The Expo Line! (and what’s still missing from LA’s rail plan)

Just like they did back in the early days of LA, Angelenos can finally take the train all the way to the beach. The Expo Line, Metro’s 6.6 long extension now connects Santa Monica to the rest of Los Angeles County’s growing commuter rail system. The hope is that a train that reaches the coast will attract thousands of new passengers to mass transit and prove that public transportation is very much part of Los Angeles’ DNA.

“This is a really momentous occasion,” said “Railtown” author Ethan Elkind, because it’s finally coming to the westside, which is the most densely populated area in the county. “Where you have dense populations of people, that’s where a technology like rail transit makes the most sense,” said Elkind.

However, for rail to thrive, it needs ridership; and ridership comes from people being able to easily walk to the trains from their houses and workplaces. “If the city is not going to be developing and adding housing and new neighborhoods around these rail stations, it’s going to be a huge missed opportunity,” said Elkind. “If you don’t have those types of thriving neighborhoods around the station areas, rail transit just doesn’t make sense.”

KCRW’s Saul Gonzalez talked to Elkind: