Blue Line (Los Angeles Metro)

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A Line (Blue)
A Line (Blue) 
Other name(s)Blue Line (1990–2019)
Type Light rail
System Los Angeles Metro Rail
StatusIn service
Termini Downtown Long Beach
7th Street/Metro Center
Daily ridership63,008 (Oct. 2018; avg. weekday) [1]
Ridership22,383,828 (2017) [1]
Line number801
Website Blue Line
OpenedJuly 14, 1990; 29 years ago (July 14, 1990)
Owner Metro (LACMTA)
CharacterMostly at-grade in private right-of-way, with some street-running, elevated and underground sections.
Rolling stockTrains run in 2–3 car consists
Line length22.0 mi (35.4 km) [3]
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
( standard gauge)
Electrification750  V  DC overhead catenary ( overhead rigid rail; tunnel only) [2]
Operating speed55 mph (89 km/h)
Route map

Regional Connector
(under construction)
7th Street/Metro Center
  B Line (Red)  D Line (Purple)  E Line (Expo)  J Line (Silver) 
  E Line (Expo)  J Line (Silver) 
E Line (Expo) 
E Line
to Downtown Santa Monica
J Line (Silver) 
San Pedro Street
103rd Street/Watts Towers
Rosa Parks
C Line (Green) 
Del Amo
Willow Street
Pacific Coast Highway
Anaheim Street
5th Street
Pacific Avenue
1st Street
Downtown Long Beach
Handicapped/disabled access all stations accessible
Detailed diagram
showing all crossings
7th Street/
Metro Center
  B Line (Red)  D Line (Purple)  E Line (Expo)  J Line (Silver) 
Flower Street Tunnel
Flower Street
  E Line (Expo)  J Line (Silver) 
↑ Flower Street
J Line (Silver) 
San Pedro
Washington Boulevard
20th Street
24th Street
41st Street
Vernon Avenue
48th Place
55th Street
Slauson Avenue
60th Street
Gage Avenue
Florence Avenue
Nedeau Street
92nd Street
Century Boulevard
103rd Street
103rd Street/Watts Towers
108th Street
Wilmington Avenue
Imperial Highway
C Line (Green) 
Willowbrook/Rosa Parks
119th Street
124th Street
El Segundo Boulevard
130th Street
Stockwell Street
Rosecrans Avenue
Elm Street
Compton Boulevard
Myrrh Street
Alondra Boulevard
Greenleaf Boulevard
Artesia Boulevard
Manville Avenue
SR 47 (Alameda Street)
Santa Fe Avenue
Del Amo
Del Amo Boulevard
Division 11 OMSF
Wardlow Road
Spring Street
Willow Street
Long Beach Blvd
Pacific Coast Highway
Anaheim Street
Eighth St ↔
Pacific Avenue
5th Street
Pacific Ave ↑
1st Street
Downtown Long Beach
↔ First Street ( Long Beach Transit Mall)

The A Line (formerly the Blue Line) [4] [5] is a 22.0-mile (35.4 km) light rail line running north–south between Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, passing through Downtown Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton, Rancho Dominguez, and Long Beach in Los Angeles County. It is one of six lines in the Metro Rail system. Opened in 1990, it is the system's oldest and third-busiest line with an estimated 22.38 million boardings per year as of December 2017. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. [6]

The A Line (Blue) passes near the cities of Vernon, Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, and Carson. The famous Watts Towers art installation is visible from the train tracks near 103rd Street station. The under-construction Regional Connector will directly link this line to Union Station and into the San Gabriel Valley along the current route of the L Line.

Service description

Map of the A Line, including the under-construction 2021 Regional Connector extension. Dashed lines indicate Metro routes planned or under construction.

