Attentive readers know that Metro staff this week issued their recommended route for the Westside Subway Extension: basically a route that follows Wilshire Boulevard west, swings south to Century City and then back to Wilshire and ending at a station near the VA Hospital in Westwood.
Staff also said that the subway spur from Hollywood to Beverly Hills and through West Hollywood was not suitable for a heavy rail subway such as the current Metro Red and Purple Line. Why? It’s too pricey for the projected ridership. But they did write:
“While the DEIS/DEIR identifies that the West Hollywood line has very high potential as a transit corridor, further study is needed to determine if a more cost-effective transit alternative such as light rail subway may provide a project that would be more competitive under federal funding criteria.”
Enter Dan Wentzel, a transit activist who speculates what a light rail line may look like one day in that area (see the map) on his Pink Line blog. He even goes a step further and speculates on a line that goes south of Wilshire on San Vicente Boulevard, connecting to a future Crenshaw Line that would run north of Exposition Boulevard.
I think it’s a very interesting idea — there’s no certainly no shortage of people, businesses or traffic in the area. The Westside Subway Extension’s draft environmental study concludes that such a line could attract riders on par with Metro’s existing light rail lines. By the way, the phrase “light rail subway” used above is intended to mean light rail that could operate at street level or above or below ground.
As Dan notes, all this is very “far off” in the future. At this point, there is no funding to study, let alone build or operate either project. An expansion of both the Westside Subway Extension and the Crenshaw Line are in the “strategic unfunded” part of Metro’s long-range plan and both would need lot more definition before they could get funding (not to mention the fact that finding funding is no easy task).
As for the Westside Subway Extension, the ultimate deciders on what gets built this time around is the Metro Board of Directors, who are scheduled to consider the issue at their Oct. 28 meeting. West Hollywood officials have lobbied hard in the past couple of years for the subway to come through their city and the Board of Directors could choose to launch more studies of that corridor.