Transportation officials from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) commemorated the grand opening of the K Line, Los Angeles’ newest light rail line, with a burst through a banner at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and 48th Street in South Los Angeles.
The opening of the K Line — previously known as the Crenshaw/LAX Line — marks the official return of rail service on Crenshaw Boulevard since the last Los Angeles Railway Line 5 yellow street cars trundled down the street in 1955, according to Metro's news release.
To mark its historic milestone, Metro provided free rides on the K Line and all other Metro bus and rail lines and bike share services.
The new line represents Metro’s single largest transportation investment in the South Los Angeles region since the construction of the Metro A Line (Blue) and C Line (Green) more than 20 years ago, according to the agency. Metro said the K Line is anticipated to open new access to opportunity for numerous South L.A. communities, including the Crenshaw Corridor, Hyde Park, Leimert Park, Fairview Heights, Inglewood, and Westchester, by connecting these communities with new local destinations as well as the rest of Los Angeles County’s expanding Metro Rail system.
"What was conceived decades ago as only lines on a map and a hopeful dream have today been made a reality thanks to county taxpayers’ investment in Metro," said Ara J. Najarian, Metro Board chair. "We now have a train that Angelenos can take to reach destinations they never could before via Metro Rail. The K Line is the perfect example of how Metro is continuing to transform public transportation for the better in Los Angeles County."
The $2.1 billion K Line was funded by local tax dollars, according to Metro. The agency’s Measure R transportation sales tax measure was approved by voters back in 2008. The line also included federal funding grants and loans that helped ensure the timely start of construction. Prior to Measure R’s 2008 passage, however, earlier plans for a train service along the Crenshaw Corridor languished due to the lack of local funding.
"Residents and businesses along the route of the new K Line have been looking forward to the expanded access this rail line will provide to work, school, shopping, entertainment, and LAX," said Congressmember Maxine Waters. "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."
The K Line is a part of Metro’s rail expansion plan in Los Angeles County. With Metro’s other Measure M voter-approved transportation tax measure in 2016, the agency said it now has the biggest rail expansion program in the U.S.
Metro added that it anticipates the line will carry more than 32,000 daily boardings by the year 2035. During this time, ridership is expected to continue to grow once Metro’s new Regional Connector line opens to the public early next year, the K Line’s two remaining stations open in the next couple of years, and all bus lines and bus stations that serve the line are fully integrated.
By 2024, Metro said it will complete a new station to connect the K Line with Los Angeles International Airport via its People Mover to airport terminals.
"After decades of going without rail transit, I’m proud to lead Metro as it delivers the K Line to Crenshaw, Inglewood, and all the other south Los Angeles communities," said Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro. "We’re eternally grateful to the area’s residents and businesses for hosting us in the community during a long and technically complex construction period. I know the K Line will be well used and well-loved by these communities and the rest of Los Angeles County for decades to come."
Metro said it now plans to expand the K Line north. The agency is now developing a draft environmental impact report that will explore alternatives for extending the K Line to reach Hollywood.