The Subway to UCLA
October 28, 2010 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Despite an exploding department store that resulted in nearly two decades of Federal tunneling bans, non-existent local funding, and the tenaciousness of Beverly Hills residents, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has selected a route for the Purple Line Subway Extension.

Originally known as the "Subway to the Sea", the Subway to Westwood will now extend from the Koreatown neighborhood to just past the 405 freeway at the Veterans Administration hospital.

The funding issue was resolved by the 2/3rd majority voter-approved Measure R of 2008, which implemented a 0.5% sales tax within Los Angeles County. Without additional Federal support, Metro expects to have the subway completed by 2039. However, the Mayor of Los Angeles has created the 30/10 initiative, a proposal to borrow all of the funding within 10 years and pay it back from the collected Measure R tax revenue over the original 30 year time frame.

Other alternatives included a line that extended all the way to Santa Monica and a West Hollywood Spur. However, as these were not included in the Measure R package, they now lay dormant waiting for future funds.
posted by hwyengr (34 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Woohoo! This was something I longed for when I first landed in Westwood. Now if only those NUMBY (not underneath my backyard) assholes in Beverly Hills would STFU. Apparently they think they are the first city to have a subway tunnel underneath residential areas?

And let's give Henry Waxman the credit he deserves for derailing the westside subway for 20 years thus making westside traffic some of the the assiest in Los Angeles! And making my attempts at a social life complicated when I first moved to LA and lived in west LA without a car and hadn't worked up the courage to head east on my bike.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:59 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

OMG this is awesome. Imagining not having to drive across Hollywood every day.... *swoon*
posted by carsonb at 5:01 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah I can't wait until 2039, when I'll be able to take the subway from the VA hospital to Koreatown without having to use my flying car.
posted by psp200 at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]

I was talking with someone who attended one of the public hearings in BH. She said a resident spoke up, "We're not NIMBYs, we just don't want this thing in our back yards."

Which was then followed by someone saying that extra security should be put in the stations to catch the people who rob houses in Beverly Hills and carry the loot back on the train.
posted by hwyengr at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2010 [13 favorites]

It's a step in the right direction, but I'm with psp200 on this one. 2039? Really? Kinda reminds me of when we passed that initiative for a high-speed train from SoCal to the Bay Area. I think they're expecting that to be finished in 2060 or so.

I lived in Phoenix from about 1981 until 1999 and since I've left they've built an entirely new freeway, a whole new cross-town metro rail, and god knows how many new roads and neighborhoods. Yet, in that same time, the construction on I-5 here in SoCal doesn't appear to have made any progress whatsoever.

Is California THAT broke? Or, rather, has CA BEEN that broke for THAT long?
posted by revmitcz at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wake me up when there's actually a useful north-south line. The "Ray Bradbury Monorail Express" running above Lincoln / Sepulveda all the way down to Long Beach sounds just about right.
posted by mark242 at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2010

In my business, we call them BANANAs. Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.
posted by Xoebe at 5:15 PM on October 28, 2010 [12 favorites]

Honestly, this is enough to make me consider moving back to Los Angeles. It is about damned time.
posted by something something at 5:21 PM on October 28, 2010

I forgot to mention that if 30/10 flies, they could open the whole thing by 2022. Still a ways off, but building subways through oil fields ain't fast.
posted by hwyengr at 5:26 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just hope they lock the funding AND THE CONTRACTS in place now, so the project can't be killed by a thrifty politician twenty years down the line (*cough* Hudson River tunnel *cough*).
posted by subdee at 5:30 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

LA has a subway?
posted by SirOmega at 5:33 PM on October 28, 2010

LA has a subway?

Yep. According to wikipedia its daily ridership is 148k people, making it the 9th busiest and on par with Washington Metro. Of course, a lot more people live in LA than DC.

