Getting Closer to the Westside: Subway, Bus, Aerial, Nothing?
There are two more meetings left (one tonight, one on Monday) for the third round of public meetings with Metro regarding the Westside Extension, often noted as the "subway to the sea." At the last set of meetings, 17 alternatives were proposed which have been honed down to five alternatives being presented this week. What survived was underground heavy rail and one robust rapid bus system. What didn't was at grade trains and aerial transit.
In regards to elevated rail, Metro says they are not opposed to it (after all, Gold and Green lines use it), but they do not think it works well in the Wilshire and Santa Monica corridors. The carrying capacity is lower and its effects on pedestrians and the street scape are too overwhelming for it to be plausible to be built.
And in the end, the public response has been much on the side of the subway than anything else. Besides the rapid bus alternative (think on-street bus lanes, not an Orange Line busway), the four subway alternatives are as such:
- The classic Wilshire Blvd. straight shot to the sea with possible deviations in Century City and Westwood Village.
- A more topsy-turvy Wilshire Blvd. route that would hit such destinations as the Farmer's Market/Grove and Cedars Sinai. It could add more travel time and cost, but also increase ridership.
- All stand alone Santa Monica Blvd. routes were eliminated, but they were still kept it in the picture by combining it with the Wilshire route. One of the combined alternatives takes a transfer point at Hollywood/Highland heading down Santa Monica Blvd and maybe turning south on La Cienega or San Vicente, eventually catching up with the Wilshire alignment that drifts off Wilshire (above #2).
- The last combined alternative takes the classic Wilshire straight shot proposal and mixes it with the Santa Monica alignment.
After this set of community meetings, Metro will continue to work and evaluate the routes before presenting a recommendation to the Metro Board in the Fall. As for another community meeting? Expect to see one coming near the end of the summer, possibly by Labor Day.
It should be noted that Metro is required to consider a no-build or a transit system maintenance alternative (lots of buses).
Fun Facts: In March, Metro hit a record number of Red Line weekday average boardings at 144,000. That's the highest it has been since July of 2001, when it was around 147,000. The average weekday boardings for the 2006-07 fiscal year was 120,196.