Train: Santa Monicans will have to switch trains, but it is possible to take Metro from the beach to LAX. Courtesy image

A train trip from Santa Monica to LAX?

The notion may not be wild to the millions of visitors Santa Monica welcomes from mass transit-oriented cities like New York and London, but real Angelenos might find the concept hard to imagine. That’s going to change — eventually.

The first leg of the brand new K Line, the first new rail line LA Metro has opened since launching the Expo Line in 2012, debuts on Friday, Oct. 7. Though the train will eventually connect the E Line (Expo) to LAX via a transfer at Crenshaw Boulevard, for now, the first seven stations are set to open, from Expo/Crenshaw to Westchester/Veterans just west of the San Diego (405) Freeway in Westchester. In 2024, an LAX/Metro Transit Center station will open, granting airport access (via the long awaited LAX Airport Metro Connector). 

In total, the project’s total cost comes to $2.15 billion, not including the LAX Metro connector.

Eventually, the hot pink K Line will connect to the forest green C Line in Torrance, further linking LA’s transit into a web, rather than the present hub and spoke model.

“On the north side of the K Line, we’re in the early planning stages of a project to extend the K Line north to the D Line (Purple) subway, West Hollywood and the B Line (Red) in Hollywood,” an LA Metro social media post announcing the K Line’s grand opening detailed. But if history is any indication, those projects could be more than a decade away.

For now, the train line will offer service that lets out in Downtown Inglewood, about a 20 to 30 minute walk to key venues like SoFi Stadium, where the Rams and Chargers play, and the Forum, where pop star Harry Styles is set to perform for 15 nights this fall. For those who don’t want to hoof it, LA Metro has also promised a SoFi stadium shuttle during events.

“The K Line project has literally been decades in the making,” according to a post published by LA Metro’s blog The Source late last month. 

“The last of the streetcars that served the Crenshaw Corridor stopped running in the mid-1950s and were replaced by buses. A regional rail plan in 1967 — yes, 1967, not a misprint — included a Crenshaw Corridor project. Three more studies in the 1990s and early 2000s identified potential routes for a project most everyone agreed was needed,” the post continued. “But it took the passage of the Measure R sales tax by LA County voters to finally deliver the funds needed to build a Crenshaw project. One year later, the Metro Board of Directors voted to make the project light rail instead of bus rapid transit. Several more years of planning took place before the project broke ground in 2014.”

Even those who may not find themselves riding down to Inglewood this weekend for opening festivities have reason to celebrate: all Metro fees —  rail, bus, and bike share — are waived from Friday through Sunday.

Those who do want to celebrate can visit Leimert Park Plaza for Metro K Line! Fest from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday. Find more information at: art.metro.net/event/k-line-grand-opening.

emily@smdp.com