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LA Metro Has A Plan To Get You From The Valley To The Westside In 15 Minutes

A passenger waits for Metro Rail subway trains during rush hour June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles. (David McNew/Getty Images)
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The narrow Sepulveda Pass between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside of Los Angeles has always been difficult to traverse. Now, L.A. County's transit agency has a plan to make it a little easier with a rail connection that would let riders avoid the infamous 405 Freeway, potentially cutting people's commutes from upwards of an hour to 15 minutes.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is holding three meetings over the next week to present updates to the planning process and gather feedback on options for study: three versions of a heavy rail subway, like the Red or Purple Lines, and a proposed monorail.

Image courtesy of Metro

All of the options Metro is pursuing for study do include a station on the UCLA campus, in addition to the station connecting to the future Purple Line subway at Westwood and Wilshire Boulevard, about a mile from campus. This would make it possible to take rail directly onto campus on the Sepulveda Line and with a transfer from the Purple Line.

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Metro had previously explored options for a light rail line, like the Expo or Gold Lines, which could then connect seamlessly to another light rail line Metro is developing to run up and down Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley by 2028.

But further study found the demand for the full corridor would be too high to be accommodated by light rail, which has lower capacity than a heavy subway rail.

Metro also eliminated the possibility of simply extending the Purple Line subway beyond its current planned end point at the Westwood Veterans Administration into the San Fernando Valley, because the route would have lower ridership.

Metro has estimated the potential ridership and travel times between the Van Nuys Metrolink station and the Expo Line in West L.A. for the four options it is studying. HRT, below, stands for Heavy Rail Transit, or subway, while MRT stands for Monorail Transit.

Image courtesy of Metro

The different options for the subway include slightly different routes and station connections, as well as differences in whether the tracks would be all underground or partially elevated. Building underground avoids tension over property rights or environmental impacts at the surface but is much more expensive.

The transit project has been allocated about $10 billion combined in Measures R and M, two voter-approved sales tax increases to fund transportation. Metro doesn't yet have estimated budgets for the proposed alignments, but even $10 billion doesn't go far when tunneling through geologically complex mountainsides.

The current timeline would have Metro finishing the project around 2033, though the agency has identified it as a priority to finish for the 2028 Olympics. For that to happen, Metro would need an infusion of extra cash, either in the form of a grant or a private partnership that could help speed things up.

Metro's Office of Extraordinary Innovation is reviewing proposals for private partnerships, but none could be finalized until the project has gone through a full environmental review process, which is expected to start in 2020 and could take years.

There are also plans to expand the line from Westwood to LAX, but there's currently no budget to do so until 2048 with a potential completion ten years later.

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Metro will give full details on all of the proposed options at public meetings over the next week:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, 6-8 p.m.
    Westwood Presbyterian Church
    Hoffman Hall
    10822 Wilshire Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90024
  • Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
    Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
    6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
    Van Nuys, CA 91401
  • Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, 6-8 p.m.
    Proud Bird Restaurant
    Aviator Room
    11022 Aviation Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90045

Metro also produced a video that presents an overview of the project, which includes testimonials from Angelenos with horrifying commutes who would welcome a public transit option to make life easier.