A metropolis well-known for its choked freeways and crawling commutes has a brand new declare to fame: the longest light-rail line on this planet.
That’s in response to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which opened a 1.9-mile subway tunnel underneath downtown Los Angeles final week. The tunnel caps a $1.8 billion mission that may now enable riders to journey immediately between Lengthy Seaside and Azusa, a journey of almost 50 miles, or between Santa Monica and East Los Angeles.
The brand new hyperlink, known as the Regional Connector, consists of three new underground stations and hyperlinks three light-rail traces, decreasing journey occasions by eliminating the necessity for a lot of riders to switch.
Transit companies throughout California and the nation are trying to reinvent themselves after the coronavirus pandemic drastically modified commuting patterns and ridership. Los Angeles leaders hope that by making use of the light-rail community extra handy, they will lure new riders, ease visitors and minimize air pollution.
“It remakes transportation in Los Angeles County,” Bart Reed, government director of the Transit Coalition, a public-transit advocacy group, mentioned of the brand new hyperlink. “Wherever you go, driving is commonly gradual. The reality is that trains are a mobility resolution in Los Angeles.”
I rode the newly prolonged A line lately, from Lengthy Seaside by downtown Los Angeles, throughout Pasadena and into Azusa on the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. The entire journey took just below two hours at speeds reaching 56 miles an hour. Practice automobiles had been principally uncrowded.
At a time when transit budgets are being squeezed throughout the nation, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, generally known as Metro, is increasing gentle rail partially due to a collection of voter-approved gross sales tax will increase meant to fund such initiatives, courting again to Proposition A in 1980.
“We’re following the need of the voters,” mentioned Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles County supervisor and a Metro board member. “We’re making a serious funding in constructing out a contemporary transportation system that connects folks to the place they need to go.”
With Los Angeles scheduled to carry the 2028 Summer season Olympics, officers consider that increasing the light-rail system will higher join cities throughout the county, essentially the most populous within the nation, whereas decreasing avenue congestion and carbon emissions.
“There isn’t a different alternative, as a result of we’re not going to construct new freeways,” mentioned Ara Najarian, a Glendale Metropolis Council member and the chair of Metro’s board of administrators. “We need to get folks out of automobiles and into secure, dependable transit.”
The enlargement additionally comes at a time when drug overdoses on the trains have been rising, and a collection of travelers aboard Metro trains have been attacked. Violent crime on public transit in Los Angeles County is up about 10 p.c from final 12 months, and drug-related offenses have surged 301 p.c, in response to Metro figures.
Ridership stays beneath prepandemic ranges however has begun to extend steadily. About 23.4 million riders used Metro trains and buses in April 2023, 10 p.c greater than in April 2022, in response to Metro officers. Buses account for greater than two-thirds of whole ridership.
As my practice traveled again to Lengthy Seaside, it was rush hour, and lots of extra riders got here on board. Metro “ambassadors” — guides carrying lime-green shirts — stood in pairs at station platforms and on practice automobiles, with black pouches of doses of naloxone, a drugs utilized in opioid overdoses, affixed to their belts.
“They need to do one thing about crime and folks being attacked,” mentioned Judy Louie, 69, a Sierra Madre resident driving together with her sister to downtown Los Angeles. “It’s appalling.”
Different passengers mentioned a quick and dependable light-rail system had potential in a sprawling area the place automobile tradition reigns and public transit is commonly seen as uncomfortable or inconvenient.
“There’s a stigma,” Invoice Teweles, 72, mentioned.
Touring to Little Tokyo, Teweles mentioned he believed the brand new Regional Connector would make navigating downtown simpler whereas attracting new riders, easing visitors and serving to the setting.
“I’m an optimist,” he added.
Douglas Morino is a journalist primarily based in Los Angeles.
The place we’re touring
At the moment’s tip comes from Jackie Leventhal, who recommends discovering new sights in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:
“San Francisco’s largest park is well-known to many. The park’s mainstays — the Japanese Tea Backyard, de Younger Museum and lots of lakes — are properly traversed. Nonetheless, you may stroll unguided and uncover many different tidbits ready so that you can see. We discovered a lush fern grove, the first children’s playground in the country, blooming magnolias, the meditative AIDS Memorial Grove and the Janis Joplin Tree. Bikers, skaters, musicians make each stroll a singular occurring.”
Inform us about your favourite locations to go to in California. E mail your options to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing extra in upcoming editions of the publication.
What we’re studying
The 25 most influential works of postwar queer literature.
We’re nearly midway by 2023! What are the very best issues which have occurred to you to this point this 12 months? What have been your wins? Or your sudden joys, massive or small?
Inform me at CAToday@nytimes.com. Please embrace your full title and town the place you reside.
And earlier than you go, some excellent news
Issues are wanting up for a California creature that when appeared destined for extinction.
The Santa Cruz kangaroo rat was for many years thought to exist solely in a tiny pocket of sandhills in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. However scientists have lately recognized new populations 25 miles away, The Mercury News reports.
“It was unbelievable,” mentioned Ken Hickman, who detected the elusive subspecies close to Los Gatos. “Individuals have been searching for them for years.”
Thanks for studying. We’ll be again on Monday. Get pleasure from your weekend.
P.S. Right here’s today’s Mini Crossword.
Soumya Karlamangla, Johnna Margalotti and Maia Coleman contributed to California At the moment. You possibly can attain the staff at CAtoday@nytimes.com.