Staff issues recommendations for Wilshire bus lane project

This map shows the various features of the bus lane project. Click above to see a larger image.

Metro’s planning staff have issued their recommendations for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project, which proposes to install rush hour bus lanes in the curb lane of 8.7 miles of Wilshire Boulevard, mostly in the city of Los Angeles.

Here’s the staff report. This is a project being built by Metro, the city of L.A. and Los Angeles County.

It will be up to the Metro Board of Directors to approve the staff recommendation, which is part of the project’s final environmental impact report. The Directors are scheduled to consider the project at the Planning & Programming Committee next Wednesday and to vote on accepting the staff proposal at the full board meeting on Dec. 9. Both the Los Angeles City Council and County Board of Supervisors will also have to approve the project.

A few details on what Metro planning staff are proposing:

•The bus lanes would be mostly in the curb lane of Wilshire and be operating on weekdays between the hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 and 7 p.m.

•The lanes would run between Wilshire & Centinela and Wilshire & South Park View, a distance of 8.7 miles. Private vehicles turning right can use the lanes. Conversely, buses will be allowed to use general purpose lanes to pass other buses.

•There would not be any bus lane in the portion of Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Metro staff says they didn’t have time to consult with the city before applying for federal funding for the project in 2007 but that the bus lane could be added there in the future.

•The parking lane and the curbside jut outs on Wilshire between Comstock and Malcolm in the Westwood area would be retained and not converted to a bus lane. This is being done because of neighborhood concerns over the loss of about 85 parking spaces on Wilshire and 40 trees that would have had to be removed. The furthest right of the general traffic lanes in this area — there are three in each direction — will be used for the bus lane.

•Although residents have requested that there be no bus lane between Selby Avenue and Comstock Avenue, Metro has decided the bus lane here is needed to reduce bus travel times and improve service reliability.

•The eastern end of the bus lane is at South Park View because east of there Wilshire narrows to two lanes in each direction with no median. Converting one of the lanes to a bus lane would only leave one general purpose lane — leaving no room for private vehicles to pass one another.

•Of the 74 intersections studied, the project would increase traffic delays at nine intersections near or along Wilshire, due in part to traffic signals being reworked to help move buses along Wilshire. Most of the delays are estimated at less than 15 seconds. The intersections impacted are Veteran & Sunset, Bundy & Wilshire, Veteran & Santa Monica, Westwood & Olympic, Westwood & Pico, Beverly Glen & Santa Monica, Fairfax & Wilshire, La Brea & Wilshire and Overland & Santa Monica.

•Staff estimates that 12 to 17 minutes will be shaved off the trip along the bus lanes and that up to 10 percent of motorists could shift to bus use in coming years. The bus lane, too, should help people using the future Westside Subway Extension reach destinations between rail stations more quickly. Wilshire is the busiest bus corridor in L.A. County.

•The project is estimated to cost an estimated $31 million with about $23 million coming from a “Very Small Starts” grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The project could be complete by mid-2012.

•The number of people using curb lanes in private vehicles at this time is at about 1,000 people an hour com compared 1,500 or so on Metro buses (although that includes the soon-to-be-eliminated 920 line). The bus lanes could increase that number to 1,800 an hour, according to Metro staff.

Here’s a previous post from June with more about the project.

11 replies

  1. Can Metro start the study on Pico, Venice, Sunset, Hollywood, Lincoln, Sepulveda, Westwood, La Cienega, Western, and Vermont bus lane too?

  2. Here’s hoping Beverly Hills and Santa Monica eventually agree to bus lanes themselves.

    While not an adequate substitute for our needed rail projects, transit-only lanes are a great supplement. After Wilshire, I’d put them on Santa Monica …Blvd., Hollywood Blvd., Fairfax, Pico, Vermont, Western, Venice and Ventura Blvds. — and that’s for starters! Several of these transit-only lanes could also run modern streetcars too.

  3. Great idea to add bus-only lanes, but removing blocks of sidewalk seems a bit counter-intuitive to promoting density and “car-lite” lifestyles in LA.

    And what about dedicated bike lanes? Sharrows? Has Metro studied the impact on cyclist safety this might have?

    If Wilshire is going to be the “spine” of LA’s transit network, I think bike/pedestrian enhancements are important.

  4. You can create two bike lanes in the width of one car lane. If an average of 1,000 cars travel in the curbside lane per hour, then it would only take 9 bicyclists per minute traveling in each bike lane to exceed the throughput of one car lane. It would take 15 bicyclists traveling in each of the two bike lanes per minutes to match the future capacity of the bus only lane.

    It looks like two bike lanes would have a much higher capacity to move people than either a car lane or a bus only lane.

    There is one street in Copenhagen that has a travel volume of bicyclists that exceeds 38,000 bikes per day. So having two bikes lanes on Wilshire Blvd that have a high volume of bicylists may not be such a far fetched idea.

  5. I’m glad to learn that this could be done by 2012 as a small step toward faster mobility in this traffic choked metropolis.

    I hope that Beverly Hills, given their recent idiotic stance against the Constellation station, will accommodate a near-future Wilshire bus lane.

  6. There is no metion of the additional delay of vehicle traffic in this report.

    The additional “15-second delay” at traffic lights is disingenuous.

    During the circa 2004-2005 Wilshire Bus Lan study, (which was the western-most segment in the current plan from Barrinton to Centinela) vehcile traffic doubled, while resulting in a 30-second improvement in bus travel time.

    “The number of people using curb lanes in private vehicles at this time is at about 1,000 people an hour com compared 1,500 or so on Metro buses (although that includes the soon-to-be-eliminated 920 line). The bus lanes could increase that number to 1,800 an hour, according to Metro staff”

    What this mean is that there are 1000 people in vehicles and 1500 in busses currently using the curb lane. This plan reduces that number to 1800 (at best). This adds about 700 additional vehicles to the other two lanes, which is at least a 30% increase in load on those remaining two lanes.

    I am all for dedictaed bus lanes, but only in cases where there is a new lane added. The current plan for the east0-bound segment from Centinela to Barrington is idiotic, at best.

    The results of the original test on that segment indicated that it does not make sense without added lanes.

    http://laist.com/2004/10/11/wilshire_bus_lane_is_commuters_bane.php

  7. […] The Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project would install bus lanes in the lane closest to the curb on either side of 8.7 miles of Wilshire Boulevard between South Park View and Centinela, with a gap where Wilshire passes through Beverly Hills. The project is expected to entice 10 percent of motorists to get out of their cars and into buses because travel times from end-to-end for buses would improve by about 15 minutes. Metro's blog, The Source, has more details. […]