Expo Line to Become “E Line” as Metro Revamps Transit Naming System

Under Metro's new naming system, the Expo Line (pictured) will be known as the E Line. Photos: LA Metro.

LA Metro announces plans to change line names from colors to letters starting in 2019.

By Sam Catanzaro

Getting to Hollywood from Santa Monica on light rail is as easy as taking the Expo Line to the Red Line but in the coming years, commuters will need to get used some new jargon when describing Los Angeles’ transit system after the Metro Board voted to change their naming system for trains. Instead, the trip to Hollywood will be a ride on the E Line to the B Line, or for those who take the Purple Line, get used to the D Line.

Last week, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors voted to create a new naming system for Los Angeles’ transit system, replacing colors with letters (though lines will still have an associated color).

This move is an attempt to bring more clarity to Metro’s transit system as the agency looks to expand. There are currently eight rail and bus rapid transit lines (BRT) in Metro’s system, and the agency anticipates that with the 2016 passage of Measure M, more funding will allow for the construction of several additional rail and BRT lines in the coming years

The new rail and busway line names that Metro has announced.

“Metro’s current transit line naming convention is inconsistent, and the system is growing and changing. All current line names are based on colors (Blue, Red, Gold, Purple, etc.) with one exception – the Expo Line. As the system grows, continuing with color names will mean selecting line names based on shades of color (i.e. Lime, Rose, Aqua, Olive, Lavender, etc.) rather than basic colors. This can pose visual and language barriers and can sometimes be difficult to decipher on maps and signage,” Metro staff wrote in a staff report.

Metro conducted a survey with more than 2,700 riders of the transit system and when participants were asked which naming option would be easiest to understand and navigate, colors and numbers and colors and letters ended up in a virtual tie. The biggest challenge of adding numbers, however, is that they would have conflicted with both the agency’s number-based bus system as well as its rail station platform numbering, and therefore letters were chosen.

“The best transit line naming convention for the future is colors and letters for both rail lines and bus rapid transit lines,” Metro staff wrote. “This prevents confusion with the numbering of the bus system and rail station platforms and provides an ample number of letter names to accommodate Metro’s planned transit lines.”

Metro’s 2020 concept map for Los Angeles County’s transit system.

Implementation will be phased in, starting with renaming the Blue Line to the A Line when the line reopens to the public after the New Blue Improvements Project are complete in May, 2019. The assignment of line names will be based on the chronology of line openings, so the Blue Line will be the A Line, Red Line the B Line, ect. See below image for full list of names.

Along with the announcement, Metro also released a 2022 concept map, which includes the new C line which will take Westside riders to LAX via rail. See full map above.

The renaming process is estimated to cost $8.9 million to update signage and maps and facilitate public outreach and marketing.