Group uses ad to push for subway to Santa Monica

Part of LA Neighbors United's ad in the L.A. Times today promoting a subway line to downtown Santa Monica. Click above for a larger image.

Print readers of the Los Angeles Times saw something unusual in their morning paper today: a full-page ad imploring the Metro Board of Directors to vote on Thursday for a route that would take the Westside Subway Extension all the way to downtown Santa Monica. The ad was purchased by a group called LA Neighbors United.

The group’s website describes itself as “a loosely knit organization of individuals and groups concerned about a variety of community issues. LA Neighbors United helps ensure citizens’ views are heard and respected by policymakers.” The group was also featured in this recent LA Business Journal story about a dispute over changes to the city of Los Angeles’ planning code.

Attentive readers already know that the Metro Board is scheduled to vote at their meeting on Thursday (9 a.m. at Metro headquarters in downtown L.A.) on a route for the subway extension project and to also launch a final environmental study for the line. The Metro planning staff has recommended to the Board a route that would take the subway from its current Purple Line terminus at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to a station near the VA Hospital in Westwood, mostly via Wilshire Boulevard.

Here’s a brief Q&A on the subject:

Why is the subway only going to Westwood?

The short explanation comes down to one word: “money.”

Between expected federal funding and Measure R sales tax dollars, Metro only has the funds at this time to build the subway to Westwood. Extending the subway all the way to downtown Santa Monica and adding a line between Hollywood and Beverly Hills via West Hollywood were also studied to see how much they would cost and how they would perform.

How did they perform?

Click above to see a larger image.

Actually, pretty well by federal standards — but not quite well enough to meet the criteria for federal funding of the project. Generally speaking, the issue is that both lines would certainly attract riders, but not enough to justify the cost of a subway, which is far more expensive than, say, street-level light rail or a busway. The chart at right shows the ridership projections.

And after the jump is a page from the subway’s draft environmental study comparing the different alternatives on a variety of measures.

How much would it cost to build those other alternatives?

In 2009 dollars — it will cost more when the subway is actually built — here are the costs:

Alt 1 (Wilshire/Western to Westwood/UCLA): $4.036 billion.

Alt 2 (Wilshire/Western to Westwood/VA Hospital): $4.358 billion.

Alt 3 (Wilshire/Western to 4th/Wilshire in Santa Monica): $6.116 billion.

Alt 4: (Wilshire/Western to Westwood plus WeHo line): $6.985 billion.

Alt 5: (Wilshire/Western to Santa Monica plus WeHo line): $8.747 billion.

Does this mean that a subway to Santa Monica or through West Hollywood will never be built?

No. But a lot of funding is going to have to be found to do so.

And at this point, that money is tied up in other Measure R transit projects, including the Expo Line to Santa Monica. A Wilshire subway in Santa Monica and the Expo Line — running down Colorado Boulevard — would only be one-half mile apart.

Related: An earlier Source post on all the staff recommendations for the Westside subway project.

Click above for a larger image.

18 replies

  1. Metro Board, you MUST vote for alt #3. I will only be restating what others have already said, but it’s imperative to finish what was started so long ago. Another disingenuous subway to … Westwood won’t change the car dynamic enough to make the subway a success. Why spend 4.2 billion for half a line when you can spend the 25% more and get the whole thing? How can you justify, even in monetary terms, leaving out the city, the sea, to which this whole subway was based on. Alternative #3 is the only way to go!
    Please don’t let the city of Los Angeles down.

    Few things bring LA together besides the Lakers, the completed subway to the Santa Monica is one of them. VOTE FOR ALTERNATIVE #3 !!!


  2. Just so none of this shouting is giving false hope to the City of Santa Monica, the chances of the Metro Board voting for alternative 3 tomorrow at the meeting are more or less zero. Money does not grow on trees, or appear out of thin air. Every single dollar of Alternative 2 already has an identified source, whereas none of the additional money that would be needed for alternative 3 does, and no amount of saying “Please vote for Alternative 3!” is going to change that by tomorrow. So don’t get your hopes up.

    But, like I said above, don’t give up hope either. Nobody is saying that the extension to the sea shouldn’t be built when the money comes in. And please please please, do not discount the Expo line! Providing direct service between Downtown, USC, and the Promenade is going to dramatically alter access to your city. Get excited for it!


  3. Many people genuinely want the subway to go to Santa Monica, whether or not it has funding.

    However, based on other anti-urban, pro-road statements made by this organization, I suspect the group’s true motive is to kill the subway project altogether. They are using the “Build it right or don’t build it at all” language, where “right” is not feasible. This leaves “don’t build it at all”.

    For now, focus on Alternative 2. When the money becomes available, build the Santa Monica segment.


  4. the Expo line will be great. But the subway and the Expo will travel two completely different paths: North of the 10 and South of the 10. They might as well be two different worlds – and the two shall never meet. And the subway would make the trip FAR faster than the Expo line. There will be many more “places of interest” on the subway. Culver City will be a great stop for restaurants and nightlife for the Expo line. But what else is there between Culver and USC? Even USC has far less to offer than Westwood for non-students or football fans. Expo will be nice. Subway will be awesome.


  5. Most cities have only one line coming to or through them if any train at all,for all the money it would take to have two lines in santa monica does’nt seem sensible,when there are many cities a rail line does’nt even come close to.


  6. Santa Monica is a jobs center (Water Garden, Yahoo Center, Google, RAND, Bergamont, etc, etc.. People need to get to the jobs. People don’t want to drive to Santa Monica anymore b/c the traffic is terrible. Where do the people live who work in Santa Monica? The Westside along Wilshire. Not along the Expo line. Many, many more people will take the Subway to work in Santa Monica (if it’s ever built) than the Expo line.


  7. The Expo line ought to have turned and gone southwest down Venice Boulevard all the way to the waterfront. Now, the subway will not extend as far as it needs to.

    Not having a station on the south side of Wilshire at Sawtelle would be so representative of the idiotic way that things get done in L.A.

    UCLA is a major concentration of urban activity considering the numbers of students, staff and faculty, plus visitors. And so the idiots would have a station way south on Wilshire Boulevard. All of those highrises along Wilshire do not begin to compare with the daily population up on campus.


  8. I was living in Shanghai in ’95 when they opened the 1st subway segment of a few miles. This year, they are surpassing NYC in distance. Where’s our vision? BUILD THE SUBWAY ALL THE WAY TO SANTA MONICA!!! Is the US finished?