Is there a Pink Line in the way off future?

The Pink Line blog took a Metro map and added a suggested route for a future transit line. Source: The Pink Line blog.

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.

22 replies

  1. Thank you very much for mentioning my blog.

    As I’ve been stating, while it is very disappointing this corridor was not included as part of the Westside Subway Extension, it is encouraging that Metro’s recommendations include mention of this viability as a transit corridor.

    There are basically three general classes of ideas for transit advocates to now turn to who wish to see Metrorail in some form in this corridor in the future:

    (1) Continue to try and look for funding for a heavy rail project that will also have to fund a transfer structure to join with the Purple Line. With Metro paying off Measure R for 30 years this is a pretty unlikely option. I’d recommend refocusing our energies to Option 2.

    (2) The silver lining in Metro’s recommendations states that West Hollywood has “high potential” as a transit corridor and specifically mentioned the possibility of a less expensive “light-rail subway”.

    The most likely LRT scenario is this corridor serving with San Vicente Blvd. as a northern extension Crenshaw Line. This would be trading a one-seat ride to/from the beach for a one-seat ride to/from LAX — no small trade. The “Pink Line” would become the northern extension of the “Rose Line”. There is no funding identified for a northern extension of the Crenshaw line at this time, but as a crosstown route, it would serve a regional interest and may attract regional support.

    Other light rail possibilities include extending this “Pink Line” LRT core east from LaBrea/SantaMonica to Sunset Junction and down Sunset to downtown or extending it south down LaCienega to Venice and then towards Venice Beach and/or LAX.

    (3) The third possibility is a modern streetcar running in a transit-only lane, possibly connected with Sunset Blvd. east of Sunset Junction and with the ununsed Beverly Hills right-of-way just gathering weeds. This could be built fairly “quickly” in transit construction years with a coordinated effort. However, it would require giving up a lane of traffic/parking in each direction. I’m happy to do that, but I suspect some motorists and store owners would object. It would also necessitate running substitute buses on gay pride parade weekend and Sunset Junction weekend, or relocating those events elsewhere, but that can be worked out later.

    Before any future Metrorail in this corridor happens, HRT, LRT or modern streetcar, Metro needs to agree to keep studying this corridor. Please attend the next Board meeting and let them know you wish to keep studying this corridor for a future project.

  2. I can’t help but think Metro is playing a game of chicken with Beverly Hills and West Hollywood to see if they will pitch in to pay for part or all of the money needed to build the pink line.

  3. Please please please don’t call it the Pink Line. Please stop using color designations. The remaining colors such as Aqua or Pink sound silly and make the Metro love bad. Metro has a large rail network now and has reached the point that color designations are not appropriate. Other large systems such as Tokyo and New York do not use colors for the names of their lines. They use names or letters. Please stop using these silly color designations.

    Thank you.

  4. Greetings,
    During some of the meetings for the Crenshaw line in the South Bay, it was made pretty clear by the Metro staff that this line would be the north-south route linking the Red, Purple, Expo and Green lines in the future…replacing the old San Vicente Red Car that was the main route to West Hollywood in the old days.

  5. I totally agree with the idea, the pink should be a light rail, which it may connect from the Hollywood/Highland station, to the future Crenshaw/Exposition terminal, via San Vicente Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard, north of Exposition Boulevard. If this reality exist, then it would pass through some popular places like Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the Miricle Mile district. Let’s hope it becomes a reality one day.

  6. Yes, the name “Pink Line” is a joke, even if it will take a rainbow coalition to get it built! The colors are running out and Metro should start using names for future lines. The London Underground has names that are descriptive (Circle), commemorative (Victoria, as in Queen), or imaginative (Bakerloo, for the tube line connecting Baker Street with Waterloo Station). As a British immigrant to LA, I can’t look at the Metro map without missing the extensive rail network I used to ride in London. Dream on, California!

  7. It’s really pathetic how politics can prevent vitally important projects from happening… and Los Angeles is sooo behind the rest of the world as far as mass transit. MTA is proud of its “Wilshire subway extension” (Wow! several more miles! Don’t we deserve a medal!) while third world countries are building entire subway lines (!), i.e. offering dozens (if not hundreds) of miles of freshly laid rail tracks. I do admire what other countries are able to create, while LA continues to drag behind.
    The only thing left for us to do is suffocate in our own traffic gridlock and being “proud” of one tiny extension, which will barely solve anything…

  8. agree w/tornadoes28, sorry to say.

    i also agree that some pretty hardcore activism will be needed to get the board to fund the study for the corridor from crenshaw, through mid-city (including the fairfax district) and on to weho. while it is true that – at least till now – transit lines from outlying areas to bring commuters in made sense, what i think is ignored is the fact in the densest area – the sea to dtla, and the 105 to the hills – is the area where folks would be the most willing to abandon the use of cars altogether and walk and take transit (and no, that doesn’t mean sitting on a bus in traffic).

    so dan, i support your activism to push hard on metro get the corridor studied and put into the long range plan.

  9. If this is going to be connected to the Crenshaw Line somehow, please don’t make the same mistake that was made during the planning sessions for the West Hollywood subway …. deciding to leave out a Farmers Market stop.

    For the Weho Line, they ended up being worried about too many curves and additional cost endangering the feasibility of the spur. However Crenshaw is several blocks to the east of the Beverly Center area anyway, so the line HAS to travel northwest from Crenshaw to get there …. so instead of wasting the trackage through a desolate stretch of San Vicente, it should go down Beverly connecting Beverly Center with the Farmers Market/Grove area. It’s too big an employment and entertainment center to ignore, and it also could revitalize the Fairfax Village area, which is begging for more pedestrian activity.

  10. I usually find myself agreeing with Metro analysis, but my gut tells me there could actually be a huge demand for service connecting the Westside & Hollywood. I think light rail may be shortsighted, and could be overcrowded too soon.

    Ideally, we’d have a Pink Line subway and some way would be found to add a stop (on the Red Line) directly at the Hollywood Bowl (perhaps at the interior side of the Bowl, if that’s closer to the existing Red Line. The existing shuttle system from H&H is an absolute shameful joke right now. (Shuttles stop to the Bowl far too early, leaving people stranded & H&H, and coming back they’re crowded to 3rd world conditions and it can take 30 minutes to get back to H&H. The existing rail connection “solution” is an absolute abject failure, frankly, IMHO.) Existing park & ride buses from across LA County are better, but still get utterly stuck in traffic.

    Yes, adding a Hollywood Bowl stop (if even possible geographically) would probably be insanely expensive to do after-the-fact. But I’d venture that ridership would also be insanely high. Let’s not forget the Hollywood Bowl is the nation’s largest outdoor amphitheater, with a capacity of ~18,000 people. And then you have the Ford nearby, too. Surface streets are insane — 1 hour from Beverly Hills to a Hollywood Bowl concert at night (vs. 15 minutes if there’s no traffic.)

    We’ve got to have a rail link for residents & workers in Santa Monica, Westwood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood residents, etc., to get to the Bowl quickly.

    Not to mention all the Westsiders going clubbing in Hollywood.

    Not to mention residents of the Valley — which would be the sixth largest city in the USA if it were its own city — having a way to get to Santa Monica beaches quickly by rail. (Sure, we need the Sepulveda corridor line, too, but leveraging the Red Line from North Hollywood is is possible, too.)

    I certainly understand not including the “Pink Line” right now given the funding issues. But we need to find a way to make this happen as a region.

  11. Dan, option C would revitalize the old Silver Line route that was in discussion almost a decade ago. It went from Sunset Junction to El Monte via Downtown (I pulled the website awhile back, but have been mulling putting it back in a modified form). It had popular support in some communities, particularly Lincoln Heights, El Monte, and also in Echo Park because it would include a Dodger Stadium stop, hopefully giving people another option to get there without enduring that horrendous gridlock.

    Just a couple of notes on this Weho spur … I actually presented this idea to Weho City Council members around 2001, and I also detailed the idea on the transit message boards at around that time. Other transit advocates at the time called it a pipe dream, but I knew the area is ready for urban rail, and it would be highly popular there. It’s a pedestrian paradise just waiting to happen.

    However, the moniker “pink line” is highly polarizing and would avoid it if possible … it brings in a whole political element into the discussion which has nothing to do with mass transit. Intentional or not, naming a line after what people perceive to be a particular demographic (race, religion, orientation, etc.) can cause people to come out against the project for the wrong reasons. That’s also why we don’t have a “black line” or “brown line” on the Metro Rail system.

  12. I’m sorry, I don’t agree with any light rail substitution plan for this route. One of the key reasons the ridership projections don’t pan out is Metro’s refusal to integrate the (potential) Pink line’s service into Hollywood/Highland in their selected route.

    Imagine a one-seat service from the North Hollywood Red line stop through to Wilshire/Westwood and beyond. The Pink line route should be part of the heavy rail network, which should serve roughly a triangle:

    Red: Union Station – North Hollywood
    Purple: Union Station – Wilshire/Westwood and points west
    Pink: North Hollywood – Wilshire/Westwood and points west

    Metro should be thinking ahead and planning a network instead of just trying to get as much distance as they can with their projected budget.

