Metro Red Line

Red Line Index

"Today was the first day I used the subway...Thank God for the Metro Rail!"
- From the film "Independence Day"

At Last, A Subway to Somewhere

The Metro Red Line, Los Angeles' first modern heavy-rail subway, takes passengers under Downtown Los Angeles, from Union Station to the Civic Center, the jewelry, retail and financial districts, MacArthur Park in the Westlake district.

The line branches in two directions - one towards the Mid-Wilshire/Koreatown area at Wilshire and Western and to Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, with stops at Universal City and North Hollywood.

The Metro Red Line is operated and administered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Red Line Facts and Figures

  • Length: 17.4 miles
  • Groundbreaking: September, 1986
  • Opening: January 30, 1993 (Wilshire extension opened July 13, 1996; Hollywood extension opened June 12, 1999; North Hollywood extension opened June 24, 2000)
  • Cost: $1.4 billion; $1.8 billion (segment 2); $2.4 billion (segment 3)
  • Ridership: 121,000 daily (as of 7/00)


Click on a station to find out about its location, nearby points of interest, auto and bicycle parking availability and connecting transit:

Metro Rail system map

A Ride on the Red Line

The Metro Red Line runs entirely underground underneath Downtown Los Angeles. Beginning at Union Station, where the subway interfaces with Metrolink and Amtrak, the train takes off and curves southbound to the Civic Center/Tom Bradley station (named in honor of the former Los Angeles mayor who promised a subway for the city). Moments later, the train whisks to the neon-decorated Pershing Square station. The train curves west, this time reaching 7th St/Metro Center, where one can transfer to the Metro Blue Line to Long Beach. Afterwards, the line reaches the Westlake district at MacArthur Park. Heading towards the Mid-Wilshire area, the subway has stops at Vermont, Normandie and Western.

Also from Vermont, the line branches north towards Hollywood, with stops at Beverly, Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards, then veering west with stops at Western Avenue and at one of the world's most famous intersections - Hollywood and Vine. The line continues west under Hollywood Boulevard, stopping at Highland Avenue, in the vicinity of such legendary and popular attractions such as Mann's Chinese Theatre, the El Capitan Theatre and the new Hollywood and Highland shopping and entertainment complex, opening 2001.

Subway trains race up to 70 miles per hour underneath the Santa Monica mountains before reaching the Universal City station, where the world-famous Universal Studios theme park and the popular CityWalk attraction are nearby. The line ends at North Hollywood, near the burgeoning NoHo arts district. The line is especially popular with Downtown L.A. office workers, who use the subway as a lunch hour shuttle and to take them to and from their Metrolink trains. It is also popular with many Latino residents, who wish to travel between the Broadway shopping district and the Westlake/Pico-Union area. With the newly-restored Angels Flight railway back in service, the Red Line has also become the perfect mode of choice, with the 4th street exits just a stone's throw away from the Flight.

With the opening of the North Hollywood extension, the subway will be even more popular with local residents and visiting tourists alike.


(Effective February, 1995)

Regular Fares

  • $1.35 One-Way
  • $ .90 One-Way (via Discount Token)
  • $2.70 Round Trip
  • $ .25 Transfer to Metro Bus or Rail

Senior/Handicapped Fares

  • $ .45 One-Way
  • $ .90 Round Trip
  • $ .10 Transfer to Metro Bus or Rail

Children under 5 ride free.

One way tickets are valid traveling away from the station of purchase, and are good for two hours. Round-trip tickets run until the end of the operating day. There are no barriers to enter the stations; passengers ride on the honor system and are required to carry a valid ticket, pass or transfer. Failure to carry any of these upon inspection results in a $250 fine.

Park & Ride/Kiss & Ride

Free (unless otherwise specified) automobile and motorcycle parking for Metro Red Line commuters is available at the following stations:

  • North Hollywood
  • Universal City
  • Hollywood/Vine ($4.45 per day)
  • Union Station ($5.50 per day)

'Kiss & Ride' areas are designated places where automobiles can stop or temporarily park to drop off Metro Rail passengers. All Red Line stations with Park & Ride lots have Kiss & Ride areas, in addition to the following stations:

  • Westlake/MacArthur Park
  • Wilshire/Vermont


Cyclists with an MTA Cycle Express Permit may bring their bicycles on board the Metro Rail trains. For a bike permit application, call (213) 922-7000.

Travel Times

From Union Station to:
  • Civic Center: 2 minutes
  • Pershing Square: 3 minutes
  • 7th St/Metro Center: 5 minutes
  • Westlake/MacArthur Park: 7 minutes
  • Wilshire/Vermont: 9 minutes
  •     Wilshire/Normandie: 11 minutes
  •     Wilshire/Western: 13 minutes
  • Vermont/Beverly: 11 minutes
  • Vermont/Santa Monica: 13 minutes
  • Vermont/Sunset: 14 minutes
  • Hollywood/Western: 16 minutes
  • Hollywood/Vine: 19 minutes
  • Hollywood/Highland: 21 minutes
  • Universal City: 25 minutes
  • North Hollywood: 29 minutes

Service Hours & Frequency

  • Days: Seven days a week, including holidays.
  • Frequency: Every 5-15 minutes
  • Hours:
To North Hollywood (Westbound)
dep. Union Station
To Union Station (Eastbound)
dep. North Hollywood station
First Train Last TrainFirst Train Last Train
4:30 a.m.11:33 p.m.4:48 a.m.11:55 p.m.

