The Expo Line, which now winds all the way from downtown LA to Santa Monica, opens Friday (with free rides Friday and Saturday). And if anyone deserves to say, "I told you so," it's former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Endorsed by many of the key subway opponents, including Waxman and Yaroslavsky, Villaraigosa talked of a "subway to the sea" during the campaign and staked a big chunk of his political capital on a promise to expand the rail system. "It would be the most utilized subway in the nation, maybe the world," the mayor recently said. "It would also be the most cost-effective public-transportation project in America." Villaraigosa took the first step by assuming the helm of the MTA. Now, the question is whether he will have the clout to move the political mountains required to get Los Angeles the transit system it deserves.
Villaraigosa pushed it when few thought it would really happen, including me. I specifically remember chiding him in person and on the radio over his predictions that there would be this line.
I wasn't alone. As Metro blogger Steve Hymon writes, there were transit activists pushing for the Expo line as far back as the 1980s, but there was a lot of resistance and no money. Even he says he was skeptical, that there was a "better chance of planetary takeover by apes."
The money problem changed in 2008 with the passage of Measure R, and now we have this vital link in the transit grid.
I spoke with Villaraigosa Wednesday at the Santa Monica station; listen to the audio to see if he says a well-deserved, "I told you so."