Street. This yard stores the fleet used on the Blue Line. It is also where Heavy maintenance is done on the fleet. The Yard is located between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. Trains get to this yard via a Wye Junction on the southbound tracks. Northbound trains can enter and exit the yard via the cross tracks on the North and South side of the Junction.

Rolling stock

The Blue line uses cars from the Nippon Sharyo company. Although three-car lengths are the norm due to high ridership, some two-car pairs are used late nights and weekend mornings.

When the Metro Blue Line opened, the line originally had 54 cars (P865; 100-153). In 2000, the Blue Line added 14 cars (P2020; 154-168) from the Metro Green Line after the Green Line began using Siemens P2000 cars. [2] The Blue Line currently has 68 train cars in their fleet.

Currently, 67 cars are in the Yellow/White livery. Past livery was sky/light/dark blue and red lines on white. In 2000, train cars 109 and 148 were painted Red to celebrate an anniversary of the Pacific Electric Railway. These red painted cars were repainted to the sleek silver livery, similar to the 700-750 series cars, but in 2008, Cars 109 and 148 were repainted to match most of the fleet. [3] Also, car 105 is in current livery, but is all white with black lettering, similar to Metro Gold Line car 302

An overhaul is planned for the Nippon-Sharyo P865 cars, extending their lives for at least an additional decade. After overhaul, 23 P865s will be transferred to the new Expo Line Phase 1.[8] The Metro Gold Line will give up its Siemens P2000 cars to the Blue Line, and five Ansaldobreda P2550 cars will also be assigned to the Blue Line.

Blue Line vehicles are maintained and stored at the Division 11 yard in Long Beach. This facility has capacity for storing and maintaining 86 light rail vehicles.


  • In September 2008 a Blue Line train struck a M.T.A bus on one of the tracks; 15 people were injured. A mechanic was taking the bus on a test run and was not injured.[9] This incident happened only one week after the 2008 Chatsworth train collision in which 25 people died following a head-on collision between a Metrolink train and a freight train.
  • In July 2009 a man was killed by a Metro Blue Line train south of Artesia Station. The cause of the accident is unknown.[citation needed]
  • In November 2009 a woman was struck and killed by a train near the Imperial/Wilmington station.[citation needed]
  • In December 2009, a 65 year-old man was struck and killed by an oncoming train at the intersection of Long Beach Avenue and Vernon Avenue as the train was approaching Vernon station.[citation needed]
  • In January 2010, an automobile collided with a Blue Line train at Washington and Olive.[citation needed]
  • In July 2010, a Blue Line train which reportedly ran a red light struck a Police Cruiser on 16th Street & Long Beach Boulevard.[10]
  • In the same month eight people were injured, six of whom were aboard the bus when a Blue Line train collided with another M.T.A bus at Broadway and Washington Boulevard.[11]

In popular culture

In Heat, the opening sequence shows one of the main characters alighting at Firestone station. A Blue Line train is also featured on the movie poster.

In the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, the main characters drive their BMW MINI Coopers into the 7th St/Metro Center station, standing in for the Hollywood/Highland Red Line Station, and are nearly hit by a Blue Line train. The character Lyle cuts all power to the station, stopping the trains.


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