Los Angeles, in case you haven't heard, is doing everything in its power to shed its reputation as a car-first (or, in some minds, car-only) city. Part of that effort involves a massive expansion to the city's rail system — with six new lines slated to open between 2012 and 2020. One of these, the Expo light rail line, which runs more than 8 miles west of downtown Los Angeles toward Culver City, opened in June 2012 and is now carrying nearly 28,000 people each weekday.
The success of L.A.'s rail program will take years to determine, but an early analysis released this week suggests it's on the right track (so to speak). A research team led by Marlon Boarnet of the University of Southern California reports that the Expo Line led to significant changes in travel behavior — mostly in the desired direction. Boarnet and company found major reductions in driving and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as increases in rail ridership and physical activity.