There was a blip of hope when the Metro’s first stations opened, but nearly every aspect made no sense for convenience or ease, the two typical reasons public transit exists in the first place. The Blue Line -- the first to open, in 1990 -- connected Downtown to... Long Beach, via a route so perplexing it was hard to imagine who approved it. What many people, like my parents, wanted to be the beginning of a new world of convenient public transit was thwarted by location (for my family, the nearest station to our Van Nuys house was in North Hollywood -- not exactly walkable) and timing -- the Metro originally stopped running at 11 and, even as a teenager, that was prohibitive to any sort of nighttime activity.
But, more importantly, entire, major parts of the city were cut off from the train system entirely.That first line gave short-shrift to, well, anything North of Pico. When the Red Line came along, it formed an L: now you could get from the Valley to Downtown, if you happened to live within driving distance of a station. And so it went: soon Hollywood connected to KTown, but not Pasadena; then Pasadena could connect, but not Culver. And unreachable for this entire time was the whole Westside -- the City ostensibly forgetting that access to the ocean was the basis of LA’s appeal in the first place. To many Angelenos, the train system as a whole felt like a failure.
And then... things changed. Slowly. Downtown, long regarded by many as unsafe and unlivable, started easing towards both, and the stations that were there so early started making sense, first with Staples and LA Live and eventually with restaurant rows and livable loft spaces coming in. (We could get into a gentrification conversation here, but I'd rather not: suffice it to say that money coming into Downtown is a boon financially but also is tricky politically, and for the sake of this story, lets leave it at that.) Hollywood and Highland's tourists were a quick hop away from Universal CityWalk; while this was not quite an Angelenos' dream itinerary, no doubt it enhanced many, many vacations (and, yes, put tons of money in corporate coffers, too). Somewhere along the way, too, Metro loosened its timing restrictions; the trains run 'til 2am on weekends, though they certainly didn't do a great job publicizing that change to passengers who may want to use the train system for late nights, but were still stuck carpooling to work.