Students who rely on public transit could have a harder time getting around Los Angeles County after Metro revealed renovations that will cause an eight-month closure of the Blue Line.
On Jan. 15 the Metro announced that the Blue Line will begin the first of two partial shut downs starting in early 2019. During the first phase of the suspension service from Downtown Long Beach to the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station will be halted for repairs and upgrades over a four-month period.
During the suspension, Metro is planning to extend service by running extra buses at more frequent intervals, and express busses during peak hours. According to Jose Ubaldo, a communications manager for Metro, the goal is to match the route the Blue line takes.
“The [bus] service we will offer will emulate the train service, and it will only be from station to station,” Ubaldo said.
Metro is anticipating delays for passengers, but is trying to minimize the effect that the repairs will have on riders. One way is by scheduling buses to the same hours that the Blue Line usually runs and increasing the frequency of service. Additionally, the fares will stay the same during the shutdown.
Despite extra buses, passengers can expect to add an additional 30 to 60 minutes to their commute depending on their destination.
“The traveling time will be a little longer, because the train moves faster,” Ubaldo said. “But we are going to try to do our best to cut down on time.”
Metro will begin closing sections of the Blue Line to begin repairs and upgrades under a program called “The New Blue,” which started in 2014. The campaign will spend $300 million renovating the Blue Line and the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Blue Line station.
The Metro hopes that repairs and upgrades will help lure riders back with shorter wait times, new signal systems and extra tracks.
Since the Blue Line’s opening in 1990, it has been one of the busiest routes for Metro, but has lost riders in recent years due to longer commutes and crowds.
Construction on the line will be scheduled in two phases. The first will close the track south of the Rosa Parks station, starting from the Compton station to Downtown Long Beach. After the southern part of the track reopens, the second phase will shut down the northern section of the line, which runs up to the 7th Street/Metro Center station in Los Angeles.
Each phase is scheduled to take four months each with a total eight-month stretch of closures. During this time, the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Blue Line station will be closed for the entire eight months for repairs and renovations.
While the suspension of service begins in January, the Metro does not have an exact date for the beginning of construction, but expects the entire Blue Line to be fully operational by October 2019.