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Why Metro is Finally Able to Offer Train Service Until 2 A.M.

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News spread like a bullet train across Los Angeles when Metro today posted a blog post announcing that it would expand hours of rail service until 2 a.m. on weekends. Such a move has sometimes -- and hopefully with some exaggeration -- been cited as what could cure the city for residents and workers alike.

Of course, it won't, but it may become a game changer, especially for late-shift workers, tourists, and residents who are either transit dependent or want to have more options for getting off the road. When Metro last year announced that rail service after rush hour would become more frequent -- 10 minutes between trains -- it was an experiment that paid off, literally, with increased revenue.

A lot this recent improvement to Metro operations is thanks to CEO Art Leahy, said Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition, which lobbies for transit improvements in Southern California. "We've been asking for late-night service, and Art believed that since we have invested billions, that we should act like a big city."

Reed added that there's a culture shift going on within the agency based on Leahy's hiring of "can-do" people. They "are not interested in excuses," he said, "they want results."

Case in point, Reed said he tried for a long time to get a Rapid bus line to connect directly with a Metrolink train station in the San Fernando Valley. Staff, citing complex in-house rules, said the stop had to be a half mile away, which didn't make sense for riders needing bus/train connectivity. Once Leahy's team caught wind, it was fixed within days. Reed listed off similar stories of cutting through institutional bureaucracy, like how a bus stop was finally placed outside a veterans' service building and why the Orange Line is expected to actually run on schedule later this year.

The new late-night weekend service is part of the agency's recently-approved budget, which also includes yet-to-come improvements like more frequent midday service and an expanded Gold Line schedule. Trains will now stop operating around 2 a.m. instead of around midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

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