Modern rail transit finally reaches South L.A.

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — With much fanfare, the K Line opened Oct. 7, running from the Crenshaw district to Westchester and giving South Los Angeles its most extensive rail service since the 1950s.

The line fulfills a dream that began when Tom Bradley was mayor from 1973-93 and sought to provide world-class transportation in South Los Angeles, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

“The K Line is integral to Los Angeles’ transportation future,” Garcetti said. “It will open doors of opportunity for riders across our region and help make Los Angeles a more accessible, sustainable, and inclusive city.”

Other elected officials and civic dignitaries were on hand for the opening ceremonies, riding on the train as it burst through a banner commemorating the official opening.

“I worked very hard to ensure federal support for this corridor, which resulted in $233 million in grants and a $546 million loan, and I am proud to see it finally coming to fruition,” U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters said.

“South Los Angeles fought hard for decades for the Crenshaw Line and today they reap the rewards of their patience,” county Supervisor and MTA board member Holly J. Mitchell added.

To celebrate the opening, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority offered free rides on all of its buses and trains throughout the weekend.

The northern-most point of the K Line is the Expo/Crenshaw station at the intersection of Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards. The line heads south along Crenshaw Boulevard, with stations at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in Leimert Park and Hyde Park.

The southern half of the line uses the Harbor Subdivision right-of- way, with stations in Fairview Heights and downtown Inglewood, ending at the Westchester/Veterans Station, near La Cienega Boulevard and Florence Avenue.

Free bus service is being provided from the Westchester/Veterans Station to the C (Green) Line’s Aviation/LAX Station. That future stretch of the K Line won’t open for about a year. According to the MTA, the K Line station at Aviation and Century boulevards is set to open in fall 2023. It was unclear when the line will stretch beyond that point to the Aviation/LAX Station and merge with the C (Green) Line.

When that southern stretch of the K Line does open, it will initially bypass the planned LAX/Metro Transit Center Station, which is scheduled to open in late 2024. When it opens, that station will connect with the automated people mover that will carry passengers into the LAX terminal area.

The 8.5-mile K Line was originally planned for completion by 2020, but construction issues forced delays in the project, which was further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MTA initially delayed the roughly $2 billion project’s opening until early 2021, then pushed it back until 2022.

The Crenshaw/LAX line is seen as a critical element in providing alternative transportation to the airport. It is also expected to help relieve traffic on game days at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The rail line does not stop at the stadium, but Inglewood is pushing for construction of a roughly 1.8-mile people-mover system that will link the stadium with the nearest rail station.

“With the K Line opening, Inglewood will now have three light rail stations in the city of champions that will link residents and patrons to the Kia Forum, Sofi Stadium and soon, Intuit Dome, the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said. “Little by little, we are becoming the world’s center of sports and entertainment, thanks in part to the K Line coming to our city.”

“When we make the all-important connection to LAX, the K Line will be the fastest, most convenient transportation choice for residents, travelers, visitors and airport employees alike,” said L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin. “This line will simply be the best choice for travelers and will finally give them a viable transit alternative to driving to the airport.”


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