Culver City Student Wins Tunnel Boring Naming Contest for Purple Line Extension

Photo: Courtesy.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Harriet Tubman honored

By Keldine Hull

Two new Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) for the Purple Line extension project in Century City were unveiled to the public on June 17. TBM’s are an essential part of the excavating process, burrowing through rock and sand to create tunnels. It’s a long- time mining tradition to give TBM’s a female name and to adorn them with local artwork from the community before they go underground. Metro invited students throughout Los Angeles County to participate in a contest to help them name the TBM’s and decide what artwork to display.


Ruby Santa Maria, a 6th grader from Turning Point School in Culver City, won the naming contest with an essay on her two selections: Harriet, named after Harriet Tubman, and Ruth, named after Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Santa Maria explains what inspired her to name one of the TBM’s Ruth. “She just so empowering and inspiring, and I thought it would be a really good choice.” Santa Maria continued. “And I sort of used a play on words for Harriet. Although hers wasn’t an actual underground railroad, it still delivered people to a destination just like the Metro does.”

In her winning essay, Santa Maria goes into more detail about the significance of Ruth and Harriet. “Both names will help unite the community, by helping you realize you’re not alone and will encourage you to make a new friend. If you see someone sitting along have the courage to talk to them and make them feel welcome just as these incredible women did for us.”

A 3rd grader from Beverly Hills was the second winner of Metro’s contest with his vision of Beverly Hills. His artwork, currently displayed on the TBM’s, will also make an appearance on future Transit Access Pass (TAP) cards for a limited time.

The $9.8 billion Purple Line extension project, which has created 20,000 jobs via Metro, aims to connect commuters from the Westside to Downtown LA by 2027- just in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics hosted by Los Angeles. Following the completion of the Purple Line, residents are expected to be able to travel from Century City to Downtown Los Angeles in only 25 minutes.