Route description

The A Line (Blue) runs 22.0 miles (35.4 km) between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach and has 22 stations. [3]

The line's northern terminus is the underground 7th Street/Metro Center station, after rising to street level, trains run south along Flower Street, sharing tracks with the E Line (Expo). Passengers can connect to the J Line (Silver) bus rapid transit line at 7th Street/Metro Center, Pico, and Grand stations. The A and E Lines diverge at Flower Street and Washington Boulevard just south of downtown Los Angeles. Here the A Line (Blue) turns east on Washington Boulevard before turning south on Long Beach Avenue where it enters the former Pacific Electric right-of-way. This historic rail corridor has four tracks, with two used by Metro Rail trains and two by freight trains. There are some elevated sections as this private right of way cuts through more densely populated areas. Passengers can connect with the C Line (Green) at the Willowbrook station. Just south of Willow station, A Line (Blue) trains exit the rail corridor and follow Long Beach Boulevard into the city of Long Beach, where trains travel through the Long Beach Transit Mall while making a loop using 1st Street, Pacific Avenue and 8th Street.

Hours of operation

Trains run between approximately 4:45 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the following morning. [7] On Friday and Saturday evenings, trains are extended until 2:00 a.m. of the following morning. First and last train times are as follows:

To/From Long Beach

  • First Train to 7th Street/Metro Center: 4:46 a.m.
  • Last Train to 7th Street/Metro Center: 12:03 a.m. (2:07 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings)
  • First Train to Long Beach: 5:00 a.m.
  • Last Train to Long Beach: 1:01 a.m. (2:05 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings)

Of note, some trains operate at later or earlier times due to the A Line (Blue) making the turnaround in Downtown Long Beach.


Trains on the A Line (Blue) operate every six minutes during peak hours Monday through Friday. [8] They operate every twelve minutes during the daytime weekdays and all day on the weekends after approximately 9 a.m. (with a 15-minute headway early Saturday and Sunday mornings). Night service consists of ten-minute headways.

Originally[ when?] during peak hours, every other train served only the stations between Willow and 7th Street/Metro Center to decrease the headway on that portion of the route. Willow was chosen because of its proximity to the A Line (Blue) storage yard and because it was the last southbound station with a park-and-ride lot. In the evening rush hour, riders saw some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach". Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach had to exit at Willow Station and wait for the next train, which would terminate at the Downtown Long Beach Station. This was discontinued after the New Blue Improvements Project was completed in 2019, with all trains now serving the full route from end to end. [9]


When the A Line (Blue) began operation in 1990, it was projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000. [10] However, it performed much better than expected, with daily ridership reaching 12,000 passengers within the first months of service and reaching 32,000 by the end of the first year of service. [10]

As of October 2018, the Blue Line had an average weekday ridership of 63,008, and Saturday and Sunday boardings of 30,579 and 30,314, respectively. [1] In 2017, the line saw a total of 22.38 million boardings.


Nippon Sharyo P865 train leaving Downtown Long Beach station.

Much of the current A Line (Blue) follows the route of the Pacific Electric Railway's Long Beach streetcar service; service on the route ended in 1961. The line initially opened on Saturday, July 14, 1990, at a cost of US$877 million, [3] and ran from Willow to Pico. In 1991, it was extended south to Downtown Long Beach and north to 7th St/Metro Center.

A mass transit extension to Pasadena was originally conceived as the "Red Line Eastside extension" and as the "Pasadena Blue Line." However, in 1998, voters passed a ballot measure which banned the use of sales tax revenue for subway projects. [11] As a result, the proposed extension opened as the Gold Line in 2003.

From 1999 to 2001, the Blue Line underwent a US$11 million project to lengthen 19 of its platforms so that they could accommodate three-car trains. [12]

In 2014, Metro announced the "New Blue Improvements Project" to renovate and modernize the system. In 2019, half the line was closed for five months each (10 months in total), with Metro providing bus shuttle service to compensate for the lack of rail service. Metro officially reopened the line on November 2, 2019, rebranding it as the A Line (Blue). [4] [13] [14]

Future developments

Regional Connector Transit Project

Metro is currently constructing the Regional Connector, a light rail subway tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles that will connect the A and E Lines to the L Line (Gold) and allow a seamless "one-seat ride" between the A and E Lines' current terminus at 7th Street/Metro Center and Union Station. When this project is completed, the A, E, and L Lines will be simplified into the following: [15]

  • A Line (Blue)
    • Northeastern half of the L Line (Gold) (north of Little Tokyo) will serve as an extension to current A Line
    • Will become world's longest light rail line at 49 mi (79 km) long, surpassing the 42 mi (68 km) Coast Tram in Belgium [16] [17]
    • Gold Line Foothill Extension will also be absorbed under the A Line, extending it further to Montclair upon completion
  • E Line (recolored from aqua to gold)
    • Southern half of Gold Line to East L.A. will be absorbed under current E Line (Expo)
    • It will not connect to Union Station

The groundbreaking for the construction of the Regional Connector Transit Corridor took place on September 30, 2014, and it is expected to be in public service in 2022.