It is kinda stealth though, I don't actually know anything about where it really is despite going to LA all the time. (well OK I'm looking at it now, but until this post I never really bothered)
posted by wildcrdj at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2010

9th busiest in the US, I mean.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2010

This just reminds me that they opened the Orange Line two months after I was laid off from a job one block from the East Pasadena station. Humbug.

BTW, the reference in the Steely Dan song "Bad Sneakers" to "That fearsome excavation/On Magnolia Boulevard" and "That ditch out in the valley/That they're digging just for me"... I have long wondered if that was the construction of the north end of the Red Line, or was the song written too early for that?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:42 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

LA Metro map. Hint: red and purple are subway. Gold, blue and green are light rail. Orange and silver are rapid bus lines.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:47 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

I should add that the purple stub is what Waxman had cut short and Beverly Hills wants to run only underneath major streets even if that means a stop location that is not centrally located in Century City.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:51 PM on October 28, 2010

I've done that route from Wilshire/Western area to Santa Monica on surface street buses a bunch of times. It takes like 2 hours in traffic. On the express route. It's fucking ridiculous. All day long buses are packed to the rafters. It's a good mix of demographics, too, and all kinds of income classes. There's obviously already a huge built in ridership for that route.

If there was ever a city that needed rapid transit rail sewn through every nook and cranny it's LA.

Oh, wait. It had one. And it was once one of the largest, longest systems in the world. Then they replaced it with freeways.
posted by loquacious at 5:53 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

the danger of Methane Gas Explosions will always be on my mind after the subway is completed and open.
posted by tustinrick at 5:58 PM on October 28, 2010

There's a subway that goes from downtown-abouts up to Hollywood. I used to take it between Burbank (Universal City) and downtown LA regularly. That line extends to North Hollywood (nowhere near Hollywood), where you take an express bus further into the Valley.

As much as I like the idea of a Subway to the Sea, there are two glaring holes in the subway system I'd like to see remedied first: Subway to Dodger Stadium, and Subway to LAX. I am so jealous of every single city that has a train that will take you to the airport. I'll take the Subway to the West Side though, since that's what they're offering.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2010

I so desperately wanted the "option 3" that went all the way to the ocean.. not least because it put a stop two blocks from where I live. Which would be... just fucking awesome.

But I'll take a stop that's biking distance. I'd REALLY like to stop driving so much.
posted by flaterik at 6:30 PM on October 28, 2010

Which was then followed by someone saying that extra security should be put in the stations to catch the people who rob houses in Beverly Hills and carry the loot back on the train.

Wow, I appreciate their honesty about why they don't want decent public transit in their part of town. Who cares if their help has to take the bus for an hour or two just to get to work?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:41 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

The LA subway got me to the Hollywood Serenity premiere, so it'll always be awesome to me. Having spent almost all my money on a cheap last minute plane ticket (Which involved 2 transfers each way, including flights in and out of Houston just as Rita was hitting, and a turboprop on the way back. Never ever want to ride in a turboprop again.), I couldn't really afford a taxi or super shuttle. So I looked up the route at home and went on the 2 hour trek from LAX to Universal City via a shuttle to the Green Line, then transfers to the Blue and Red lines. Totally worth it.
posted by kmz at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2010

I found it was usually quicker bicycling than taking the bus in LA.
posted by wcfields at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Still can't get to the airport.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:39 PM on October 28, 2010

Yeah, the bus system in LA is atrocious. There are far too many stops. There's almost literally one on every block, and it seems like it stops at every one. I lived in the south part of Silver Lake and commuted downtown. It was faster to walk the mile and take the red line than take the bus that picked me up 2 blocks away.

Also, I don't think the old Red Cars or LARR were the solution to the problem. LA fell in love with its cars before it fell out of love with transit. And since the streetcars still had to cross intersections at-grade, the increasing traffic congestion just killed the travel times, which just pushed more people into cars.
posted by hwyengr at 7:50 PM on October 28, 2010

IIRC the Green Line completion to LAX is part of both Measure R and the 30/10 plan, but they are ironing out Purple and the Expo Line phase II before tackling that.

