Metro rail update: exponential improvement for SMC commuter students

Life is about to get much better for SMC students who commute westbound towards campus. Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA or Metro) test trains began preliminary runs along the new Expo Line corridor extending the light rail service from its current terminus at the Culver City station to downtown Santa Monica at 4th St. and Colorado Ave.

Completion of this Expo Line project is predicted for early to mid 2016.

Ferris Kawar, SMC's Sustainability project manager, sees this as a viable solution for students troubled by parking on campus.

"Everyone is so frustrated by with the parking situation here," Kawar said. "We don't need more parking structures. I feel like we need to get more people out of their cars."

Upon completion, students will be able to use the 17th Street/SMC station located at 17th Street and Colorado Ave., which is about a 15-minute walk away from campus. Plans to provide regular shuttle service to and from the station and SMC campus are currently in the works, said Steven Kelmer, Big Blue Bus driver.

According to the City of Santa Monica’s website, travel time between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica will be cut to approximately 50 minutes on the Expo Line, even during rush hour traffic.

Trains will eventually arrive every 6 to 12 minutes depending on the time of day. Current departure times on the existing phase of the Expo Line start at 4:54AM and end at 1:06AM weekdays. Friday night into Saturday morning departures extend from 12:50AM to 2:10AM.

Currently, the base one way fare on Metro is $1.75 each way for one Metro bus or train ride. A transfer from Metro to municipal systems, such as Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus, can be purchased for an additional .50 cents.

Students attending an accredited college, university or vocational institution in Los Angeles County may purchase a reduced rate monthly pass good on all MTA buses and trains for $43. An application for the monthly pass must be made in person at a Metro Customer Center. The application cost is $1, requires an ID photo, and takes about 6 weeks to process.

There is also great news for students who use other alternative modes of transportation to get to SMC. According to the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority’s website, “The Expo Line has been designed as a multi-modal transit parkway that includes a bikeway and bike facilities. The Phase 2 portion of the bikeway is mostly an exclusive bike path that travels along the right-of-way to 17th Street in Santa Monica, where it will connect to the City of Santa Monica’s existing bikeway system. The bikeway includes lighting and landscaping, and each station will feature secure bike racks and lockers for the convenience of transit patrons.”

For those commuters who travel north and southbound to campus, keep an eye out for the Crenshaw/LAX Line that is currently under construction.