On its journey, Blue Line trains cut through much of the densely populated area south of Downtown LA, which includes South Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Watts, Compton, and Carson. The Blue Line passes near the Watts Towers.
The Blue Line has two other official names: the B Line, and Line 801. These are rarely used by residents, but occasionally appear on official documents.
A new "Regional Connector" was designed to connect Metro Center with Union Station but work on this project was halted indefinitely by the successful 1998 county ballot initiative that banned the use of existing sales tax revenue for subway projects. It is likely that this project will not be revived until after the completion of the Exposition Boulevard line, which will share track with the Blue Line in the easternmost portions of its route. The Regional Connector project would address the awkward situation in which passage between lines terminating at Union Station (the Gold Line and Metrolink commuter trains) and the Blue Line requires a transfer to a Red or Purple Line train.
The "Blue Line" was also an announced routing given to plans for a light rail line to Pasadena. Work began on this line as early as 1998 but was suspended following the 1998 county ballot initiative, which banned use of taxpayer money on subway construction. Adam Schiff authored a bill that created a separate authority to continue work on the line. When construction began again in 2000, it became the Gold Line, since it began at Union Station and thus had no direct connection to the Blue Line.
Throughout 2007, many Metro Blue Line intersections are undergoing track repairs, taking place from Friday evenings to Sunday evenings. Both tracks would go out of service and passengers would have to board buses to get around the construction areas. Since July 2007, most of the intersections being repaired are between the Imperial/Wilmington and Compton Stations.
During peak hours, every other train serves only the stations between Willow and 7th Street/Metro Center to increase the headway on that portion of the route. Willow Station was chosen because of its proximity to the Blue Line storage yard and because it is the last Outbound station with a Park and Ride lot. In the afternoon/evening rush, riders will see some trains destined to "Willow" and others to "Long Beach." Consequently, those riders destined to Long Beach must exit at Willow Station and wait for the next train which terminates at Long Beach Transit Mall.
Blue Line trains are made by Nippon Sharyo. In 2000, train cars 109 and 148 were painted Red to celebrate an anniversary of the Pacific Electric Railway. These red painted cars were repainted to sleek silver, but in 2008, cars 109 and 148 have been repainted to match the rest of the fleet.
As of February 2008, LACMTA estimated that the Blue Line had 73,986 average weekday boardings, and 24.24 million yearly boardings. The line is 22 miles long, with 22 stations. There are 69 cars in the fleet.
In 2006, the Metro Blue Line began using automated stop announcements after the Metro Green and Gold Lines had automated stop announcements since 2004. The announcements do not have the same voice as the Metro Green Line and Metro Gold Line.
More than 87 motorists and pedestrians have been killed at Blue Line crossings since 1990 and there have been more than 792 accidents, making the the line by multiples the deadliest and most accident-prone rail line in the country.
In 1998, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. was commissioned by MTA to evaluate the cause of Blue Line accidents and make recommendations for fiscally realistic mitigation measures. The study reported that the high ridership (over 70,000 per day) was a contributor:
"The MBL has one of the highest ridership counts for light rail lines in the Country. This factor is perhaps the most important contributor to the grade crossing accident rate. The high ridership results in increased pedestrian traffic near stations as compared to other light rail systems. In addition, although MTA Operations does not allow high passenger loads dictate safe operations, there is pressure to maintain travel times and headway schedule requirements (e.g., passenger trip from Los Angeles to Long Beach in less than one hour)."
Other identified contributing factors were the high population density area that leads to more pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the tracks, diverse varied socio-economic community around the line that create literacy and language challenges to public education campaigns, driver frustration due to the slow traffic speeds around the line that leads to more risk taking behavior, and the shared right-of-way with freight track in the fastest running section from Washington station to Willow station, where trains operate at a maximum of 55 mph (90 km/h) between stations.
The accident rate has declined somewhat following the installation of four-quadrant gates at some crossings where the Blue Line shares the right-of-way with freight rail between Washington station and Willow station. The gates effectively prevent drivers from going around lowered gates. In addition, cameras are used along some problem intersections which issue traffic tickets when drivers go around gates. Yet, accidents and deaths still occur at a rate significantly higher rates than comparable lines. On January 26, 2007, a 14-year old boy named Lavert Baker, Jr. was killed on his way walking home from school by a Blue Line train that was carrying his closest sister.
Additionally, four-quadrant gates aren't a feasible mitigation option in the most accident-prone section of the line from Pico Station to Washington Station and from Willow Station to Pacific Station. On May 16, 2007, a teenage girl, who was reportedly talking on her cell phone was killed by a Blue Line train when crossing the tracks without looking both directions.
On September 19, 2008, a week after the September 2008 Chatsworth train collision, a Blue Line light rail commuter train struck a bus on one of the tracks; initial reports suggest most injuries were not severe.
Crime has risen in recent years on the Metro Blue Line, with the main crimes being theft and physical assaults. Few shootings occur at rail stations and none has ever occurred on a train. The grade crossings, station platforms and trains are patrolled by a special division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Ridership by the homeless has become a nuisance problem, with anecdotal reports of public urination and even defecation on trains and station platforms by mentally ill transients. In addition, another common nuisance is vendors hawking pirated copies of copyrighted materials, selling defective merchandise such as used batteries, and the like.
When the Metro Blue Line opened, the line originally had 54 cars (P865; 100-153). In 2000, the Blue Line added 14 cars (P2020; 154-168) from the Metro Green Line after the Green Line began using Siemens cars. The Blue Line currently has 68 train cars in their fleet.
Currently, 67 cars are in the Orange/White livery. Past livery was sky/light/dark blue and red lines on white. In 2000, train cars 109 and 148 were painted Red to celebrate an anniversary of the Pacific Electric Railway. These red painted cars were repainted to the sleek silver livery, similar to the 700-750 series cars, but in 2008, Cars 109 and 148 were repainted to match most of the fleet. Also, car 105 is in current livery, but is all white with black lettering, similar to Metro Gold Line car 302.
|7th St/Metro Center||Red Line Purple Line Harbor Transitway|
Metro Rapid: 714, 720, 753, 760, 770
Metro Express: 450X
Foothill Transit: Silver Streak
|February 1991||Los Angeles|
|Pico-Chick Hearn||Harbor Transitway|
Metro Rapid: 728, 730
|July 14, 1990|
|Grand||Metro Rapid: 714||July 14, 1990|
|San Pedro||July 14, 1990|
|Washington||July 14, 1990|
|Vernon||Metro Rapid: 705||July 14, 1990|
|Slauson||July 14, 1990|
|Florence||Metro Rapid: 711||July 14, 1990||Florence|
|Firestone||Metro Rapid: 715||July 14, 1990|
|103rd Street-Kenneth Hahn||July 14, 1990||Watts|
Metro Rapid: 753
|July 14, 1990||Willowbrook|
|Compton||July 14, 1990||Compton|
|Artesia||Metro Rapid: 760, 762||July 14, 1990|
|Del Amo||July 14, 1990||Carson|
|Wardlow||July 14, 1990||Long Beach|
|Willow||July 14, 1990|
|Pacific Coast Highway||July 14, 1990|
|Anaheim Street||July 14, 1990|
|5th Street (southbound only)||September 1990|
|1st Street (southbound only)||Metro Express: 577X||September 1990|
|Transit Mall (southbound only)||Metro Express: 577X||September 1990|
|Pacific (northbound only)||September 1990|