I say yay to anything that improves transit in LA, i voted for Measure R. Even though I mostly ride a motorcycle and therefore am almost immune to traffic.

And why there is no train running along the 405 from way up the Valley down to LB is just an incomprehensible mystery to me. If there's anywhere on the world that screams "8 car rail every five minutes from 6am to 9pm" louder than that stretch, I'm glad I live nowhere near it.
posted by zoogleplex at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2010

2039 isn't that far off, it's taken almost 100 years for the Second Ave Line.
posted by Marky at 9:34 PM on October 28, 2010

I used to take it between Burbank (Universal City) and downtown LA regularly.

Burbank is a separate city a few miles east of the Universal City station. Burbank doesn't have any subway stops.
posted by sideshow at 10:05 PM on October 28, 2010

I visited Los Angeles in 2007 - sans car - and was actually impressed by the subway & bus system. I got around to various parts of the city pretty easily. Granted it was far from perfect. There's no public transit to Dodgers Stadium, for example, so I may have been the first person in history to walk to a Dodgers game. I also took a bus from Santa Monica to downtown that was dreadfully slow. But then again, I've had some of the same problems in transit-friendly cities like New York, Washington, and Boston.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:55 AM on October 29, 2010

Now if they could only fix the dumbass transfer system, so that we can be like every other goddamn subway in America and not have to buy a different ticket for each train. Also, zones? What the fuck? No one understands them.
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 AM on October 29, 2010

Hear, hear, klangklangston, transfers are stupid and the TAP card system is also utterly ridiculous. It would be relatively simple to have TAP set up to be usable on any LA area transit mode, but apparently the various balkanized bits of it don't want to cooperate with each other. The fact that you can't just load a TAP card with any amount of money and use it on any bus or train until you have to fill it up again is beyond appalling.

Rarebit, I agree - Metro is a surprisingly much better than many would guess. You can get around pretty well with it to many places in LA, if somewhat slowly on buses.

The biggest deficiencies are evident in going from Downtown/Hollywood/East to the West Side and Santa Monica, (which is why we want a "Subway to the Sea"), the 405 corridor, and the lack of direct connection to LAX. The Flyaway buses help the latter (I usually ride the Union Station Flyaway) but it's kind of a kludge.

It has definitely gotten a lot easier lately to find a place to live that's close to a transit stop - there's been quite a bit of densified development around the Metro and more is planned - so that's a plus.

One of my major clients is only about 200 yards from one of the Expo Phase I stations, so I'm looking forward to being able to ride Metro to them when I work on site.
posted by zoogleplex at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2010

I don't understand why we can't build things anymore even if the funding is there. If you don't have the money, sure, I get it. But even once the money is there it seems to take forever and a half to do anything. Shit, it's almost 2011 and there's still most of a gaping hole in lower Manhattan, some of the most valuable real estate on the planet.

The Empire State Building is still a monument to human engineering. It was the tallest building in the world for what, 30 years? 40 years? And it took barely a year from breaking ground to open-for-business. One year! From excavation to people inhabiting it!

2039? Give me a break.
posted by Justinian at 2:32 PM on October 29, 2010

Burbank is a separate city a few miles east of the Universal City station. Burbank doesn't have any subway stops.

Should have clarified - yes, no stops in Burbank. But when I used to live in Burbank, the quick jaunt to the Universal City stop was the easiest way to get to downtown LA. (And Hollywood, for that matter.) If you've ever lived adjacent to the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, then you know how everything between it, Toluca Lake and Universal Studios is kind of one contiguous community.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:52 PM on October 29, 2010

Well, public and well-known projects have more problems than random ones. You can build an office building/skyscraper in a fairly short amount of time --- but not on Ground Zero, where politics intervene. If you're just a private company / person / organization building on land you own / lease, things still get done quick (you decide what you want, then you hire someone to build it). It's politics (where everyone wants to have a say, no 2 people agree, etc) that cause the issues.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:54 PM on October 29, 2010

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