Local

As Expo Line's opening day nears, Metro urges safety

File: A test train runs the new Expo Line Phase 2 route between Culver City and Santa Monica.
File: A test train runs the new Expo Line Phase 2 route between Culver City and Santa Monica.
Meghan McCarty/KPCC

Metro officials tried to remind drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists on Tuesday to “Look, Listen and Stay Alive” as the opening day of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica approaches.

The new line will run from the existing Culver City station into downtown Santa Monica, with seven stops in between.

Metro is currently operating the train on a regular full service schedule, without passengers, in order to test it before it opens to the public on May 20.

A Metro map shows the course of the Expo Line Phase 2.
A Metro map shows the course of the Expo Line Phase 2.
Los Angeles Metro

The transportation agency is urging local residents to be mindful of safety procedures, pedestrian swing gates, as well as lights and bells, as this is the first time the area has had a running train since 1953, Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said.

“We recommend to be patient, to learn how to interact with the train and steer clear of closing crossing gates,” he said.

Since 2012, there have been 136 collisions involving vehicles on the Blue, Expo, Gold, Green and Red lines, according to Metro. Twenty-three of those incidents have occurred on the Expo Line. Four of the 75 pedestrian collisions since 2012 have happened along the Expo Line.

Since the testing phase began for the new rail section, there have been some non-fatal collisions, including one in December. A truck was making an illegal left turn along Colorado Avenue, where the train will run directly alongside car traffic, inadvertently crossing in front of a test train and derailing it.

A Metro safety program was implemented in February to educate the public on train safety. Agency officials have visited local community centers, college campuses, senior citizen centers and libraries within a 1.5-mile radius of the line to spread the message on pedestrian and driver safety.

As long as everybody does their part and pays attention, Ubaldo told KPCC, this is a community service that will benefit everybody.