In 1963 the remaining lines of the Los Angeles Railway, then operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority (LACMTA) closed the remaining five streetcar lines (J, P, R, S and V). In the following years, many highways and streets became overly congested with vehicle traffic, and the 1973 oil crisis led to increased public support for electric rail transit's return. In 1980 a prop was approved to build 150 miles of light rail and construction started in 1985.
In 1989 the LACMTA, now rebranded as Metro, commissioned Nippon Sharyo of Japan to construct 54 modern LRVs. On July 14, 1990, Metro Rail’s Blue Line opened. Construction of the Green Line started in 1987 and was proposed to be fully autonomous. The rail unions opposed being fully autonomous so the operator only controls the doors and announcements much like BART. Metro looked to Nippon Sharyo again to build 15 P-2020 cars for the automated system. Built at 1.17 million each the P-2020 was identical to the P-865 but had the needed automated controls. These P-2020 LRVs ran exclusively on the Green Line until 2000 when newer P-2000 cars built by Siemens replaced them. All of the P-2020s were then transferred to the Blue Line.
The cars have been lightly modified throughout their long service life, with the addition of an upper headlight, electric horns (the original air horn is disconnected but remains on most cars), automated PA systems, new pantographs, LED lights, electronic route signs, and an onboard CCTV and digital recording system. Paint schemes have been updated twice from the original white, red, and blue to a white and gold, and finally to a handful of variations of gray and yellow. The P-865 were phased out by September 2018 and replaced by a large order of P-3010s built by the Kinki Sharyo. The P-2020 cars continued service until April 23, 2021.
Cars 100 and 144 have been saved for preservation. Car 100 was repainted to its original colors by Metro and is now on display at Long Beach and car 144 was sent to the Southern California Railway Museum. The last P-2020 car 164 was promised to the trade school but they eventually dropped out from acquiring the 164.
In April 2023, 164 was donated to the Western Railway Museum.