FTA gives go ahead to remove Condo Canyon stretch from Wilshire bus lane project

The Federal Transit Administration on Thursday gave approval to Metro to remove a nearly one-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard from the Wilshire bus lane project without jeopardizing a federal grant for the project.

The decision whether to keep a bus lane on that part of Wilshire — between Comstock and Selby avenues in Westwood — will be up to the Metro Board of Directors. They are scheduled to take up the issue at their Dec. 9 meeting when the Board also must approve the project’s final environmental impact report.

Most of the 8.7 miles of rush hour bus lanes on Wilshire will be in the parking lane. But in this stretch of Wilshire, Metro staff recommended keeping the parking lane and the curbside jut-outs that have trees and grass. As a result, the bus lane was to go in the righthand general traffic lane — of which there are three in both directions in this part of Wilshire.

Residents complained that would make it difficult to exit and enter driveways to their buildings and could also pose a safety problem while backing up traffic on Wilshire. The Board of Directors’ planning committee agreed and asked Metro staff if eliminating the bus lane in this stretch of Wilshire would threaten a $23-million grant for the project from the FTA, which is about three-fourths of the bus lanes’ $31.5-million cost.

Here’s the letter that Metro sent to the FTA.

11 replies

  1. How many more times do we have to bend over backwards to the personal automobile? People are still going to complain about traffic, traffic, traffic, and wonder why we cannot have efficient transit in the westside….

  2. This just opens the door for Metro’s Board to approve the project without this section. It’s not a done deal but certainly makes it politically expedient.

    The reason Metro went back to FTA to ask for exemption is because almost all the comments during DEIR phase was AGAINST bus lane at Condo Canyon. Transit supporters fell asleep on this one and no one show up at the subsequent meetings to speak out in favor of bus lane in Condo Canyon like we did with Century City subway station placement.

    But transit supporters still have time to flood Metro’s Board with their support for full implementation of this project. If past Metro Board decisions are any guide, the volume of comments is what counts. All you need is to put a 2 or 3 sentence comment supporting bus lane between Comstock and Selby avenues in Westwood.

    http://www.metro.net/projects/wilshire/wilshire-comment-form/

    Wilshirebrt@metro.net

  3. Do these residents realize that by denying the bus-only lane, they’ll have to share their lanes with buses?

    They didn’t think their position through.

  4. As sent via email:

    Honorable Metro Board Member,

    I support the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project in its entirety. This project will provide congestion relief for transit riders from all over the region. Excluding the portion of Wilshire between Comstock and Selby will cause more congestion for myself and other bus riders who create minimal traffic and environmental impacts as we travel around the county. It will also set a dangerous precedent for future projects which have regional mobility and sustainability benefits. I urge you to vote yes on Alternative A.

    The project will have multiple public benefits including decreased travel times, improved air quality, increased mobility for transit and bicycle riders, and decreased transit operating costs. Excluding one segment of the line would reduce these benefits markedly with little gain in vehicular mobility in return.

    The single greatest issue holding down bus ridership in the corridor (and citywide) is travel time. If a bus must sit in traffic with private vehicles, then it is physically impossible to provide a time-competitive service. Bus lanes around the world have made bus transit time-competitive with or faster than travel by private car, causing bus ridership to multiply in these corridors. A bus sitting in traffic is idle capacity, which increases the number of buses (and operators) required to effectively serve a corridor and thereby increases transit operating costs.

    The Wilshire corridor is the most heavily used bus corridor in the nation. The buses already running on Wilshire 24/7 have a higher person-carrying capacity than the private vehicles that use the right lane. This project would further increase the total person-carrying capacity of the Wilshire corridor while decreasing Metro operating costs. Simply put, if this corridor does not merit a complete, uninterrupted bus lane, then no road does. Removing the one-mile (or longer) segment from the project sets a terrible precedent that wealthy or politically-connected neighborhoods with the resources to pay for their own (favorable) traffic analysis can opt out of citywide infrastructure improvements. This analysis does not reflect current conditions on the route, as evidenced by videos and other documentation of the traffic in the disputed segment, and does not account for future growth in traffic volumes. If the segment is not included at this time, it would be all but impossible to install a bus lane there in the more congested future.

    The Wilshire bus lane pilot project should be a model for what transit improvements are possible on a limited budget. Just as the original Metro Rapid program began here, we should be using this project to demonstrate treatments possible in other congested corridors. Removing over one mile of bus lane from the pilot program will undermine its effectiveness and reduce its applicability to other challenging corridors.

    For the reasons listed above and many others, removing the Comstock to Selby segment from the Wilshire Bus-Only Lane would be bad public policy–bad for travel time, bad for reliability, bad for air quality, bad for bicycle access, and bad for transit operation costs. Just a few months ago with the Board’s selection of the routes for the Purple Line extension and Regional Connector projects, the Board gave us a glimpse of a transit-oriented future. Reducing the effectiveness of the Wilshire BRT project is a return to the status quo of prioritizing private vehicles over everyone else. Alternative A is the only alternative that builds on the successes of Measure R and 30/10 to improve much-needed transit on the Westside.

    Sincerely,
    Eric B

  5. Just wrote my email. Thank you Eric B, for the starting point.

    Lets keep those emails coming everyone!

  6. The very simple truth is that a bus only lane in an area where buses travel at speed limit will do nothing to improve bus transit speed, while creating traffic jams which do not currently exist.
    If you were to measure the speed at which buses travel would you do so 1) at a place where they are actually moving, or 2) from one red light to the next, and include onload/offload time and red light wait time in the calculation? Metro has chosen to use method 2)It makes their calculations look great, but this measurement method doesn’t pass the smell test of reasonable people.The privately funded traffic study alluded to uses method 1) and concludes that no improvement in bus transit time would result fom a bus only lane in this 1 mile stretch, and that worsening of non bus travel time would result.
    So, noses up in the air, everyone!

  7. The issue with this is that it does not do enough. This is the fault of LADOT which is hurting our surface transit by not allowing full signal priority or preemption for transit vehicles throughout most of LA. They are more concerned about cross traffic than the building and maintaining of efficient transit and encouraging less auto dependency. Until this issue is addressed and fixed, the buses and some sections of the light rail lines will not be able to operate as efficiently and quickly as they could and therefore not gain the ridership that they could.