A closer look at jobs and population along Wilshire Boulevard

With the release this week of the Wilshire bus lane project’s final environmental impact report, I thought it would be timely to look more closely at the job and population numbers along the corridor.

After all, it’s fair to wonder about who may be served by this project, along with the Westside Subway Extension that will be built largely along Wilshire.

I used the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics OnTheMap tool and the Center for Transit Oriented Development’s TOD Database to determine several things.

First, roughly eight percent of the jobs in Los Angeles County and almost three percent of the county’s population live within half a mile of an existing 720 line Rapid Bus stop on Wilshire between downtown and Santa Monica. The graphs below break down jobs and population data by station (with a few exceptions; the stops at 26th, Barrington and Beverly Glen are missing; also, it appears that jobs data at the VA and the Federal Building are also omitted).

Population within half-mile of existing 720 stops. Data source: Center for Transit Oriented Development's TOD Database, drawing upon 2000 Census data.

Total jobs within half-mile of a 720 stop. Data source: Center for Transit Oriented Development's TOD Database, U.S. Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics, 2008.

There aren’t any major surprises, except for one. The data bears out that jobs are plentiful in downtown L.A., Westwood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, and that lots of people live in MacArthur Park and Koreatown.

A 3-D view from Google Earth of the number of jobs downtown. Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics OnTheMap, 2008.

A 3-D view of the total number of jobs, by Census block group, in Westwood and Beverly Hills. Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics OnTheMap, 2008.

But I was surprised to see that just 11,000 people live within half a mile of the bus stop in Westwood. Then again, the major residential density pockets in Westwood — the northwest corner of the UCLA campus (aka The Hill) and the adjacent North Westwood Village neighborhood — is more than half a mile away.

You too can delve into the job numbers by Census Block group along the Wilshire Corridor by clicking on the various blue dots in the map below:
View Larger Map

16 replies

  1. Very interesting. First thing that jumps out at me is how dumb it is not to put a Purple Line stop at Crenshaw (not to disregard the importance of the bus line project).

    The population within a half mile of Crenshaw and Wilshire is greater than Fairfax, La Cienega, La Brea, and Westwood, just to name a few- all of which are getting a stop.

    The point of the line is to give people the option of not using their cars, which means that for it to work, it can’t just move people from job center to job center– it also has to move them from where they live to where they work.

    So shortsighted.

  2. @TPN – one caveat — the Westwood number is so low because the densest part of Westwood — the North Westwood Village neighborhood and the Hill at UCLA — are over 0.5 mile away. And we know that people will walk, probably up to a mile, to reach quality transit provided the built environment is hospitable.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Yes, Crenshaw has some residential density. But how many of those residents want to ride the subway? Judging from the public meetings, not many.

    That location has several other strikes against it as well. It has few jobs (less than any other stop) and other destinations (like restaurants or shopping). And that is not likely to change, since development is severely restricted by neighborhood ordinances. It is close to Western (less than a mile.) And finally, Crenshaw dead-ends here, making it bad for transfers.

    It’s good they left out Crenshaw. This will make for a more efficient line.

  4. I second the comment about the Crenshaw stop.

    Besides having a large number of people who live within a half mile radius, it has thousands of people transferring from the 210 bus to the Wilshire bus every day.

    Here is Metros own ridership numbers. See page 14

    http://www.metro.net/projects_studies/westside/images/Draft_EIS_EIR/Chapter%201/Chapter%201%20Purpose%20and%20Need.pdf

    That location is busier than any other stop west of Fairfax (with the exception of Westwood). Very foolish of Metro. This would be a heavily used stop.

  5. Yet more proof that getting rid of the 920 is silly. The populations and jobs are at the ends of the 920 line.

    The 920 is standing-room-only in the mornings (westbound), it isn’t unusual for the bus driver to simply close the doors with people waiting because the bus is totally full.

  6. The poor numbers at Bonsall (the VA) just illustrate the poor decision to have this as a station on the Westside Extension. Barrington blows it out of the water, yet no stop there.

  7. The jobs/residential figures for Wilshire/Bonsall (future site of Westwood/VA station) for are as bad as Crenshaw. Maybe even worse. I don’t see how Metro expects to get the high ridership they have modeled for that station. Maybe transfers?

    I have asked Metro staff how specifically the VA station is going to work, but staff has offered no details. Will there be a massive parking structure next to the station? A major bus station? Will Wilshire be reconfigured near the station? Will there be a pedestrian tunnel or path leading to Brentwood (Wilshire/San Vicente)?

  8. This is very interesting and helpful. The population figures may be a bit understated, since there’s been a lot of housing built along the Wilshire corridor since 2000, especially in Downtown LA and Downtown Santa Monica. The jobs figures may be a bit overstated, but should be less so, since they come from 2008.

    One stop people may tend to overlook is Witmer, the only one which ranks in the top five for both jobs and population.

    I’ve got no opinion about whether there should be a subway station at Crenshaw. I’d note that if you combine population and jobs, Crenshaw comes out 19th out of the 21 stops where data is available for both.

  9. I look forward to the FEIR for the Westside Extension and how it will address the VA station.

    Unless more than about 5k people work at the VA (which can’t be true), Bonsall (VA) is still last when adding residents and jobs among all these stations. I agree with Joel, an underground pedestrian connection to Wilshire/Federal is probably the only way to make this work. Otherwise the numbers just don’t pencil out

  10. Joel, I live in Brentwood and have also voiced my concern to the MTA about the current station alignment west of the 405. I would love to hear MTA’s explanation of how a station at the VA Hospital would be viable. I’m not opposed to a station at the VA per se, but to have stations at the VA and Bundy is possibly the worst possible manner of serving Brentwood efficiently. Without question, there should be a stop at Barrington, where the highest density in residential and offices is located/will be located. I am hoping the MTA will see the light between now and when the line actually comes to fruition.

    • Kedar,

      I can’t say with 100% certainty, but my recollection is that about 200,000 people live within a half-mile of Wilshire Blvd. I haven’t seen anything on the jobs in that specific area, other than that the Wilshire corridor is the densest concentration of jobs in LA County.

      Carter Rubin
      Writer, The Source