A quarter-century after the destination was first approved by county transit planners, the San Fernando Valley is about to become the end of the line in the Los Angeles subway system. Beginning Saturday, high-speed underground Red Line trains will whisk passengers from new stations at North Hollywood, Universal City and Hollywood/Highland to downtown Los Angeles. Transfers make it possible to reach Long Beach and Los Angeles International Airport by rail (the latter with the help of a shuttle bus). The same day, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launches the Metro Rapid bus line from Warner Center to Universal City, in which buses gain a measure of control over traffic signals along Ventura Boulevard.
* Cost: $1.35 one-way. (It costs an extra quarter if you want a transfer to a bus or another train.) The discount rate for seniors and the disabled is 45 cents. A bag of 10 MTA tokens is $9 or 90 cents per one-way token. Tokens are sold at 750 outlets, including grocery stores, city offices, liquor stores and check- cashing outlets.
* Where to get them: Ticket machines are located just inside the station entrances with instructions in English, Spanish and Braille. The ticket machines take coins (no pennies), $1 or $5 bills (no $20 bills) and Metro tokens.
* Honor system: Unlike many subways, there's no turnstile or barrier. It's an honor system, but keep your ticket handy. Last year the Los Angeles Police Department cited 9,605 people on the Red Line for not having a ticket. Fines can be up to $250. And chronic fare beaters may face misdemeanor charges.
* No eating, drinking, smoking or playing loud music in the station or trains: Fines range up to $250.
* There are no restrooms at stations or on trains. (One exception: Union Station.) But the MTA is considering placing portable toilets outside stations next year.
* While waiting for a train, stand back from the platform edge, behind the boundary area. (It's a bubbled surface, designed to act as a Braille pavement for the blind.)
* Uniformed and undercover LAPD officers from the Transit Rail Division patrol stations and trains. Red Line crime stats for 1999: six robberies, 13 assaults/batteries, 31 thefts, two burglaries, 11 graffiti arrests.
* In case of emergencies, trains have intercoms and subway stations have alarms.
* Stations are equipped with smoke alarms, sprinkler systems (even pipes under the tracks that can spew 1,000 gallons of water per minute), fire extinguishers, fire hose outlets every 250 feet in the tunnels, emergency phones, emergency strobe lights and a high-decibel alarm. *
* Smile. Surveillance cameras are always watching. The MTA's Rail Operations Control monitors live video from surveillance cameras around the clock at each station.
* A bike permit is needed when bringing a bike onto the Metro rail system. Bikes are allowed at any time except weekdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. Bike permits are free.
* Cell phones and pagers won't work because you'll be at least 60 feet underground. At one spot (between the Hollywood/Highland and Universal City station, near Runyon Canyon) you're in a 900-foot-deep tunnel.
Sources: MTA; Kate Diamond, Siegel Diamond Associates; Virginia Tanzmann
Researched by RICHARD R. SANCHEZ, ROGER KUO and ANNETTE KONDO/Los Angeles Times