Commuting by Train Picks Up Speed – Expo Line Gets Technical Tweaks to Shave Transit Time

Taking the train is the easiest way to get to either Santa Monica or Los Angeles, and the Expo Station in Culver City is in the center of one of the most utilized lines in the system. The pre-pandemic ridership numbers were over 60,000 daily passengers, and it has been one of the popular trains coming back in recent weeks.

Years-long efforts to speed up one of Los Angeles County’s busiest light rail lines are showing results.

According to UrbanizeLA, the route has been plagued by frequently unreliable service since its debuts in 2012. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has studied the causes for service delays on the Expo Line since 2019. One of the first fixes implemented by LADOT was an extension of the green light signal at E Line’s street-level crossing of Normandie Avenue.  Modified timing allowed trains to cross the intersection without stopping 79 percent of the time, up from 58 percent prior to the change.  

A report scheduled for review at the June 15 meeting of the City Council’s Transportation Committee notes LADOT’s latest experiment expanded the revised signal timing to the intersection of Flower Street and Adams Boulevard, where E Line trains compete not just with cross traffic on two busy streets, but also with motorists entering and exiting the US-110 freeway.  According to the report, the time savings gleaned from the new signal timing with Exposition Boulevard westbound reduced by 14 seconds; eastbound reduced by 40 seconds, and Flower Street southbound reduced by 15 seconds, northbound by 24 seconds.

End-to-end travel times for westbound trains were reduced by a cumulative 29 seconds, while eastbound travel times were reduced by one minute and four seconds.  The full 15-mile trip between Downtown and Santa Monica, for reference, is expected to take 47 minutes total.

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