L.A. City Council panel pushes Wilshire bus lane issue to full Council

The Metro Board of Directors last month approved a 7.7-mile Wilshire peak hour bus lane project on portions of Wilshire within the city of Los Angeles.

The City Council’s Transportation Committee discussed the issue for more than two hours this afternoon and split three ways: two Council members (Richard Alarcon and Bernard Parks) backed 8.7 miles of bus lanes, two backed the 7.7-mile option (Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge) and one (Bill Rosendahl) supported the 5.4-mile option that would have the bus lanes only east of Beverly Hills.

It will ultimately be up to the full 15-member City Council to decide which option the city will support. A discussion and vote is expected to be scheduled soon. (Here’s the project website).

Time is of the essence: Metro, the city of Los Angeles and the County Board of Supervisors have to agree on a Wilshire bus lane project to submit to the Federal Transit Administration within the next several weeks in order to qualify for a $23-million grant to help construct the lanes, rebuild parts of the street and make improvements to traffic signals. The entire project carries an estimated cost of $31.5 million.

As for today’s discussion in Council, many issues were in play that I expect will be talked about more by the full Council. Among them:

•Concerns that the bus lanes on Wilshire between Centinela and the 405 freeway will further hinder an already bad traffic situation. This is an issue that particularly impacts Rosendahl, as this stretch is within his 11th Council district.

•Councilman Bernard Parks raised the issue of equity — that the reason so many car commuters and bus commuters are traveling to the Westside is the lack of affordable housing there. For that reason, he said he believes all communities should bear some of the transportation burden of helping people reach their jobs, including the Condo Canyon stretch in Westwood not included in the 7.7-mile option.

•Among the several dozen members of the public who testified to the committee, there were many views expressed. Some (including a contingent from the Bus Riders Union) said that bus speeds along Wilshire are far too slow and they are having difficulty reaching jobs in a timely fashion.

•On the other hand, many people who live along Wilshire west of the 405 said that a one-mile demonstration bus lane that was in effect several years ago made congestion in the area even worse and they worry the new peak hour lanes — even with a portion of Wilshire being widened to accommodate them — will have the same impact.

6 replies

  1. What this reporter fails to mention is that a vast majority of Bus Rider Union members testified in support of the 7.7 mile Alternate A1 option which excludes a 1 mile stretch of residential and church properties with 56 driveways on Wilshire between Comstock and Selby. Why do they support this alternative? Because will will move the project to funding, creating jobs and improving bus travel. Unfortunately it was quite clear that Parks and Alarcon (who spend considerable time on his cell phone) were not up to speed with the facts of the project. They grandstanded and made statements that made absolutely no sense or were basically misinformed. Being on the Transportation Committee should mean you get prepared before you are asked to vote on something so important. The reason Metro had no problem eliminating the 1 mile Westwood segment is because buses already go at top speed there and would only reduce their time by 6 seconds in that stretch. Alarcon and Parks may very well doom the whole project with their short sighted view.

    • Hey Jerome;

      We’re waiting to hear — could be as soon as next week. You should come down for the vote. The committee hearing only took 2+ hours!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Parks and Alcaron should have realized that we had to forego Condo Canyon and voted for the 7.7 mile route. Now that they held “proud” to supporting the 8.7 mile route…the City Council basically did nothing. Just accept the fact that 7.7 miles is what we can get…if we get a held in a stalemate, we may end up with nothing!

  3. “Concerns that the bus lanes on Wilshire between Centinela and the 405 freeway will further hinder an already bad traffic situation.”
    The traffic is bad BECAUSE there is no fast or efficient transportation there… the concept of watering down transit on the basis of bad traffic is the reason that that west side is in the gridlocked state its in. Better transit encourages patronage and slows or halts the growth of traffic. This speaks to a larger issue of transit planning and logistics in los angeles overall.