Metro Regional Connector Officially Opened to the Public

Daniel Pineda

On Friday, June 16, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) celebrated the grand opening of the completed Regional Connector transit project at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM).

According to an official press release by Metro, the newly-opened Regional Connector transforms the way many riders will experience the Metro system, with nearly two miles of new track that allow light rail trains to travel between Union Station and the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown’s Financial District.

The opening ceremony of the Regional Connector, emceed by actor, Trustee, Chair Emeritus and JANM founding member, George Takei, featured the unveiling of a plaque installed at the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, in honor of the former Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta.

Mineta, a dedicated member of the Japanese American Community, worked closely with Metro in securing the financing for the Regional Connector at the federal level. Mineta played a pivotal part in the Regional Connector transit project, thanks to his relationships with the Little Tokyo Community Council, Metro, and those at the federal level.

During his time in Congress, Mineta championed legislation promoting and furthering justice. Thanks to him, all public transit buses are universally accessible because of his leadership in shaping the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Mineta was also a co-sponsor of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

“It’s finally opened! Los Angeles County residents now have three gorgeous new underground stations to help them travel easily across L.A. County and readily reach more Downtown LA locations via Metro rail,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “What better way to celebrate the opening than with the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Norman Y. Mineta, a national treasure and someone whose many worthy accomplishments played a crucial role in the transportation industry. Mineta’s legacy will continue to live on for those who pass through the Little Tokyo/Arts District Station.”

According to Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, the first vice chair for the Metro Board of Directors, the Regional Connector’s development also allowed for Metro to merge several of its train lines, creating two serpent-like train lines where there were once three.

“The Regional Connector is a long-awaited promise of transit equity for Los Angeles County residents,” said Dupont-Walker. “Bringing together Metro’s L (Gold), A (Blue) E (Expo), B (Red), D (Purple) lines at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station provides Angelenos more access to LA’s rich cultural landscape, with access to employment centers, faith institutions, education and entertainment hubs that help Los Angeles thrive.”

The Regional Connector’s opening also grants riders access to three new underground stations along its transit line. The new stations include:

Little Tokyo/Arts District Station, where riders will have easy access to historically rich and vibrant neighborhoods and cultural institutions.

Historic Broadway Station, which features the Broadway Theater District, and Old Spring Street, known as the original Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles.

Grand Avenue Arts/Bunker Hill Station, which connects riders to Downtown Los Angeles’ performing arts institutions, museums, fine dining experiences and more.

“For the first time since the Blue Line opened over 30 years ago, it will now provide a seamless, single-seat connection from Downtown Long Beach to Union Station, Pasadena, and beyond,” said Hahn. “This isn’t just an infrastructure or rail project – this is going to transform how people all across LA County get to jobs, schools, the doctor, or even just a day at the museum.”

According to Metro, the new underground stations will offer easier access to medical facilities and jobs and commerce centers throughout the city. Many of the key destinations are within walking distance of the new underground stations include, but are not limited to: the Japanese American National Museum, Million Dollar Theater and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“With the Regional Connector’s opening, more people and communities across the region will have a faster, easier Metro ride, all while Metro continues its work to make the experience safer, cleaner, and more welcoming for today’s and future riders, “ said Metro Board Member and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass. “I know that so many people have worked hard to bring the Regional Connector online, and I intend to build on those efforts alongside my colleagues on the Metro Board of Directors to make sure that our transit network is a world-class system that works for everyone.”

The three new underground stations include eight new artworks commissioned through the agency’s Metro Art program. All artists involved were selected through an open, competitive selection process following the recommendation of a panel of community-based arts professionals. The three new stations’ plazas, concourses, and platform levels are all designed by the following: Andrea Bowers, Audrey Chan, Mark Steven Greenfield, Ann Hamilton, Pearl C. Hsiung, Clare Rojas, Mungo Thomson, and Clarence Williams.

The Regional Connector was designed and built with the help of community input, according to Metro. In addition, the project benefited from Metro’s Board-approved small business mitigation programs: the Business Interruption Fund and Eat Shop Play, which helped support small businesses in the areas along this project during construction. The Business Interruption Fund provided support for businesses around the Little Tokyo/Arts District and History Broadway stations- $3.3 million was awarded to 56 small “mom and pop” shops and the Eat Shop Play program provided free marketing assistance to 102 businesses along the Regional Connector line.

“The Regional Connector is a transformative project that gives Angelenos from all over the county better access to opportunity and everything that makes living in LA great,” said Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “Because of this amazing project, people from as far as Azusa will now have easier access to the beach – Santa Monica or Long Beach - and parts of East Los Angeles that were disconnected from the rail system throughout construction will now be re-connected and more accessible to residents and visitors. Thank you to all the Metro team members, contractors, and workers who helped us deliver this incredible project in a safe and equitable way, and thank you to the LA County taxpayers, without whom none of this would have been possible.”

Throughout the summer, Metro will be hosting additional celebrations, including station dedications and community events. For additional information about the Regional Connector, you can visit Metro’s official website at


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