LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The 25-year anniversary of the Metro Red Line was marked this week at Union Station, with the downtown-to-North Hollywood route hailed as a major milestone in the history of transit in Los Angeles.
The line had five stops extending from downtown into Westlake when it originally opened, but grew in phases to 13 stops into the San Fernando Valley.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who also serves as the chair of the Metro Board of Directors, said former Mayor Tom Bradley was the driving force behind the creation of the Red Line and Metro’s rail system. Bradley served as mayor from 1973 to 1993 and died in 1998.
“I was about a year old when Tom Bradley was on the campaign trail and he said we are going to bring a subway to Los Angeles,” Garcetti said at a ceremony attended by Bradley’s daughter, Phyllis, along with city, county and transit leaders. “By the time it came, I was graduated from college, and as he said, ‘I promised to break ground in 18 months and it took a little longer, but here we are.’”
The Red Line averages 145,000 daily riders, according to Garcetti, who noted that he took a short Red Line trip to the ceremony from the Grand Park station near City Hall.
The line was the second subway route to open following the Blue Line, which began carrying riders in 1990 from L.A. to Long Beach.
The subway system now consists of six lines stretching from Azusa to Santa Monica.
“Back in the day, this was an absolute game changer for this region and it continues to be the spine for our bus and rail network,” Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said.
Other members of the Metro Board of Directors who attended the ceremony included county Supervisor Hilda Solis, Duarte Mayor John Fasana, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian and housing advocate Jackie Dupont Walker.
Actor George Takei, who served on the board of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, the predecessor agency to Metro, was on hand, as was former City Councilman Tom LaBonge.
None of the speakers at the ceremony acknowledged challenges Metro is facing — ridership in 2017 fell to its lowest point in more than a decade — or other troubling headlines that have plagued the rail system recently, including a survey by the nonprofit organization Peace Over Violence that found that 22 percent of the roughly 23,000 Metro riders who were queried said they had experienced sexual harassment while using the Metro system, as well as a 2016 survey by Metro that found 29 percent of former riders stopped taking public transportation because they did not feel safe.
In speaking about the sexual harassment survey and other issues of safety, Councilmember Nury Martinez said last week at a City Council committee meeting that she does not feel secure riding the Red Line with her 8-year-old daughter.
The ceremony also came on the same day that an 18-year-old woman held a news conference with her attorney to discuss a claim she filed against the city after she was dragged off a Metro Red Line train by a Los Angeles Police Department officer for allegedly refusing to take her foot off a seat. Video of the arrest was widely viewed on social media.
Garcetti, who was peppered with questions from reporters about the confrontation after the ceremony, took a neutral stance and said he did not want to make any rush judgments on what happened.
When asked about Martinez’s statements, Garcetti said he rides the line all the time with family members.
“I respect people’s perspectives. I don’t know when that was, I look forward in speaking to Martinez,” Garcetti said. “I ride with my family, I ride with my daughter. I’ve seen a real uptick in the amount of security personnel, and that’s important for our system so people feel safe, and I’m proud of that.”
He added, “I take her remarks seriously, as I would any rider, whether they are a councilwoman or not.”
When asked about declining ridership, Garcetti said. “It’s happening in public transit around the country. I think part of it is rideshare (options) for some people. Part of it is it still doesn’t get you where you need to go. And traffic certainly for the buses is down because they are stuck in the same traffic as others, but what’s the option? Is closing down the option? No, you have to expand them because traffic will only get worse without that.”