(Photo courtesy of Metro)

The next wave of Expo testing is underway with trains traveling the tracks in anticipation of a spring 2016 opening.

Metro recently took control of most of the Expo line and officials sent out notice this week announcing train testing and operator familiarization on the track.

“These activities are necessary as we lead up to full train service (Spring 2016),” said the document.

Work is ongoing at the maintenance yard and Metro officials said they will determine the official opening day within 30 days of receiving final control over the yard. In the mean time, Metro is asking locals to be aware of activity on the tracks.

The train testing will be similar to the tests administered so far. Trains will be traveling at low speeds along the track to check clearances, test traffic signals and look for mechanical issues. Metro will begin operator familiarization training in the coming months and test trains will now run as necessary between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Santa Monica up to the opening of the line.

Police continue to monitor some of the train/street crossings to keep drivers aware of the newly moving train and Metro has deployed “safety ambassadors” to talk to pedestrians.

According to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo, the Rail Safety Ambassadors work with Metro’s Transit Safety Programs team to encourage the community to adopt safe behaviors; intervening when they observe unsafe behavior; and educating the public about the meaning of warning signs installed at the light rail crossings.

The program was the first to win a Gold Award from the American Public Transportation Association in 2013.

Ubaldo said eight Safety Ambassadors will be posted at key locations along the Expo Line Phase 2 during the testing phase. Their exact location will vary depending on where the test trains are running. He said the program will expand in the next month to a total of 24 Ambassadors posted along the alignment from Bagley/Exposition in Los Angeles to 5th/Colorado in Santa Monica.

In addition to providing education, the Ambassadors are also receiving feedback about the project.

“The public has been informing the Safety Ambassadors about certain safety issues concerning the Expo Line; the Ambassadors then report those comments/concerns back to me and then gets forwarded to the appropriate department either within Metro or outside agencies such as LADOT, City of Santa Monica, law enforcement,” said Ubaldo.

In June 2013 Metro’s Safety Ambassador Program was honored with the first ever Gold Award for program innovation at the 2013 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in Philadelphia.

Metro said anyone driving, walking, biking or just standing near the tracks should be aware of basic safety information. Their advice includes obeying all warning signs, adhering to traffic signals, looking both ways before entering the street, never walking on the tracks and using crosswalks at all times.

The City of Santa Monica recently authorized the installation of new fencing along the center of the track to discourage pedestrians from crossing the street/tracks mid-block.

Visit www.metro.net/projects/exposition for more information.

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