Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Miracle of Light Rail to Santa Monica and Other Transit News

Watching a city build a transit system is like watching the grass grow. Not much seems to be happening on any given day but things are happening nevertheless. In the case of Los Angeles, we have a decades long process which is distinguished by world class obstructionism, stupidity, failure, self-destructive behavior and progress.

For those of you just joining us, Los Angeles has been slowly building a light rail system to various communities in the greater Los Angeles area and much more slowly and expensively building an underground heavy rail system, e.g. a subway.  The latter, the so-called Red and Purple lines, have been notable for their dysfunctional politics at the local and national level.

But its no big deal. I mean, its not really important. Why should it be important?   Los Angeles claims its a major city, but every street has potholes, except in Beverly Hills, of course. The traffic, as predicted, collapsed into a puddle of congealed shit two decades ago, and the smog caused by the automobile, the Port of Los Angeles, and the refineries results in an air quality which damages the life of everyone who lives here.

But slowly but surely things are starting to improve, and remarkably we are about to achieve a transit milestone I did not believe I would ever see. The light rail from downtown, through USC, and ending in Culver City is in the final stages of being extended to 6 th Street in Santa Monica. This extension is not sometime in the far distant future (see below) but is actually nearing completion and will be in test within 12 months.

Now 12 months is a reasonable time frame.

Expo Line extension being built out to Santa Monica

Furthermore, another extension to the Expo line will turn left at Crenshaw, pass through some of the worst parts of town, but then arrive at a new LAX combined transit center (i.e. where the shuttle buses meet the train and the rental cars).  And this is scheduled for completion in four years or about 2019.

Now four years is a little longer than we might like, but is still in the foreseeable future. And at that point we will have a light rail system that serves downtown, Pasadena, Long Beach, USC, Culver City, Santa Monica, the airport and several other communities.

But lets give credit where credit is due.  I am proud to say that all through this, citizens of Santa Monica have done everything in their power to destroy the extension of the transit system. True to their values. Pure and unspoiled.   They will fight a transit system to their last day.   Yes, they are that .... oh I don't know..... how about selfish and fucked up?

It is 2015 already.  We are 15 years into the new century.  Traffic collapsed in Los Angeles, repeat that word, collapsed, over 20 years ago.  As we all knew it would.   That means the city became unlivable, not that the city was becoming unlivable.  No.  20 years ago (or so) it became unlivable.  To oppose something as simple as light rail to Santa Monica for any reason other than something really serious, such as it destroyed an important historical monument, for example, is more than merely weird, it is insane.  Light rail could only help.  Opposing it is not just a sortof bad idea, it is nutty-boy crazy

So much for the positive news, now lets talk about the weird expensive heavy rail system. It stops right where it ought to stop, naturally, and sensibly at Wilshire and Western. Oh. Yes, I suppose that is a stupid place for it to stop, but hey, that was only 20 years ago. They plan to extend it all the way down to La Cienega and Wilshire!  And they will have that done in a mere 8 years, or 2023.

I can barely catch my breathe!   Those animals!  So speedy!   And then to Century City and finally all the way to Westwood in a mere 20 years or roughly 2035.

Planned Westside Extensions to the Transit System

If heavy rail is so expensive and slow, maybe they should put in light rail in the interim?  It would be no trouble installing light rail on Wilshire Blvd because you could just shut down the street while you were building it.  I mean why not?   The traffic is already fucked.

This should all have been started in 1980 and completed by 2005, a mere 25 years.  But not Los Angeles, no.   No one would describe the people and government of Los Angeles as far sighted and progressive.

In case you wondered who was paying for this, it is not the people of Los Angeles.  As far as I can tell, it is the Federal government, at least for the Purple Line extension.

Still, it is amazing that a working system from downtown to Santa Monica is nearly there .... that in and of itself is a miracle.


Exposition Transit Corridor, Phase 2 to Santa Monica

Metro Breaks Ground on Purple Line Subway Extension

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