Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Westside Mass Transit Dream


Isn't this beautiful?


This is my Westside Mass Transit Dream.

I was inspired by the Westside Transit Corridor Extension Project public briefing meetings held last week. There are still two more for you to attend:

• Tuesday, August 11, Beverly Hills Public Library, 444 N. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills
• Wednesday, August 12,
Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles

What we see here is existing Metro Rail on the Red and Purple Lines plus the completion of the Exposition Line.

In addition, we see completion of the Westside Subway Extension Project extended all five phases:

1) Extend Purple Line from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/Fairfax;
2) Extend Purple Line to Century City;
3) Extend Purple Line to West L.A.;
4) Connect Hollywood/Highland and Purple Line through Santa Monica Blvd. (The "Pink" Line);
5) Extend Purple/"Pink" Lines to Santa Monica

The new map of Alternative 11 of the Westside Subway Extension presented at last week's public briefing contained two "new" fingers added to a possible northern extension of the proposed Crenshaw Light Rail Line. The previous maps only contained a possible light-rail leg to LaBrea & Wilshire. The new "fingers" at Fairfax/Wilshire and SanVicente/Wilshire seem to indicate that Metro wants a northern extension of the Crenshaw Line to head west of LaBrea. Most Southern California transit advocates see the Hollywood/Highland station as the ultimate northern terminus of the Crenshaw Line.

In thinking about this as to what I would select, I ruled out the SanVicente "finger" because there is no Purple Line stop there and I am sure Metro will want Crenshaw Line riders to be able to transfer to the Purple Line. I ruled out LaBrea because even though it would be cheapest and more direct for the Crenshaw Line to head straight up LaBrea, it would leave out numerous ridership opportunities such as the Grove and a stop on the Sunset strip. Since I see the Pink Line already serving the Beverly Center, therefore I opted for Fairfax/Wilshire for a transfer station with the Crenshaw Line. This would allow service at the Grove, West Hollywood, and it includes a Sunset Strip stop around Sunset/Gardener. I think the added ridership of the Fairfax alignment justifies it over the less expensive cost of the LaBrea alignment of the northern extension of the Crenshaw Line. If Metro heartbreakingly decides it cannot go forward with Santa Monica Blvd. subway alignment (Phase 4) because of funding, then heading to Fairfax/Wilshire instead of LaBrea/Wilshire becomes even more imperative.

What is so delicious about a Fairfax alignment is that Fairfax was originally the planned northern route of the Red Line from Wilshire towards Hollywood before NIMBYs and anti-rail idiots sabotaged the building of the Red Line. (Just think. If it wasn't for the NIMBYs and misguided organizations like the so-called Bus Riders "Union" we might already be riding a completed Purple Line.) It would be beautiful karma to see a Fairfax alignment rise from the ashes.

In Measure R, there is a Sepulveda Pass transit project connecting the Valley from the Westside. I envision for the health of a region an alternative to the parking lot that is the 405 Freeway with a Sepulveda based line moving north from LAX and the Green Line up to the Exposition Line, the Purple/"Pink" Lines, and into the Valley connecting with Ventura Blvd, the Orange Line, Van Nuys Metrolink Station and ultimately Sylmar Metrolink station.

What an amazing system this would be if this were all constructed and operating.

Now that I've showed you my dream for the Westside, and I am sure you all have your own transit dream, let me admit to some stone cold reality.

There is no funding identified for most of this -- and funding is what will determine whether a transit line gets built, and that is assuming you[ve gotten past the inumerable NIMBYs and competing interest gauntlets pulling at Metro to come to a heavy or light rail line preferred alignment proposal that Metro and the Community is strongly enough supporting.

What transportation capital funding there is will go towards constructing the transit lines and segments with the highest ridership. As passionate as I am about Phase 4 of the Westside Subway Extension Project, the Santa Monica Blvd. subway, I fully realize that Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the Westside Subway Extension (Wilshire plus Century City) and the super crucial downtown Regional Connector, come first, and then there are all the worthy competing Los Angeles County projects out there (i.e. finishing the Expo Line, extending the Green Line to LAX, upgrading the Orange Line to light rail, TWO Gold Line extensions, Crewnshaw Line, a Sepulveda Line, etc.)

Also, don't forget the need to maintain a comprehensive and robust bus system and the desire of automotive diehards to expand roads.

In fact, there is no shortage of need and desire, but not an abundance of transportation money for public transit.

The good news is that there has been a sea change of opinion within Southern California. Only the willfully delusional still believe that Los Angeles can preserve a car-only transportation system forever. In fact, the 67% vote in favor of Measure R demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles County knows better. $4.00/gallon gasoline and ever-worsening congestion beat a lot of people into reasonableness. We need alternatives. However, Measure R won't pay for all of my dream or your dream or anyone's dream. The State Budget is a basket case for the forseable future and if the State ever gets out of financial crisis, it really needs to put its transportation focus on transit operation (not capital) funds and seeing the needed High Speed Rail project into manifestation.

So, if you like my transit dream or have a dream of your own for the Westside or anywhere else in Los Angeles County and Southern California, you will need Federal dollars. Please join a transit advocacy organization such as Southern California Transit Association or The Transit Coalition (but not the misguided Bus Riders "Union"). Please write your member of the House of Representatives and our state's two U.S. Senators. Please write your County Supervisor and your city mayors and councillors and ask them all to support mass transit not just in words, but financially too.

Any transit dream without adequate funding is just a fantasy. So let's start advocating for transit dollars to start turning some of these dreams (many of which are absolute necessities for our economic and environmental future) into reality.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will be shocked if they name this one the pink line, after all the hullaballoo over the "Aqua Line."

David said...

It's a great dream, Dan. I hope to take my grandkids on the subway to the sea. (I'm 28.)

Seriously, I really do hope that the pink line gets integrated into the expansion of the purple line. And I like the direction L.A. is going in regarding rail, especially with the passage of measure R.

I hear very little about the sepulveda-pass project. Having commuted that corridor for about 4 years, it seems like the kind of corridor that would justify subway, and I can't imagine there being enough money for that, as it seems like it would basically be an additional red-line project. Still, I would love a subway that connects from the Galleria to UCLA. I think a light-rail along the 405 (sepulveda is far too winding) would work as well, something like the green-line, and would probably be a lot cheaper.

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reshma M said...
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