Santa Monica metro riders will soon be able to ride all the way to Atlantic Ave. in East Los Angeles without switching seats

Santa Monica METRO riders will soon be able to ride all the way to Atlantic Ave. in East Los Angeles without switching seats thanks to the completion of the Regional Connector project set to open on June 16.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced the opening date this week. The project, which began in 2013, is described as a unique rail project in the United States that involves laying 1.9 miles of new track to connect Union Station with the 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown Los Angeles. The Regional Connector merges the L (Gold) line with the A (Blue) and E (Expo) lines, creating two continuous train lines. The project includes three new underground stations: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, Historic Broadway Station, and Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station.

According to Metro, with the opening of the Regional Connector, riders will be able to travel seamlessly from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica without transfers. The project improves connections by bringing together the Gold, Blue, Expo, Red, and Purple lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station. Travelers will have more transfer options and could save up to 20 minutes by eliminating the need to transfer. Metro will provide free rides on the entire Metro transit system during the opening weekend to mark the occasion.

Officials said the completion of the Regional Connector project will enhance transportation options and provide easier access to downtown Los Angeles, cultural institutions, parks, medical facilities, and job centers.

Metro contracted with Regional Connector Constructors (RCC) for the design and construction of the project. The RCC achieved one of the best safety records among Metro construction projects. Metro also implemented a Project Labor Agreement and Construction Careers Policy to promote construction employment and training opportunities, with a significant percentage of workers hired from economically disadvantaged areas.

While Metro is celebrating the opening, the organization has even more ambitious plans for this “one-seat ride,” eventually taking passengers from Santa Monica as far as Whittier without ever changing trains or waiting for a transfer.

Current plans forecast the expansion could be complete as late as 2035, relying on funding from a half-cent sales tax increase approved through 2016 LA County bond measure, Measure M, which set aside funds estimated at about $120 billion over 40 years for transportation improvements across the region. That measure passed with nearly 72 percent of votes cast in favor.

However, there’s a chance the extension could be expedited given Metro wants to complete several new transit projects in an effort to help alleviate crushing traffic anticipated during the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

The first and longest of the three alternatives for the expansion would see the line expanded approximately nine miles with up to seven new stations, ending at Santa Fe Springs Road in Whittier. The second and shortest would expand the line 3.2 miles or up to three stations, terminating in the City of Commerce. The third alternative would add 4.6 miles of track and up to four stations, ending in Montebello at Greenwood Avenue.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the possible expansion was released in June 2022 and evaluated the proposed alternatives as well as their potential impacts and mitigation measures. All comments received will receive a response in the Final EIR, which is anticipated for release in 2023. The Metro Board will select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). More details will be provided at a future date.

Visit metro.net/eastside2022 for more information.


Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...