This year has seen the extension of two Metro lines to
affluent communities. The income level around Metro
stations can go from twice the amount of Los Angeles
County’s median income to well below in a matter of a few
stops. We decided to look at median household income
levels along all the lines to get a clearer picture of who’s
being served. While not a perfect measure, looking at
income levels along the Los Angeles Metro stations offers a
look at how income is distributed.
The Blue Line is Los Angeles’ oldest and second busiest
Metro rail service serving some of Los Angeles County’s
poorest residents. Only two stations are in areas where
median incomes are above the county’s level. Little
neighborhood development has occurred along the Blue
Line stations compared with other lines due to a mix of
economic and zoning factors, according to Genevieve
Giuliano of USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
The $2.06 billion Crenshaw/LAX transit project
is planned to open in 2019 and will serve
neighborhoods in South L.A. and South Bay with
mostly black and Latino residents.
Construction of the Expo Line extension was completed
in 2015 and is expected to open in early 2016. Stations
along the extension reside in more affluent and
predominantly white areas.
Stations in Pasadena and elsewhere in the San Gabriel
Valley are mostly above the county median income
level. Levels sharply decrease when entering downtown
Los Angeles. The Gold Line extension to Azusa finished
construction in 2015 and is scheduled to open March 5.
Little Tokyo/Arts District
The Douglas station had the highest median income
among the Metro rail stations. The Green Line was built
along the 105 Freeway as a result of a legal settlement
with Caltrans. The line is the only rail line to not service
downtown Los Angeles.
Phase one of three of the construction has begun and
is expected to open in 2024, allowing riders to
commute to Wilshire and La Cienega. The entire
extension line project is estimated to cost $7.2 billion.
Universal City was the only station above the county
median income level. The Red Line was one of the
most controversial subway lines, according to
Genevieve Giuliano at USC’s Sol Price School of Public
Policy. The rail line plan was originally supposed to run
from downtown to Fairfax via Wilshire Boulevard but
faced so much opposition that the route was altered to
go through Vermont Avenue up to San Fernando Valley.
The $1.43 billion rail project plans to allow commuters
to connect to multiple stations and allow direct travel
between Azusa and Long Beach and East L.A. and
Santa Monica. It is scheduled to open in 2020.
Median household income estimates for each station were
calculated by taking the aggregate number of people
who fell in each income bracket for all U.S. Census
tracts within a half-mile radius of a station. The 2014
five-year median income estimates from the Census
were used. Some tracts were counted for two stations
due to their proximity to both.