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Red Line train awaiting departure at Union Station.
|Transit type||Heavy rail|
|Number of stations||14|
|Daily ridership||149,096 (July 2016; avg. weekday, combined with Metro Purple Line)|
|Began operation||January 30, 1993|
|Character||Subway (fully underground)|
|Number of vehicles||Breda A650|
|Train length||6 cars (4 cars during off-peak hours)|
|System length||16.4 mi (26.4 km)|
|No. of tracks||2|
4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||750 V DC third rail|
The Red Line is a heavy rail subway line running between Downtown Los Angeles and North Hollywood via the districts of Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire. In North Hollywood it connects with the Orange Line (bus rapid transit) service for stations to the Warner Center in Woodland Hills and Chatsworth. It is operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The Red Line, which is one of six lines forming the Metro Rail rapid transit system, opened in stages between 1993 and 2000. Together with the Purple Line, these two heavy rail lines combine to form L.A. Metro Rail's busiest line. As of October 2013[update], the combined Red and Purple lines averaged 169,478 boardings per weekday.
The Red Line is a 16.4-mile (26.4 km) line that begins at Union Station and travels southwest through Downtown Los Angeles, passing the Civic Center, Pershing Square (near the Historic Core) and the Financial District. At 7th St/Metro Center, travelers can connect to the Metro Blue Line and Metro Expo Line. From here, the train travels between 7th Street and Wilshire Boulevard (and briefly Ingraham Street) west through Pico-Union and Westlake, arriving at Wilshire/Vermont in the city's Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown district. Up to this point, the track is shared with the Metro Purple Line: at Wilshire/Vermont, the two lines diverge.
From here, the Red Line travels north along Vermont, and then west along Hollywood Boulevard, traveling through Koreatown and Hollywood. Finally, the line turns northwest and crosses into the San Fernando Valley, where it terminates in North Hollywood.
Trains run between approximately 4:30 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. the following morning. On Friday and Saturday evenings, trains are extended until 2:00 a.m. of the following morning. First and last train times are as follows:
To/From North Hollywood
Trains on the Red Line operate every ten minutes during peak hours Monday through Friday. They operate every twelve minutes during the daytime weekdays and all day on the weekends after approximately 10 a.m. (with a 15-minute headway early Saturday and Sunday mornings). Night service is every 20 minutes.
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The Red Line project consisted of the current Red Line and Purple Line corridors, plus other corridors that were never built. Rather than building the entire project all at once, the SCRTD divided the project into "minimum operating segments" (MOS), corridor segments that could be built as distinct project phases that would provide incremental benefit as they opened.
While some type of mass transit rail project had been planned and considered for many decades to serve the length of Wilshire corridor to Santa Monica, transit planners finally decided on a route that would travel west along Wilshire Blvd. to Fairfax Avenue, then turn north along Fairfax to the San Fernando Valley. Following a methane explosion in 1985 at a Ross Dress for Less clothing store near Fairfax and Third Street, Congressman Henry Waxman worked to legally designate a large part of Mid-Wilshire as a "methane zone". This zone stretched on either side of Wilshire Boulevard from Hancock Park to west of Fairfax (through areas of his district where subway opposition was strongest). Congress passed the ban in 1986. Subsequently, any plans for a subway west of Western Avenue diverted the line south around the methane zone, using Crenshaw, Pico, and San Vicente Boulevards, but these plans never came to fruition.
The passage of the legislation forced the then SCRTD (predecessor agency to the current LACMTA) to terminate the route at Western Avenue. (it would later be referred to as "the tail" for its short length from the future transfer station at Vermont Avenue) and no longer qualify for the current round of Federal funding for the remaining miles of the rail line. However, in an effort to qualify for future awards of Federal funds for miles of route that had now been canceled, the SCRTD quickly started over (the FTA requires formulas and studies before it approves funds, and then only for the precise route submitted) and proposed that one leg of the subway would deviate from the Western Ave. bound tunnel and turn north on Vermont, west on Sunset, then north to the San Fernando Valley, avoiding Waxman's "no-subway" zone.
However, the route from Vermont Avenue heading north was proposed to be elevated along Vermont and required the purchase and demolition of one or more of the hospitals located near the corner of Vermont & Sunset in order for the trains to make the turn west onto Sunset continuing on elevated tracks, a major impact upon the community. In addition, the owners of TV and radio stations, and recording studios further west along Sunset (at that time KTLA, KTTV and KCBS were among several broadcast and post production facilities and music recording studios that were located along the proposed route's stretch of Sunset Blvd.) strongly protested the route claiming that the vibrations and noise from passing trains would interfere with their productions using sensitive microphones and recording equipment. The SCRTD later proposed to put trains underground along Sunset to mollify the media owners' concerns, but those same business interests strongly believed that even underground trains would still create sufficient vibrations to negatively impact their facilities and services and vowed to fight and file suit to prevent any rail line along their stretch of Sunset Blvd.
