Metro to Consider Changing Line Designations from Colors to Numbers

With more public transit in the pipeline, officials at Metro are considering changing how the system gets designated – maybe numbers are better than colors ? What about letters? Perhaps even all three?

Supported by new sales tax revenue from Measure M, Metro’s rail and bus rapid transit network is poised to almost double in size over the coming decade. With this much expansion in the works, the agency is again considering a new naming process for the expanding system.

Metro officials hope to cut the ribbon on eight major bus and rail projects over the next decade, including an extension of the Gold Line to Montclair by 2026, a San Fernando Valley rail line by 2027 and a 20-mile light-rail route between downtown and Artesia by 2028. They all will need names.

But those names pose a challenge, officials say, because their palette of unused colors is looking pretty thin, with remaining hues too closely resembling other lines. At a sun-bleached rail station with a weather-weary transit map, would a tourist be able to tell the difference between lines that are blue, teal, or turquoise ? Or even blue and green?

“If we want to change the names, now is a great time,” Metro spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas said in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.

Under a new naming scheme, most lines would keep their current hues. Although the Red Line subway from downtown to North Hollywood could be known as the No. 2 Line or the B Train, for example, the route would still be shown in red on the map.

“All the lines are going to always have a color,” Tonilas said. “But a letter or number can come in handy. If rose and red look similar, or blue and aqua, then you’ll be able to tell that you need the A Line, or the No. 1 Line.”

A switch to a numbered or lettered system would make L.A.’s growing rail system more closely resemble — at least on paper — the subway systems in other world capitals, including New York and Paris.

Metro’s board of directors will hear the naming proposals later this week. The agency plans to return to the board in December with a cost estimate for changing thousands of signs at 93 rail stations and creating a countywide public awareness campaign.


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