Metro Expo Line begins testing trains ahead of expected 2012 opening

Testing the Metro Expo
Testing the Metro Expo

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Los Angeles County Metro has begun to ramp up testing along the future Exposition Line, a light rail route that will eventually connect downtown L.A. with Culver City.

Most Angelenos know the drill by now. Warning bells sound, red lights flash, safety gates drop and a few seconds later a Metro train passes by. But, starting Sunday, expect to see the occasional train with no passengers, empty except for a couple engineers.

Metro is testing the timing and safety of every train crossing and signal system of the Expo Line. Tests began Sunday but will continue until its eventual opening. Metro has yet to release the opening date, but many expect it to be in early 2012.

Phase one of the Metro Expo Line is 8.6 miles of light rail stretching from downtown to Culver City, with 12 stops in between. The project cost a cool $932 million, but will also serve USC, Exposition Park, the Mid-City communities and the Crenshaw District. Phase two is a further extension from Culver City to Santa Monica.

As tests begin to be a presence on the line, so does Metro's safety campaign. Retired bus and rail operators turned "safety ambassadors" will be placed at various intersections to teach pedestrians about the system. Metro also says that 63,000 safety flyers have been distributed door-to-door within a two block radius of the line.

An additional 60,000 safety flyers will be distributed during the coming months.