THE FINAL 10·1 km of the Los Angeles Red line heavy metro from Hollywood & Vine to North Hollywood was dedicated on June 23, ending a troubled project that has taken 13 years to complete (MR 99 p15). During the ceremonies at North Hollywood, Mayor Richard Riordan described the occasion as ’a glorious day.’ US Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said the $4·7bn investment in the metro, about half of which came from Washington, will be returned many times over.

The Red line runs for 28 km from Union Station in central Los Angeles through Hollywood to North Hollywood in the populous San Fernando Valley. There is also a short branch down Wilshire Boulevard to Western Avenue. The original plan was to extend this stub along one of the region’s most heavily travelled transit corridors to West Los Angeles, but this was stopped by the discovery of potentially explosive methane gas fields.

Nearly 500000 passengers were carried during a weekend of free rides on June 24-25. Prior to the North Hollywood opening, the Red line carried less than 65000 daily riders. On June 26, the first day of revenue service, this figure jumped to over 100000, in line with projections. The 35·4 km Blue line to Long Beach opened 10 years ago carries about 60000, but the 32 km Green line from Norwalk to Redondo Beach only attracts 22000. By contrast, San Francisco’s 153 km BART network has a weekday ridership of 327000.

A third light rail line is under construction from Union Station to Pasadena, and MTA has just authorised preliminary engineering on another to East Los Angeles, replacing a cancelled Red line extension.

CAPTION: Los Angeles Mayor and MTA board member Richard Riordan (inset) boarded the ceremonial first Red line train at North Hollywood for a one-stop run to Universal City