    If Metro doesn’t want to build the Pink line now, fine. Let’s see if money can be raised in the future for it. However, what Metro should do as part of the Purple line plan is to build a 2-level station like Wilshire/Vermont at Wilshire/La Cienega so there is the potential for a Pink/Purple transfer and interline station.

    As for the Crenshaw line, as far as I’m concerned, it should bend from Expo/Crenshaw and serve Wilshire/La Brea. Afterwards, it should be punched straight under La Brea and terminate in or adjacent to Hollywood/Highland. Metro should be planning a 7th/Metro Center style station at Wilshire/La Brea to be ready for this transfer.

    If I were the city of West Hollywood, I’d be lobbying hard to include the transfer points I’ve mentioned into the Purple Line route. I would also push for a modification of Hollywood/Highland station to support all the Red/Pink/Crenshaw routes regardless of the present ability to fund the Pink line. If it has to be a seperately funded project, then so be it.

    Once the stub ends of the Pink line route are provided, then it’s easier to lobby for funding and completion.

    Put the pieces in place now to serve the route in the future. This one line at a time thinking is wasteful.

  13. A rail link between Hollywood/Highland and the Wilshire subway is vital. There is tremendous density along the Northern edge of Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Many jobs, apartments, entertainment and tourist destinations. I think Metro has underestimated the ridership in this corridor, and they should consider building this line as part of the Westside expansion.

  14. Calling it the “Pink Line” foolishly conflates a possibly good idea with West Hollywood politics. And it dooms the concept politically.

  15. I agree with Jeff. Light Rail is NOT the answer for the West Hollywood extension. It may be expensive to alter Hollywood and Highland, but do we pinch pennies or get it right? Heavy Rail is the only option that makes sense. A large population of people live in the valley and work in Hollywood/West Hollywood areas as well as Santa Monica. A one seat ride would put ridership sky high.

  16. For those who do not like the name the “Pink Line”, I agree with those who state that Metro should move away from naming these lines after colors and move towards using letters and/or numbers like every other world class metropolitan rail system.

    Even the London naming system would be preferable. (The Muir Line, Sherman Line, Warren Line, Bradley Line, Chavez Line, etc.)

    But I’d go with letters for now and leaving the numbers to the bus system.

  17. I think finally Metro IS actually planning a network, instead of piecemeal projects. They weren’t doing that 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, but they are now, ever since Measure R was passed and the latest Long-Range Transportation Plan was released.

    Unfortunately, even with that, resources are limited. That’s why The Subway to the Sea is now the Subway to the VA Hospital Then Take The Bus The Rest of The Way.

    Other projects like the Regional Connector have to take precedence because they will have more usefulness.

    But a West Hollywood line is a good idea due to the density and urban character of the area.

    At the very least, a “bus bridge” connecting the Purple line and Hollywood/Highland station should be put in place, with frequencies the same as the Red and Purple lines. This could be done so cheaply that someone other than Metro could run it, like LADOT or The City of West Hollywood. Plenty of time to get this planned and implemented since the Purple Line won’t be running until 2020 at the earliest.

  18. If the “Pink Line” won’t be an extension of the Red Line subway and may be light rail instead, can’t the MTA just add a northern extension of the Crenshaw line to link up with at the Hollywood/Highland as a “Pink Line”. Look at the map – Both “Pink” and Crenshaw lines look like they should connect between the Red Line and the Expo Line. It would create a nice circular belt in some of the most crowded and busy areas of the city. It would also be a nice southern line from the Valley and Hollywood to LAX and beyond.

  19. I’d like to see the “pink” line start in Century City, follow Santa Monica Blvd to LACC where it could connect to the Red Line. It should continue down hyperion, through the park and down Glendale/Brand Blvd into the heart of Glendale, where a line connecting the Valley and Pasadena would one day intersect. I’d also like to see the Crenshaw line extended north on Crenshaw, left on Venice, right on La Brea, connect with the Pink line @ Santa Monica/La Brea, and then it should cross to meet Hollywood/Highland.

  20. I’m seriously getting annoyed by people critizing L.A.’s metro system. Yes, it’s a shame that the streetcars were removed by 1961 but let’s not forget that the first light rail line (blue line) was completed in 1990. Doing the math, that means are metro system is 20 years old. It’s completely insane to compare it to New York, London, or even San Francisco! Now, I agree that money from taxes has probably not been managed properly but I feel confident that in the future our metro system will be adequate. Let’s be realistic angelenos: this is not a city built for mass transit. But metro is trying to give everyone options and at today’s current cost, (purple line exceeding 4 billion), we all need to relax and be happy that any kind of rail extension is greatly appreciated.

  21. Anything less than a subway is a total fail.

    Switzerland just built a 35 mile tunnel through a mountain in the Alps. 35 miles!!

    Why do we have to struggle so hard for this?