APTA | Passenger Transport
November 23, 2009

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L.A. Metro Opens Gold Line Extension

Federal, state, and local elected officials joined community leaders and representatives of Los Angeles Metro Nov. 14 to dedicate the new Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension. The light rail line opened to the public the following day with free rides and community celebrations at and around four of the eight new stations: East L.A. Civic Center, Mariachi Plaza, Little Tokyo/Arts District, and Union Station.  Revenue service began the morning of Nov. 16.

Roybal, who represented the community served by the new six-mile light rail line, was in Congress for 30 years until his retirement in 1993; he died in 2005. His daughter, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), was among the participants in the ceremonies.

The light rail extension—under construction for five years and coming in on budget with a flawless construction safety record of more than four million hours—links East Los Angeles with Pasadena along the Metro Gold Line, and connects with the light rail Metro Blue and Green lines, the Metro Red and Purple subway lines, and the Metro Orange Line dedicated busway. Its opening brings the Metro system to a total of 79 miles of rail.

“For the first time in nearly half a century—since the last trolley ran down First Street—rail will again carry passengers from downtown L.A. to East Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “This caps a 20-year battle to bring rail back to East L.A., one of the most transit-dependent communities in Los Angeles.”

“With the opening of ‘La Linea de Oro’—the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension—Eastside residents now have access to jobs, schools, medical centers, shopping, entertainment, and cultural opportunities throughout our county,” said Gloria Molina, a Los Angeles County supervisor and Metro Board member. “In turn, the region will get the benefit of Eastside talent; our rich cultural heritage; our dedicated work ethic; and our welcoming business climate. It’s a winning combination for the whole county.”

Roybal-Allard noted her father’s longtime support of rail service to the Eastside neighborhood, adding: “He worked long and hard towards that end. It has been my pleasure to continue that fight, and today his dream of affordable, clean, and efficient transportation is becoming a reality.”

The first Eastside Extension train, carrying officials from Union Station, broke through a banner as confetti was strewn, fireworks cannons were fired, and a band played, marking the beginning of the dedication. Other event speakers included Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Judy Chu (D-CA); Metro Chief Executive Officer Art Leahy; and Metro Board Chair Ara Najarian.

Two of the extension’s eight stations are underground, at Soto and Mariachi Plaza, and the line includes 1.7 miles of underground track. The design of each station incorporates art created specifically for each location.

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