To Mid-Wilshire (Westbound)
dep. Union Station
To Union Station (Eastbound)
dep. Wilshire/Western station
First Train Last TrainFirst Train Last Train
4:56 a.m.11:33 p.m.4:41 a.m.12:02 a.m.

Safety & Security

Security is provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, and L.A.'s first subway system is extremely safe. Vandalism is nonexistent, and the stations and cars are always bright and clean. As on the Blue Line, stations contain surveillance cameras and station-to-central control intercoms.

Earthquake and Fire safety

Although Los Angeles is prone to seismic activity, the MTA contends that the Red Line, as well as all modern subway systems are safe. In fact, the subway is one of the safest places to be - there are no structures or falling objects to endanger you. The tunnels and stations are designed to sway with the earth, and not collapse. Also, it is a scientific fact that seismic waves are milder below the surface. In the event of a magnitude 4.5 earthquake or higher, trains will automatically stop. During earthquakes 6.0 or higher, trains will not only stop, but service will be suspended temporarily to allow inspection of the system.

Though many question the existence of a subway in "Earthquake Country," few actually realize that there are many other cities in the world with subways and seismic activity: San Francisco, Tokyo and Mexico City, for example. All of their respective subway systems suffered very little or no damage as a result of a devastating earthquake.

In the 6.8 magnitude Northridge Earthquake of 1994, although the Red Line was not in operation at the time of the quake, emergency systems shut down power. A few minutes after the shaking stopped, emergency power systems were activated. The earthquake caused absolutely no significant damage whatsoever to the subway.

Los Angeles also has underground methane gas pockets. The tunnel walls are protected by a layer of plastic to avoid seepage of gas. In the event of a gas leak, stations are equipped with alarm systems. In case of under-car train fires, an automatic sprinkler system is installed between the tracks.

Future Extensions

Future Openings

Funding problems, bureaucratic mismanagement and other complications have suspended or cancelled proposed segments of the subway. In 1998, L.A. County voters passed a measure to ban local tax revenues from funding subway tunnel construction.
  • The Mid-City segment from Western Avenue to Pico/San Vicente and beyond to West L.A. has been suspended. Aside from funding problems, the alignment itself has been in question, as some have suggested that the subway run straight through the busier Wilshire Blvd corridor rather than diverge southwest. The Wilshire corridor remains the busiest transportation corridor in Los Angeles. Businesses and residents have strongly opposed building a dedicated busway on Wilshire, as well as any at-grade or elevated rail system, so there is a possibility that eventually the subway will be continued through Wilshire in the distant future.

  • The East L.A. Red Line extension has been cancelled. A high-ridership corridor, it is now a likely candidate for a light rail line within the next 10-15 years.

  • Planned extensions to the West San Fernando Valley is in limbo. The MTA is currently exploring the possibility of a dedicated busway through the Valley. But it has been proven again and again that rail, much more than bus, is more likely to "get people out of their cars," and if the initial response to the Red Line to the Valley is an indication, the Red Line may one day continue in the Valley as an elevated segment.

Subway Vehicle Facts & Figures

  • Technology: A650 model Heavy Rail, 4-axle, configured in married pairs. Third-rail powered (750V DC)
  • Manufacturer: Breda Construzione Ferroviarie, Ltd, Italy
  • Fleet: 108 vehicles (501-530 series (built 1988-1993); 531-604 series w/AC propulsion and intercar safety barriers (built 1995-1997))
  • Cost: $1.5 million each
  • Length: 75'
  • Width: 10'
  • Height: 12'6" (top of rail to roof); 6'8" (interior ceiling height)
  • Weight: 82,000 lbs
  • Capacity: 59 seated; 169 max seated + standing + 1 wheelchair
  • Speed: 70 mph maximum
  • Acceleration: 3.0 mph/sec
  • Operation: Runs in 2, 4 or 6-car configurations, depending on peak period. Automatic train control ability.

The cars feature air conditioning, emergency intercom, wheelchair spaces, emergency braking and have automatic train control capability.

The vehicle maintenance facility is located south of Union Station, on the west bank of the L.A. River.

(M) Metro Trivia: While digging the Metro Red Line through Wilshire Boulevard, construction crews found the fossils of prehistoric marine animals!

The Metro Red Line was featured in the movies, "Lethal Weapon 3" (1993), "Speed" (1994), and "Strange Days" (1995).

The new Wilshire/Vermont station contains the longest escalators in the state of California.

This WWW service was created by Elson Trinidad ( Special thanks to Charles Hobbs (