Name That Train

Who doesn't like a good challenge? Asking residents to improve our city by volunteering at a local school, participating in street tree plantings or logging on to MY LA 311 to report illegal dumping makes L.A. a better place to live. And sometimes, a challenge can be just plain fun.

Name that Train is the new challenge L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti left us with this morning. The occasion was a press event for the Expo Line at the new Palms Station at Palms, National and the 10 Freeway in West L.A.

Since it's not really a "subway" to the sea, Garcetti suggested the Exposition Line needs an equally catchy moniker like "Grand to the sand" or "Beaches to the Bars."

That's really the best I can do for a scoop from today's event, though I was hoping the Mayor would have taken the opportunity to announce an earlier opening than March 2016 of the line to Santa Monica. I am still hopeful.

Instead, "Safety First" was the worthy sound bite uttered again and again as to why six months of equipment testing which began around two months ago means the line's opening in March of next year. Come on Metro, even my math is better than that.

Other speakers at today's event included Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Councilman Mike Bonin, Councilman Paul Koretz and representatives from Culver City and Skanska-Rados, the joint venture contractor expected to deliver the project under budget and ahead of schedule.

Maybe one of them can come up with a better catchphrase than the Mayor for the completed Expo Line?

In the meantime, today's press conference was a chance to celebrate how far we have come since opposition to the train was a common refrain in some quarters of the West Side. In his remarks Councilman Bonin paid tribute to tireless transit advocates like Darrell Clarke and underscored how attitudes in District 11 have changed from not in my backyard to, when is the line going to open so I can ride it to work?

Today was a happy time. A chance to learn a bit more about Metro's $36 billion construction budget and the 3,600 jobs, many of them local as Supervisor Ridley-Thomas noted, that the project has created.

Mr. Mayor, I'm fine with whatever we call the Expo Line just so long as it's not late arriving.

Yours in transit,