Current issues

Capacity limits

A Line train arriving at 7th Street Metro Center.

The line often operates at capacity, and various options to increase capacity have been considered, such as four-car trains or more frequent trains. Both have problems: it would be difficult or impossible to lengthen some of the station platforms, and the number of trains already causes delays for other vehicles at level crossings. Thus it may not be possible to increase A Line (Blue) ridership without an extremely expensive grade-separation project, either by elevation, by an entrenchment method similar to that used by the nearby Alameda Corridor freight rail "expressway", or by building another parallel transit corridor to relieve capacity strains from the A Line (Blue). When the Regional Connector project linking A and E Line tracks with the L Line tracks in Little Tokyo is completed, this may result in even more capacity problems, with ridership expected to grow even more once the connector is open for service.

Safety at level crossings

A Metro A Line train heading to Long Beach arrives at Willow Station.

Over 120 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at A Line (Blue) level crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 800 collisions, [18] [19] making the line easily the country's deadliest and most collision-prone rail line. [20]

Train at the Slauson station

In 1998, the MTA commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. to evaluate the cause of A Line collisions and recommend affordable solutions. The study reported 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 local population density that leads to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that creates literacy and language difficulties for 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 traffic in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (89 km/h) between stations.

The collision rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the A Line (Blue) shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Washington station and Del Amo station. The gates prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras along some problem intersections issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates.

Interior of a Nippon Sharyo train. The Metro Expo (E) Line used these trains for Phase 1 service.

Station listing

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

Station Connections/Notes Date opened City
7th Street/Metro Center

*Weekday rush hours only

February 15, 1991 Downtown Los Angeles
Pico July 14, 1990
Grand/LATTC July 14, 1990
San Pedro Street July 14, 1990 Los Angeles ( South Central)
Washington July 14, 1990
Vernon July 14, 1990
Slauson July 14, 1990
Florence July 14, 1990 Florence-Graham
Firestone July 14, 1990
103rd Street/Watts Towers July 14, 1990 Los Angeles ( Watts)
Willowbrook July 14, 1990 Willowbrook

*Late-night (owl) service only

July 14, 1990 Compton
Artesia July 14, 1990
Del Amo July 14, 1990 Carson
Wardlow July 14, 1990 Long Beach
Willow Street July 14, 1990
Pacific Coast Highway July 14, 1990
Anaheim Street July 14, 1990
5th Street
(southbound only)
September 1990
1st Street
(southbound only)
September 1990
Downtown Long Beach
(northbound only)
September 1990
Pacific Avenue
(northbound only)
September 1990


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

Maintenance facilities

The A Line (Blue) 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 A Line (Blue). 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

Blue Line train in the 1990s

The A Line (Blue) uses three different types of rolling stock from Nippon Sharyo, Siemens, and Kinkisharyo.

When the Blue Line first opened in 1990, the line had 54 Nippon Sharyo P865 light rail vehicles, numbered 100–153. These cars wore a unique livery consisting of several blue stripes and a single red stripe, reflecting the Blue Line's color designation and its Pacific Electric Red Car heritage.

In 2000, Metro transferred all 15 Nippon Sharyo P2020 light rail vehicles from the Green Line to the Blue Line fleet. These light rail vehicles were nearly identical to the older P865 model, but were about five years newer. [21]

In 2012, Metro transferred some Siemens P2000 light rail vehicles from the Gold Line to the Blue Line fleet.

