Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What about the Sunset Strip?

West of Vermont, Santa Monica Blvd. is sometimes seen in competition with Sunset Blvd. as a potential rail corridor.

Some affluent hipsters dream of taking Metrorail to the western Sunset Strip.

When traveling between UCLA and West Hollywood, the truth of the matter seems to be that there is just isn't much demand for public transit. The #2 Sunset Blvd. buses I ride are half-empty west of Fairfax. That is why there is a short line #2 terminating on its western end at Fairfax. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation ("LADOT") recently canceled its bus service on the Sunset Strip. Sunset Blvd. also doesn't even support an all-day limited bus, let alone a rapid bus.

When I attended the Metro community station planning meeting for the originally proposed Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills stations for the Westside Subway extension, I overheard one gentleman say, "It's too bad we couldn't also put a station somewhere on the Sunset Strip. We're not bus people". (This is a true story and my eyes rolled into the back of my head when I heard him say it.)

However, one commenter on a transit blog made the following suggestion for the northern extension of the Crenshaw Line to Hollywood via West Hollywood:

Why not have the "Rose Line" (Crenshaw/LAX Transit light-rail) head north on San Vicente all the way to Sunset, then head down Holloway back to Santa Monica Blvd. for stops at Santa Monica &Fairfax and Santa Monica & La Brea.

So the Rose Line would be tweaked to look like this:


In this scenario the stops between Hollywood/Highland and Wilshire/SanVicente would be the following:

Hollywood/Highland
LaBrea/SantaMonica
Fairfax/SantaMonica
Sunset Strip
SanVicente/SantaMonica
Beverly Center
SanVicente/Wilshire

Another possibility would be for the Crenshaw/LAX light rail to run north on San Vicente to Fairfax, then north on Fairfax to Sunset and then to Hollywood /Highland with a separate light rail project entirely using the unused right-of-way in Beverly Hills to connect Century City to Sunset Junction via Santa Monica Blvd. and then down Sunset to downtown.

In this scenario, the Rose Line would have stops at the following:

Hollywood/Highland
Sunset/Gardner
SantaMonica/Fairfax
Beverly/Fairfax
Wilshire/Fairfax

There would be a transfer at SantaMonica/Fairfax for an east-west light rail connecting Century City to Sunset Junction to downtown with stops at

Century City
Beverly Hills Civic Center
SantaMonica/SanVicente
SantaMoncia/Fairfax
SantaMonica/LaBrea
SantaMonica/Vine
SantaMonica/Western
SantaMonica/Normandie
SantaMonica/Vermont
SunsetJunction with stops further down Sunset to downtown

I'm a skeptic that both lines would get built or that Beverly Hills would agree to let that right-of-way be used.

Personally, I'd keep the SanVicente to SantaMonica to Hollywood alignment as proposed and serve the Sunset Strip with a modern streetcar. The affluent hipsters who won't ride the bus might actually ride that and the tourists would love it.

But I'm only one person and I put it out there for your consideration in fairness because the Sunset Strip question comes up every once in a while. But Sunset should not be used "instead" of Santa Monica Blvd. as the primary alignment because the ridership just doesn't support it.

5 comments:

Darrell said...

Any interest in heading west along Santa Monica Blvd. to where it turns southwest, but continue due east along Holloway to Sunset, then curve south along San Vicente?

Or would that lose an important station location along Santa Monica?

Dan Wentzel said...

Here were the stations proposed as part of the Westside Subway Extension between Hollywood/Highland and LaCienega/Wilshire:

SantaMonica/LaBrea
SantaMonica/Fairfax
SantaMonica/SanVicente
Beverly Center

If I understand what you are suggesting, Darrell, it sounds like you would add a stop between SantaMonica/Fairfax and SantaMonica/SanVicente by heading up Holloway to have a stop on the western Sunset Strip.

This would be simply adding a station to what was proposed before. There would not be a loss per say. I don't think a station up on the western strip in necessary as the transit ridership is pretty low on Sunset west of Fairfax. However, I am just one person with an opinion.

I doubt the added ridership from a wastern Sunset Strip station is worth that expense, but if it politically helps build the line, I'd take the deal.

ThomasD said...

I don't buy the idea of Light Rail or Streetcar on the Sunset Strip. Drivers like to see and be seen there.

The more I think about it, the more sense a Streetcar rather than Light Rail makes on the Santa Monica Blvd alignment you named. Lets remember three key points.

First, the Feds will not fund underground Light Rail from SMB-Fairfax to SMB-San Vincente nor down LaCienega Blvd to San Vincente. The ridership-cost ratios don't pencil out for that much tunneling coupled with tunneling to cross Wilshire Blvd, according to US Dept. of Transportation standards.

Second, parts of the SMB are so narrow the street has to be shared with autos. That makes SMB better suited for Streetcar which shares the route with autos.

Third, Streetcar would better support transit oriented development objectives from Fairfax to Vermont, while supporting tourism objectives west of Fairfax.

ThomasD said...

Continuing the Streetcar concept, it would be interesting to ALSO see a line extend south from SMB on LaCienega Blvd to San Vincente to Venice Blvd, then to Expo Line at National/Sony Pictures.

Given the two Streetcar lines would be anchored by Paramount, Fox and Sony Studios, who would get tremendous benefit, someone should approach them about kicking in several million $ each. They could have the duel benefit of naming rights like Staples Center with their Movie/TV ads plastered all over the Streetcars. Imagine publicity!

Dan Wentzel said...

"Any interest in heading west along Santa Monica Blvd. to where it turns southwest, but continue due east along Holloway to Sunset, then curve south along San Vicente? "

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I don't think it is necessary. I still prefer the idea of serving the western Sunset Strip via a streetcar. But I'm just one person.