The extension of the Expo Line to Santa Monica seemingly makes the coastal city and its beaches more accessible to people throughout the county, from residents and workers to tourists and recreation seekers.
Well, what about surfers? Will they ride the train before they ride the waves?
Surfboard will be allowed on the light-rail line, whose buildout from Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica is scheduled to open to the public May 20.
That’s according to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo, who said the public transit agency is currently developing language about surfboards to add to its conduct code.
“The code of conduct doesn’t mention surfboards,” he said. “We’re applying common-sense safety measures like we have for bikes. When the trains are full, we tell the bicyclists to wait for another train. We don’t let them board the train — not because bikes are forbidden but because it’s a safety issue.
“That’s going to apply to the surfboards. We’re working on the language to provide some guidance on what to do.”
The main concern, Ubaldo said, is that surfboards could potentially injure riders or make it harder for people to get off the train in an emergency.
“They’re allowed as long as they don’t create any safety issues,” he said.
But Metro officials don’t anticipate surfboards being much of a problem.
For one, surfers often get to the water early in the morning and leave well before the crowds arrive. So even if surfers take the Expo Line, Ubaldo said, the trains likely won’t be crowded at those times.
Secondly, the fact that the terminus station is still a significant distance from the shore will likely make surfers consider alternatives to the the train. Otherwise, they would have to carry their boards while walking from the Downtown Santa Monica station (at Colorado Avenue and 4th Street) to the Santa Monica Pier via the Colorado Esplanade before hauling it down to the sand.
“They mostly travel in their own vehicles,” Ubaldo said.
Plus, many surfers in the county probably wouldn’t choose Santa Monica as a destination in the first place due to the tourist crowds, preferring to ride the waves down towards Huntington Beach or up towards Malibu.
The light-rail line that services Australia’s eastern coast has special racks for storing surfboards, according to a 2014 article in that country’s Courier-Mail newspaper. That kind of accommodation won’t be available on the Expo Line.
Meanwhile, there’s another mode of transportation for which Metro officials are trying to cope up with rules and guidelines: hoverboards.
The battery-powered two-wheeled balancing boards, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, are allowed on the transit system as long as they’re carried. People are not allowed to ride hoverboards on the trains or platforms, Ubaldo said.
“We are preparing language to make changes and address that issue,” he said.
The same general principles apply to skateboards, scooters and other personal transit devices.