Monday, July 16, 2012

LA gets late night rail transit

This announcement surprised me, but it's great to see. When I was in LA earlier this year for a concert, I was able to enjoy a new policy that had recently been implemented (trains every ten minutes until midnight) but had to worry about not missing the last train.

That's no longer the case. LA obviously has a whole lot of nightlife, and while buses that run 24 hours have been available, there's an extra comfort in knowing the subway is there for you too.

From the official Metro blog:


All Metro Rail lines will run until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. That includes the Red/Purple Line subway, the Blue Line, Expo Line, Green Line and Gold Line.

•Trains will run every 20 minutes between midnight and 2 a.m.

•The Orange Line will run until 2:40 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in order to meet the last trains at the North Hollywood Red Line station. The Orange Line will also run every 20 minutes between midnight and 2:40 a.m.

•The plan at this moment is to begin late-night service on the weekend of July 27-28 but Metro is also working to determine if late night service is needed on the Silver Line, as well as working with Metrolink on the possibility of extending their service to connect with Metro’s.
Metro Blog

The benefits of late night transit are extensive. It provides an extra level of comfort that you can get home and won't be stranded. Especially when you take into account the role the last train plays.

If service ends at midnight....you don't want to plan anything past 11:30pm, because of the fear that a slight delay leaves you stranded. By extending service until 2am, the comfort zone is now 1:30am. That's the difference between a USC student catching the 10:20pm screening at the LA Live movie theater or staying home.

Besides saving money on expensive cab fare, later service means safer trips home, as there's less of an incentive to drive drunk.

And it's not just drunk party people who benefit. Many low paying jobs have hours that don't quite match up with rush hours. If you're getting minimum wage, it's probably more likely your shift ends at midnight rather than 5:30pm. Now, at least on weekends, there's a comfortable train waiting to take you home.


20 minute headways and weekend-only service isn't perfect, but it's an excellent start, and it's better than what cities like SF and Boston provide. Indeed, even major subway-cities like Paris and London close their underground down at around midnight.

It's great to see LA take such great pro-rider move.

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, this is great, and something every city should aspire to.

    I mostly love the transit in the city I live in (Tokyo)—but the fact that most of it shuts down at 2430 or so is a huge pain. It's pretty annoying when you're enjoying a late night with friends, and suddenly have to choose between bailing early and a $50 cab ride home... :(

    I dunno why there isn't some vestigial service during the late night; given the huge number of riders (often a crush load!) on the last train, it's clear there's still plenty of demand, at least on the routes I use.

    I know they use some of the time for track maintenance, but I'd think they could increase late-night running while still leaving a reasonable amount of down-time for maintenance, e.g., run trains later (2/3am) on thursday/friday/saturday nights, that sort of thing.

    Maybe it's just the taxi lobby exerting its power...

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    1. Yeah, cities always use the "we need time for maintenance!" excuse which may very well be true on some days, but we all know it's not usually the case every day of the week. 24/7 may not be possible on older systems, but throwing in late trains on weekends shouldn't be an issue, especially as most systems open later on Sunday anyway.

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  2. Yes, BART does pull the plug around midnight. But several agencies offer owl / all-nighter service that connects major nodes like BART stations. See : "ALL NIGHTER"(511.org page).

    P.S. Re : BART - "Why doesn't BART run 24 hours?" (BART.gov page)

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    1. P.P.S. The "ALL NIGHTER" link above may drift sideways to another tab in the box. If it does, just pick the correct tab ("All Nighter Service") for the late night service information.

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