By then, new rounds of Federal money were available, and then-SCRTD CEO Allen Pegg announced that the transit agency was highly confident that sufficient funding for an all subway line, now proposed to travel under Hollywood Blvd to avoid conflicts with the studios on Sunset, could be secured. The line would then turn north along Highland Avenue to Universal City and North Hollywood (a Hollywood Bowl stop was determined not to have enough year-round ridership to meet FTA formulas for Federal funding, just one of the reasons for not building a station there). The FTA approved the all subway route and funding (although broken into 2 phases rather than the original 1 phase in order to spread the cost over time making it more likely to be approved by Congress as part of the Federal Budget) for the line as it exists today.
Building awareness to the new Metro Red Line required a massive public relations and advertising campaign. Several agencies were awarded contracts to supply information, create signage and billboards, and produce radio, newspaper and television advertising. Coronado Communications, in alliance with sub-contractor Pangea Corporation, worked out a creative strategy to communicate to the Latino, Korean and Chinese communities. Under the direction of Coronado Communications' Fernando Oaxaca and Pangea's Cheryl Ann Wong, the campaign reached the target audience months before the Metro opened by utilizing traditional media and hosting special minority community events. As the Metro Red Line extended to the West Side of Los Angeles, another campaign was enacted by UltraSystems Environmental and Hintz and Balvin Communications, who put together a team to handle all the collateral and public relations.
In 1995, during construction of the subway, a sinkhole appeared on Hollywood Boulevard, barely missing several workers and causing damage to buildings on the street. Subway construction was halted until the situation could be resolved. The contractor, Shea-Kiewit-Kenny, was replaced with a new contractor, Tutor Saliba.
MOS-2 included three new stations between Westlake/MacArthur Park and Wilshire/Western, which completed the branch now served by the Purple Line opened in 1996, and five new stations from Wilshire/Vermont to Hollywood/Vine which opened in 1999.
In 1998, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky introduced a Los Angeles County initiative called the MTA Reform and Accountability Act of 1998 (Los Angeles County Proposition A). This initiative, passed by voters in 1998, bans the use of Los Angeles County revenue from existing sales taxes for subway tunneling. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky later stated that local money could be used to cover subway-related costs, as long as it was not used directly for tunneling. In the time since this proposition became law, a new sales tax measure, Measure R, was passed by voters which specifically provides funds for subway development.
MOS-3, which added new stations and extended the Red Line from Hollywood/Vine to its final terminus at North Hollywood, opened in 2000. Litigation over an illegally awarded contract to build the Hollywood/Highland station and tunnels took more time to resolve than the actual construction.
During construction, 2,000 fossils were discovered, including 64 extinct species of fish, the tusk of an Ice Age elephant and the bones of an ancient longhorn bison, a report funded by the MTA found. The report was authored by paleontologist Bruce Lander of Paleo Environmental Associates in Irvine. Lander worked with a team of 28 scientists during construction of the Metro Rail Red Line. Fossil evidence showed that tens of thousands of years ago, ground sloths, horses, elephants and camels roamed among redwood trees in what is now Los Angeles, according to an MTA summary of the 300-page report. The scientists also found evidence of a great flood in the San Fernando Valley 9,000 years ago that swept away trees. Among the 64 extinct species of marine fish 39 had never before been discovered, the report said. The scientists found bones of an American mastodon, a western camel and a Harlan's ground sloth. They found wood and pollen of land plants including incense cedar and coast redwood trees, and bones of birds, shrews, cottontail rabbits, gophers, mice and kangaroo rats. Some of the fossils are as much as 16.5 million years old.
During construction there were allegations of corruption and safety issues, including cost overruns and tunnel walls having thicknesses less than specified or required by law.
In October 2005, the new Orange Line busway began service. The busway was constructed instead of a further Red Line rail extension in the Valley. The Orange Line uses train-like two-cabin articulated bus bodies to provide high-capacity transit service across an east-west corridor in the southern San Fernando Valley. The Red Line connects to the Orange Line at North Hollywood station. The Orange Line feeds about 15,000 new boardings into the Red Line at the North Hollywood terminus. Currently, little chance exists for further underground Red Line extension west from its northern terminus.
In August 2006, the Wilshire branch of the Red Line, operating between Union Station and Wilshire/Western, was redesignated by Metro as the Metro Purple Line to distinguish it from the Downtown-North Hollywood service. This helps riders in the overlapping section of the routes to avoid confusion and taking the wrong train.
The route currently known as the Red Line was originally intended to continue beyond its eastern terminus at Union Station to East Los Angeles. At the north end of the route, the Red Line was to turn west from North Hollywood station toward Warner Center. However, a 1998 proposition was passed by voters, which banned use of county sales tax revenue for subway construction due to the high cost of construction and problems associated with tunneling under Hollywood Blvd.
The tunneling ban put an end to expansion of the Red Line for the then foreseeable future. The route to Warner Center was turned into the Metro Orange Line, a bus rapid transitway (BRT) service. However, in recent years, new legislation has been passed reflecting new public support for subway development, and Metro is now currently working on two subway projects (the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector) in other parts of Los Angeles.
Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has mentioned extending the Red Line from its current North Hollywood Station terminus along Lankershim Boulevard to the northeastern San Fernando Valley, with a terminus in Sylmar.
One long-term possibility might be an underground extension of another mile or two to a future high-rise housing district, or to a multi-modal transportation hub station at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, a distance of approximately four miles. It would possibly go under Oxnard Street, the NoHo West development, Laurel Canyon Blvd, and Vanowen Street to the Burbank Airport. In 2006 a large number of housing units, including a high-rise tower was completed very near the North Hollywood (NoHo Arts District) station.
Planned high-rise housing developments further to the north, including the NoHo West development which broke ground in March 2017 and the possibility of establishing a direct connection to the planned California High-Speed Rail station at Burbank Airport have been suggested as additional justification for an extension of the line from its current terminus in North Hollywood.
In 2010, at the request of L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, Metro staff studied the possibility of adding a station along the west bank of the Los Angeles River to 6th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. The study concluded that such an extension, completed at-grade along Metro-owned right-of-way, could be completed for as little as $90 million.
The study suggested an alternative station at the Division 20 Yard north of 4th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. This station would be closer to the residential population of the Arts District. As new turnback tracks will need to be built as part of the Purple Line Extension (to allow shorter headways), this Arts District extension could possibly be partially completed as part of the Purple Line Extension project, lowering the incremental cost of the station while increasing its usability.
Plans of extending the Red Line to the Eastside have been set aside with opening of the Metro Gold Line East extension to the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles in 2009. Although there are no plans to do such, it is conceivable that plans for a future eastward extension could involve the San Gabriel Valley rather than the Eastside. Some citizen proposals have included the conversion of the El Monte Busway to heavy rail, although this would disrupt the existing bus and Metrolink service along that corridor. Other rights-of-way that could host a Red Line extension, whether subway or at-grade, include the Union Pacific's Alhambra Trench, the former Pacific Electric two-track right of way extending through the City Terrace area to El Monte and Covina, and the median of Huntington Drive, which also held a two-track Pacific Electric line extending as far as Azusa & Glendora, until 1951, when it was removed.
Metro is currently constructing the Purple Line Extension (formerly known as the Westside Subway Extension project) to extend the Purple Line (originally part of the Red Line) westward, to the Westside.
The following table lists the stations of the Red Line, from east to west:
|Station||Connections||Date Opened||Station Parking||City/ Neighborhood|
||January 30, 1993||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)||Downtown Los Angeles|
|Civic Center/Grand Park||
||January 30, 1993||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)|
||January 30, 1993||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)|
|7th Street/Metro Center||
||January 30, 1993||None|
||January 30, 1993||None||Westlake|
||July 13, 1996||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)||Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown|
||June 12, 1999||None||Los Angeles|
||June 12, 1999||None||Los Angeles|
||June 12, 1999||None||East Hollywood|
||June 12, 1999||None||East Hollywood|
||June 12, 1999||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)||Hollywood|
||June 24, 2000||Nearby Paid Parking (Independent)||Hollywood|
|Universal City/Studio City||June 24, 2000||779 Spaces||Studio City|
|North Hollywood||June 24, 2000||803 Spaces||North Hollywood|
The Red Line operates out of the Division 20 Yard (Santa Fe Yard) located at 320 South Santa Fe Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. This yard stores the fleet used on the Red and Purple Lines, and where heavy maintenance is performed. Cars reach this yard by continuing past Union Station, making a right turn and surfacing at the Eastern terminus of Ducommun Street. They then travel south to 1st Street, through a washing station, and enter the yard.
The Red Line uses Breda A650 75-foot (23 m) electric multiple unit cars built by Breda in Italy. Trains usually run in six-car consists during peak hours and four-car consists outside of peak hours. The acceleration for cars #530 and up is similar to that of cars used by the Washington Metro because they both use General Electric traction motors. The cars are maintained in a Metro yard on Santa Fe Avenue near 4th Street alongside the Los Angeles River in downtown Los Angeles.
On December 22, 2006, a transient accidentally spilled a vial of mercury on the platform at the Pershing Square station. He then located a passenger information intercom and told the operator that he spilled mercury before boarding a train. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was not notified until the next day, eight hours later. Metro has responded since the incident by giving hazardous materials (Hazmat) training to its field employees and operators so they can identify hazardous substances and take correct action in the future.
On August 19, 2011 an altercation between two passengers resulted in a fatal stabbing of one of the involved on the train near the Hollywood and Vine station. The suspect was caught on August 24.
On September 4, 2012, a 54-year-old man fell onto the tracks at the North Hollywood station and was hit by an oncoming train. He was rescued by firefighters and paramedics, but died at the hospital.
On May 22, 2018, an undentified man "probally jumped" onto the tracks at the 7th Street/Metro Center station and was hit by an oncoming train. He was rescued by firefighters and paramedics in grave condition and later died at the hospital. It is unknown if it was suicide or not. .
The Red Line operates 16.4 miles between Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and North Hollywood.
Route map: Google
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