In 2017, the Blue Line received 78 Kinkisharyo P3010 light rail vehicles, the first new fleet of vehicles for the line since it opened in 1990. As the P3010 fleet was introduced, Metro gradually retired all of the remaining P865 light rail vehicles, the original vehicles used on the line.

A Line (Blue) vehicles are maintained and stored at the Division 11 yard in Long Beach between Del Amo and Wardlow stations. This facility has capacity for storing and maintaining 86 light rail cars.

In popular culture

  • In the 1992 film Lethal Weapon 3, Martin Riggs ( Mel Gibson) jumps onto a departing Blue Line train at 7th Street/Metro Center. Hanging onto the windshield, he tells the driver to speed up after Jack Travis ( Stuart Wilson), who is riding in a hijacked hi-rail truck. Riggs and Travis exchange gunfire as they exit the tunnel, but the train stops at Pico, forcing Riggs to temporarily continue on foot. This was the first major film to feature Metro Rail. [22]
  • The RTD released a promotional video featuring the fictional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team in 1990 to promote and showcase the Blue Line. [23]
  • In the 2001 film Training Day, a scene depicts two characters driving through South Los Angeles alongside the Blue Line tracks. A train passes by and sounds its horn. Another Blue Line train can be seen in a later scene on an elevated bridge.
  • In the 2003 film The Italian Job, the main characters drive BMW Mini Coopers into the 7th Street/Metro Center station during the final heist scene. An incoming Blue Line train nearly hits them before the character Lyle cuts the power, which stops the train.
  • In the 1995 film Heat, the movie opens with Neil McCauley ( Robert De Niro) getting off a train at Firestone station. A Blue Line train is also featured on the film poster.
  • The final scene of the 2004 film Collateral takes place on the Blue Line, starting at 7th Street/Metro Center on a southbound train.
  • In the 2019 film Captain Marvel, a major sequence features Captain Marvel (then known as Vers) chasing a Skrull character on the Blue Line. Characters Nick Fury and Phil Coulson are attempting to follow her in a car, but lose her when the train reaches 7th St/Metro Center.


  1. ^ a b c "Interactive Estimated Ridership Stats". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. November 15, 2018. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "Installing new overhead conductor rail in DTLA". Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "Facts at a Glance". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Fonseca, Ryan (September 25, 2019). "Ignore Those 'Line A' Signs. Metro's Blue Line Will Reopen As The 'A Line'". Southern California Public Radio. Archived from the original on September 26, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  5. ^ "Light rail to Long Beach will reopen soon — but it won't be called the Blue Line". Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "Metro Ridership". Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  7. ^ "Blue line timetable" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 15, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  8. ^ "Metro Bus & Rail System Map" (PDF). Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. December 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Curiel, Socorro C. "Los Angeles County Transportation Commission Joins SHPE Strategic Technical Employment Program (STEP)". Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Hispanic Engineer. Career Communications Group, Inc. (Fall 1991): 20. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Anti-Subway Funding Measure Wins Easily". Los Angeles Times. November 4, 1998. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  12. ^ "MTA Starts 3-Car Train Service on Busy Metro Blue Line". Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "Light rail to Long Beach will reopen soon — but it won't be called the Blue Line". Los Angeles Times. October 17, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  14. ^ "A Line (Blue)". Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  15. ^ "The most anticipated transit projects opening in time for the 2028 LA Olympics". Curbed LA. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  16. ^ "The Coastal Tram". The Belgian Coast. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  17. ^ Broverman, Neal (October 7, 2016). "Metro's Regional Connector Will Change Everything Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  18. ^ Nelson, Laura (March 28, 2015). "Metro light rail crash near USC renews debate on rail safety". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  19. ^ "Summary of Blue Line Train/Vehicle and Train/Pedestrian Accidents". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. June 2007.
  20. ^ "Light rail fatalities, 1990–2002". American Public Transportation Association. May 20, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved October 22, 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  22. ^ Roe, Mike. "Captain Marvel Takes LA Metro, But She's Not The First Movie Hero To Go For A Ride". LAist. Archived from the original on March 8, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  23. ^ Rolfe, James. "TMNT – Live Action Leftovers". YouTube. Retrieved January 26, 2016.

External links

Route map:

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