A Figure from Metro’s Advanced Alternatives Screening Study illustrating the differences in jobs and population in walking distance to stations by alignment.
If Metro picks the La Brea alignment, none of the destinations above would be served and the only station in WeHo would be along the eastern edge at Santa Monica/La Brea, far from the main activity centers in the area. the only other new station between the Purple and Red Lines would be at La Brea/Beverly where adjacent businesses aren’t very transit supportive (two gas stations, a rental car lot, and a single-story strip mall). The project might be less expensive and a few minutes faster from end-to-end, but at the expense of missed destinations.
If Metro picks the Fairfax alignment, some of the additional connectivity and job centers along Fairfax Avenue would be served, but key destinations like Cedars-Sinai (the 6th largest employer in the County), the Beverly Center, and most of WeHo would still be left out.
What about travel time?
You might hear that the longer Hybrid route increases travel time from end to end. That’s true, but let’s put that in perspective. Picking Fairfax over La Brea would add 3 minutes to an end-to-end trip. Picking the Hybrid would add another 4-5 minutes. Even with that extra time, Crenshaw North will still be significantly faster than driving and much faster than existing buses stuck in traffic. Factor in the time it takes to find parking in WeHo and Central LA and there’s just no comparison. Imagine a trip from Hollywood to Cedars-Sinai. By car you might do that in 14-35 minutes depending on traffic plus however long it takes you to find parking. On existing buses that’s more like 30-45 minutes. With Crenshaw North and the Hybrid alignment? 8 minutes. Every time.
It’s not just about regional trips!
For transit to be competitive in our region it needs to serve more than just long regional trips and commutes to and from work (though the Hybrid would serve those well too!). The additional stations included in the Hybrid alignment would allow for all kinds of mid-day, weekend, and local trips within this area for errands or leisure. Imagine getting from the heart of West Hollywood to La Brea in just 4 minutes, to Hollywood in 6 minutes, or to the Grove in 4 minutes. With event venues like the Hollywood Bowl, tourist hot spots like the Grove and LACMA, and nightlife hotspots like West Hollywood’s Rainbow District and the Sunset Strip, there’s a whole new category of tourism and late-night trips that could be served by transit if we choose the Hybrid alignment. None of these off-peak trips are captured well in Metro’s ridership modeling so we can expect the Hybrid alignment to exceed current ridership estimates.
Why not build two lines?
You might hear the argument that West Hollywood or Santa Monica Blvd. should be a separate line or spur rather than part of Crenshaw North. While that might make sense in a perfect world with unlimited funding and political will for transit, that’s not realistic in the environment we live in. Measure M (the ½ cent sales tax funding our region’s transit expansion) has projects waiting in line for funding into the 2060’s and 2070’s and any attempt to add new projects in this area before then would be met with stiff opposition from the rest of the region which already eyes the various projects built and/or in development in the Westside and Central LA with suspicion. Even if it could be funded, a spur would be inefficient to operate and unlikely to be extended West due to seismic faults and a less enthusiastic jurisdiction in Beverly Hills. Add to that the fact that Crenshaw North itself was originally scheduled for 2047 and is only moving forward now because of efforts to find additional local funds led by the City of West Hollywood. WeHo is unlikely to contribute funds for the La Brea alignment because it would mean a single station on the edge of the City at considerable expense. Joint Development of Metro’s Division 7 site at San Vicente/Santa Monica could be another source of funds but it’s not likely to be in play if La Brea is selected.
The choice here isn’t between one line or two. It’s between a slightly longer and more expensive route that would hit all the major destinations in Mid City and WeHo that we could fund and build in our lifetime and the possibility of nothing until 2047 (or later) and maybe another line decades after that.
Let’s get it right the first time. Let’s pick the Hybrid. And let’s #FinishTheLine!
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For more information on the project and the City of West Hollywood’s efforts to deliver this project sooner visit weho.org/rail.