On Friday, May 20, Los Angeles debuted a game-changing new public transit station. The new Metro Expo rail station in downtown Santa Monica is located just a few walking blocks from the beach.
For the first time in 63 years, you can now take rail service from downtown Los Angeles to the beach. Once again, LA is proving that it doesn’t deserve such a bad rap when it comes to transportation.
The local elected Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, featured in the above video, points out all the obvious reasons why this new rail extension will be a success.
And from first-hand account, it already is a huge success. PUBLIC’s Santa Monica retail store is located at 2714 Main St only a 15 minute bike ride from the Santa Monica Metro station.
To celebrate the new Metro Expo Line Grand Opening this past weekend, PUBLIC Bikes Santa Monica partnered with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Sustainable Streets, Breeze Bike Share, and the Santa Monica Bike Center for a city-wide Santa Monica Bike + Train Tour.
What exactly is a “Bike + Train Tour” you might ask?
We took 50 participants, via Breeze Bike Share bikes, on a bike ride to Bergamot Station (led by Certified League Cycling Instructors!) to experience the brand new Expo Line. It was a great way to show people how easy it is to ride a bike – whether their personal one or a Breeze Bike Share bike – to connect with rail serve.
We started out checking in registered participants at our PUBLIC Santa Monica store throughout the day. Each participant got a free helmet and goodie bag.
Once everyone was set up, we showed them how to unlock and use Breeze Bike Share bikes, which are located all over Santa Monica, including a station just a few blocks from PUBLIC Bikes Santa Monica. There are convenient Breeze Bike Share stations at each of the three new metro stops in Santa Monica so it’s easy to connect bikes with rail service.
We then started riding through town to showcase some of the great bicycle infrastructure, including this two-way protected bike lane that runs through the middle of Pico Blvd.
We rode along the green bike lane on Michigan Ave.
We dropped off our Breeze Bike Share bikes at the new Bergamot/26th Street Metro station to head west to the new downtown Santa Monica Metro station.
The new Metro line to the beach is so successful that during peak times, it will likely be packed with riders wanting to avoid having to drive. The good news is that with high ridership, Metro will need to add capacity and frequency to accommodate more people making the switch to rail service.
One of the only downsides we noticed with the new Metro line is the train car capacity to handle bicycles. When the train is not full, it’s easy to bring your bike onto the train. But when it’s full, there aren’t any train cars dedicated to bike parking.
Until this happens, it will be a challenge to bring your own bicycle on the train to the beach on a busy, crowded weekend day. This is unfortunate given that one of the main advantages of rail service to Santa Monica is the opportunity to bring your own bicycle – possibly your own PUBLIC bike! – on the train and then riding your bike along the beach or elsewhere in the westside of Los Angeles County.
The beautiful new downtown Santa Monica Metro station is located just a few blocks from the beach. And it’s just a 15 minute bus ride or Breeze Bike ride away from our PUBLIC Bikes Santa Monica store at 2714 Main Street.
We even spotted a PUBLIC bike parked at the Santa Monica metro station.
Outside the Santa Monica Metro station is an all-way pedestrian scramble intersection that allows large numbers of pedestrians to safely cross the main intersection next to the station.
And there are new wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes that allow people to safely and comfortably connect from the beach or downtown to the Metro Station.
Our successful Bike + Train tour reminded us of some very important lessons about public transit, bike share and urban planning. The key is to make things easy and accessible to a wide array of people. We saw lots of potential in terms of the “last mile” connection between this new Metro station, bike share, and bus lines to assist people to get to where they want to go.
It was exciting to see how many people will be taking advantage of this game-changing transit extension. When you ride a bike, it usually means “One Less Car” on the road.
With this Metro extension, everyday literally thousands of cars will be removed from Los Angeles streets because people have a convenient option to get to the beach, downtown Santa Monica, or some nearby destination.
Los Angeles, you just got a lot cooler – and greener.