Los Angeles officials are in desperate need of a new name for a transit project in southeast Los Angeles County that has caused some confusion among the masses.
Despite its name, the planned transit expansion project stops short of Orange County and comes nowhere near Santa Ana. Instead the 14.5-mile segment connects Artesia to downtown Los Angeles with nine stops in the Gateway Cities along the way.
The name comes from a long-forgotten transit line between L.A. and Santa Ana operated by Pacific Electric Railway. The line hasn’t been in use since the 1950s, but LA Metro owns the right of way and the name has carried over and survived through the years.
Confusion over the name has caused issues for LA Metro, with some members of the Metro Board voicing concern that its inaccurate name might’ve hindered the project’s ability to get funding.
After the Orange County Transit Authority began plans to deploy a streetcar in 2024 in the city of Santa Ana and beyond, the state allocated some funding to help make the project a reality. That project also follows a route once used by Pacific Electric, but the similarities stop there.
According to Los Angeles Daily News, confusion over the name led to frustration among some Metro board members who believed their project was stiffed over bad marketing because state and federal regulators already believed the project received funds that were actually sent to the OCTA project.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn serves as Vice Chair of the LA Metro board and her supervisorial district encompasses the area where the proposed line will service.
Hahn has been critical about Metro’s failure to get state funding and has pinned some of the blame on the name. A big proponent of the project, she says the rail line is in desperate need of new branding to ensure those in the community she represents have access to to equitable transit.
In an email to KTLA, Hahn said 44% of the residents along the line are at or below the poverty line and as much as 18% don’t own a car. She said that state and federal funding is paying close attention to projects that improve equity in the community and said this project fits that criteria.
“Southeast LA and the Gateway Cities have historically been underserved by high-quality transit, so this project will be a major upgrade for these regions,” Hahn said. “But if its name says nothing about the communities it serves, how can we expect residents to understand and be excited about it?”
Confusion and frustration over the project has finally led to a search for a new, permanent name that Hahn hopes will better reflect the homes and identities of the people it services.
Metro has launched a renaming contest for the new segment, and each person who submits a name for consideration will be entered to win a $100 gift card.
“The project name should reflect the communities’ character, culture and experience of the people who live, work and play in the cities this new line will serve,” Metro said when it announced the contest.
Suggestions can be made online or by calling the project helpline at 213-922-6262 and leaving a voicemail. New name recommendations are due by Sept. 29.
A winner of the gift card will be chosen at random in October, while a panel of judges whittle down the selections to the top five. Public voting among the top five will take place in November and the winner will be chosen and announced in the following weeks.
Hahn hopes that people in her district will take the time to provide a recommendation and have their voices be heard.
“I think those future riders deserve a say in what this line is called. It should reflect the places they call home,” Hahn said. “We need our state and federal partners to know exactly who this line will serve.”
For complete rules on the contest and more information about the project, click here.