Yesterday, the six-mile Gold Line extension into Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, and East LA finally opened to the public. At 10 a.m., it seemed like a normal weekend on any LA train line: enough seats to go around. Three hours later, people were waiting an hour to climb onboard. By 4:45 pm, an estimated 50,000 people had boarded, according to The Source. Fares were free, and people were happy -- a diverse cross-section of the city hopped on and the crowds stayed calm even with the wait and the growing heat.
Schedule-wise, how it goes: From Union Station going east, the train travels (slowly) over a "tomorrowland"-esque bridge over the 101 freeway with views of the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels, and the new Downtown Arts school. After passing the at-grade Little Tokyo station, the train takes a tight turn east and travels over the Los Angeles River bridge. The Pico/Aliso at-grade station is next, and then the train travels underground for the two subway stations: Mariachi Plaza and Soto. After Soto, the train rises again, coming upon the very-tight Indiana station before the Maravilla Station near Obregon Park. The Christopher Hawthorne-favorites were next: the East LA Civic Center Station and the Atlantic/Pomona terminus. Both stations are pretty, though Civic Center is surrounded by shiny government buildings, hospitals, and a park, while Atlantic is hedged in by strip malls. A new building was going up nearby, but it wasn't clear what exactly was being built.
Fun facts: Construction began in summer of 2004. The line cost $899 million. At rush-hour it should take about 25 minutes to get from East LA to Union Station (and vice-versa), and about an hour to get from East LA to Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena.
More coverage: Blogdowntown went to the press preview; the blog also picked up this amusing tweet: "Detainees at Metropolitan Detention Center waving thru bars at each train passing."