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Weekend late-night train service is extended, starting tonight

July 27, 2012 | 12:46 pm

Metro trains will now run until 2 a.m. on the weekend, and Orange Line bus service will go until 2:40 a.m.

In a victory for night crawlers and those working the late shift, Metro trains will now run until 2 a.m. on weekends.

The new extended service on Friday and Saturday nights begins today, and riders on the Blue, Gold, Green, Red, Purple and Expo Lines will be able to catch a train every 20 minutes between midnight and 2 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Service on the Orange Line busway that stretches across the San Fernando Valley was also extended on Friday and Saturday nights until 2:40 a.m. so riders transferring from the North Hollywood Red Line station late on those nights can still use it.

It's good news for transit riders such as 32-year-old Mark Romero, who works as a court clerk in downtown L.A.

"When the train stops at 11:30 p.m., you're forced to leave early or you're stranded," Romero said of a night out on the weekend. "It gives you more breathing room to get home."

Romero said the new service is also a good incentive to take public transportation when going out to drink in Long Beach or Hollywood, avoiding the risk of driving impaired.

Metro Board Chairman and County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said the lack of late-night service was one of the biggest complaints from the community.

"Businesses will be able to reach a new range of clientele. More people can go out to eat, drink and have fun on weekends without worrying about a midnight curfew, and more workers now have the option of taking that later shift and can rest assured they're going to have a safe, reliable way to make it home," Antonovich said in a news release.

It is expected to costs about $760,000 annually to extend the rail service and an additional $76,295 a year for the extra hours on the Orange Line.

At a news conference announcing the change, Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O’Connor, a Metro board member,said the new service reflects a change in Los Angeles culture.

"Even though L.A. used to be known as the place where you rolled up the sidewalks at 10 p.m.," she said, "not anymore."

Jeff Loeb. associate general manager of the Pantages Theatre, said he thinks the change means more people can now spend whole evenings in Hollywood, instead of just a few hours at a show or dinner.

"As they say at the Pantages," Loeb said, "Bravo!"


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Photo: Metro Blue Line cars zip past a station near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Flower Street. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times