Santa Monica Lookout
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All Aboard Santa Monica’s New Light Rail Line
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
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Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Zina Markevicius
Special to the Lookout

May 20, 2016 -- The little boy smiled and wiggled with joy at the prospect of riding the new train.

May 20, 2016 -- Expo Downtown Station. Photos by Zina Markevicius for the Santa Monica Lookout. More Photos

“How many times do you want to ride it?” asked his father.

Four-year-old Gavin Lieberman waved his hands in the air, ten tiny fingers outstretched. But ten times did not seem enough.

“Fourteen hundred times,” he declared with a confident grin.

That's exactly what Santa Monica City and transit officials want to hear from the future generations they hope will ride the train for decades to come.

Children weren’t the only ones enthusiastic about Friday’s opening of the new Expo line, the expansion of the Metrolink light rail system that will link Santa Monica to Downtown LA for the first time in more than 60 years.

Carrying a laptop bag and dressed in a smart button down shirt, a middle-aged man also couldn’t hide his excitement.

“I can’t believe we got to see the first train,” he beamed, while his colleague snapped photos at the Downtown Station at 4th Street and Colorado Avenue.

At 9:49am, staff held a large Metro banner at 5th Street and Colorado, and the westbound train, packed full with waving passengers, broke through and pulled into the station that marks the end of the expanded Expo line.

A quiet crowd of some 150 spectators, primarily from the media, Metro staff and law enforcement, along with few onlookers, witnessed the event, which is widely viewed as a watershed for the beach city of nearly 94,000.

The opening ceremonies continued with speeches and high-fives under a large white tent at the station’s parking lot, filled with about 500 invited guests and 100 spectators.

A gray sky cast shadows onto the city, county, state, and transportation agency officials gathered on the stage, but that did not dampen their praise for each other and thanks to the many involved in making the project happen.

“Someone’s going to go out on a date tonight on the Expo line and fall in love,” said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti.

Los Angeles County supervisor Sheila Keuhl gushed, “I’m in love with this train.”

Santa Monica mayor Tony Vazquez addressed concern about limited parking at the seven new stations, three of which are in Santa Monica, along the 6.6-mile stretch from Culver City.

“We’re trying to discourage people from driving their cars to the Expo line,” he said, offering the Breeze bicycle rentals and shared cars now available through Zipcar as alternatives.

The mayor also spoke in Spanish about how the expanded rail service will make it easier to come to work in Santa Monica and visit the beach.

As downtown Santa Monica residents and business owners, Steven and Jennifer Lieberman also expect the train to bring more people to Santa Monica.

Their bar-restaurant, West 4th & Jane, is located on 4th Street, just one and a half blocks from the Colorado station.

“That was one of the big reasons we wanted this location. We’re excited to see what happens.”

The Liebermans plan to use the train themselves to explore more of Culver City and downtown Los Angeles. Their son Gavin is most excited.

“This little guy has been watching (the train) every day,” said Jennifer. “We promised to take him for a ride today.”

After the opening ceremonies, hundreds lined up for the free rides. The diverse crowd included tourists, bike enthusiasts, children on school trips, individuals running errands and seniors reminiscing about riding the old train service that was halted in 1953.

The line moved quickly, as people laughed, chatted and took pictures of each other. Most unusual were the conversations between strangers in line and once en route. The train car was abuzz with passengers freely talking politics and religion, childhood memories, and strategies to get around the Los Angeles area.

There was an open, friendly, energetic atmosphere, and time will tell how the community takes to the Expo line in the long run.

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