The southern end of the Blue Line is shut down until May, with buses replacing trains from Long Beach to the Willowbrook station. Follow along as Curbed reporter and Blue Line rider Elijah Chiland commutes from downtown Long Beach to Hollywood on the first weekday of the closure.
7:30 a.m.: Finding where to catch the bus turned out to be more difficult than expected. The downtown Long Beach stop is around the corner and a block south of the station.
7:37 a.m.: Riders definitely seem a little confused about which of the three shuttle options they should take, though a Metro employee is here to answer questions. A couple riders say they didn’t realize closures would start this week.
7:40 a.m.: There’s an express shuttle to Downtown LA in the morning, and one that makes limited stops on its way to Watts Towers/103rd Street Station (where the train is still in service). Both of these options have limited hours, though, and I'd like to see what this trip looks like at night, or on a weekend, so I got on a free shuttle to Watts Towers/103rd Street.
7:56 a.m.: Driver tells a boarding passenger “we don't know what we're doing yet. We'll figure it out though, we have a few months.”
8:00 a.m.: Bus is making good time so far. Already at Wardlow Station, not much slower than the Blue Line. Not many riders aboard so far. Stops look emptier as well. Blue Line ridership dropped significantly last year and it will be interesting to see how many people stick with Metro during the closures.
8:10 a.m.: About a dozen riders board at Del Amo Station. Accordion bus is now a little over half full.
8:24 a.m.: Metro appears to have taped signs to traffic lights to help drivers navigate the new route.
8:35 a.m.: Only three riders board at Compton Station. Bus is definitely starting to slow with traffic delays.
8:48 a.m.: Already lots of construction activity at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, which will get a total overhaul during the closures. In Long Beach, workers were digging up track along the rail line.
8:56 a.m.: The shuttle bus arrives at Watts Towers/103rd Street Station. That's a 76-minute bus ride. On the train, the trip would take about 30 minutes.
Overall times for 860 Express Shuttle subbing for Blue Line from DTLB to DTLA: Arrived at Pico Station in 67mins; 7th St/Metro Center in 74mins. Some definitive kinks to work out but overall not horrifying.— Brian Addison (@BrianAddisonLB) January 28, 2019
9:02 a.m.: Plenty of Metro staff at the station directing riders and loading up TAP cards. Got on the train, now waiting to leave for Downtown LA. Some riders seem more patient with the changes than others. A smartly dressed woman just boarded, telling a friend: “This is some bullshit.”
9:20 a.m.: Now that riders from all the buses are aboard, the train doesn't look much less crowded than on a typical weekday.
9:34 a.m.: Train stops at LATTC Station for two or three minutes without explanation. Metro aims to reduce these types of delays in the Downtown area and will temporarily close the first two Expo Line stations later this year for upgrades allowing for more seamless travel on both lines.
9:40 a.m.: Train arrives at 7th Street/Metro Center Station, exactly two hours after I left downtown Long Beach. Express service will likely be much faster, but this is going to be a tough trip for weekend travelers and those commuting outside peak hours.