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The Metro that Wasn't

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With construction of the Metro Orange Line - the dedicated busway stretching from NoHo to WoW (that's West of Winnetka, folks) -- breezing along at a clip that'll see it finished by September, northern 'burbs like Pasadena and Glendale are itching something fierce for a transit corridor that can see passengers safely through their own burgeoning yuppie districts. It's a still-theoretical jaunt from Gold Line to Orange Line that many are calling the "missing link." While we at LAist reserve our own missing-link comparisons for extremely hairy 7-foot-plus gentlemen with sub-par linguistic skills, we clearly agree there is a need. But where, oh where, do Pasadena and Glendale put a rail line to North Hollywood, assuming the two cities can scrape together the funding for such a project without the help of their big brother to the South?

We remember the ill-fated extension of the 710 Freeway, long planned to careen - honks, rumbles and all - straight through the placid backyards of South Pasadena and up to the 210. It was one of the only federally-funded CalTrans projects ever to be thwarted by pitchfork-wielding local residents. Which leads many to worry that any similar extension of the northern light-rail will meet with disaster. After all, neighborhoods from Chinatown to Highland Park are still up in arms over the incessant ding-ding-dinging of the current Gold Line barricades. And since the only logical route for a Pasadena-NoHo line would be to circumvent the hills of Eagle Rock and run down either Colorado Blvd. or the 134, even our grandchildren will probably be too old and bitter to appreciate it once it's actually finished.

But though Los Angeles may never completely outgrow General Motors' 1926 wet dream of a totally compartmentalized, internal-combustion transit system, a growing cadre of armchair urban planners have taken to the web and - armed with professional-looking fantasy maps of transit routes they'd like to see - are playing SimCity with our fair metropolis with the kind of egalitarianism and wide-eyed optimism that no local denizen of a large city has enjoyed since ancient Athenians voted on where to park their chariots. So LAist asks you: Where would you like the next transit corridor to run? What would it take for you to leave the car at home, to take a train everywhere you needed to go? Because although we grew up imagining it would never happen here, the truth is Los Angeles is in the same place New York was c. 1890. Our density is reaching a point where growth will no longer be sustainable unless we can move more people, more directly, more quickly. Short of a bullet train that would turn Bakersfield into the next bedroom community, our development has pretty much reached and breached the maximum distance in time people are willing to commute on a daily basis. Assuming Moller doesn't perfect his skycar in the next ten years, we're building vertically from here on out. The Wilshire corridor is important, no doubt; but how many of us actually travel that route during rush hour? (So few, in fact, that Wilshire has become faster than Olympic in recent years, because most people are afraid to even touch it.) And will non-destitute Angelenos ever be willing to walk six blocks to a subway station, the way New Yorkers do?

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In any event, we're still idealists on this blog. And we think nothing could be better for the spirit of Los Angeles than for everyone to have their say about where the future will take us. Look: The MTA wasted hundreds of millions of our dollars building that ridiculous red line; the least we can do is to come up with a few ideas of our own.