A Revised Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was released today for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project.
The project seeks to add a peak hour bus lane in each direction, and other improvements to parts of Wilshire Boulevard in the city and county of Los Angeles from the Santa Monica-L.A. border to just west of downtown L.A.
In the Revised FEIR, the project recommended by Metro staff includes bus lanes for 7.7 miles of Wilshire from the Santa Monica/L.A. border to just east of Westwood Boulevard, from Comstock Avenue to the western border of Beverly Hills, and from San Vicente Boulevard to South Park View Street, just west of downtown. Metro planning officials say that the bus lanes would shave an average of 11 minutes off the time it takes buses to travel the length of the bus lane corridor, although drive times for autos along the corridor would increase by an average of six minutes.
The preferred alternative also excludes bus lanes along an one-mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard. The segment, between Selby and Comstock, is known as Condo Canyon for its many tall condo buildings. In that area, one of three regular traffic lanes would have been converted to a peak hour bus lane. Residents complained that would greatly harm traffic.
When the Metro Board of Directors first considered the FEIR in December, they responded by asking Metro staff to revise the project’s FEIR to evaluate the project without the Condo Canyon segment.
Metro is the lead agency on the project, but it also must be approved by the city of Los Angeles and the county of Los Angeles. In February, the L.A. City Council asked Metro to also evaluate the project without any bus lanes west of Beverly Hills because of resident concerns the bus lanes could harm traffic in the Brentwood area.
As a result, the Revised FEIR also studied the impacts of only having 5.4 miles of bus lanes east of Beverly Hills. However, the project benefits would not be as great as those with the 7.7 miles of bus lanes proposed with the preferred alternative. The longer length would serve more transit riders and do a better job of improving passenger travel times and service reliability during rush hour.
It will ultimately be up to the Metro Board of Directors and Los Angeles City Council to decide what parts of Wilshire are included in the project. The Board is scheduled to take up the issue at their May meeting.