Groundbreaking for the remainder of the Wilshire Boulevard peak hour bus lanes held this morning

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LeBonge, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Deputy CEO Paul Taylor, Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioner Matt Szabo, Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering Interim City Engineer Doborah Weintraub and Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri at the groundbreaking for Wilshire BRT lanes. Photo: Paul Gonzalez/Metro

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LeBonge, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Deputy CEO Paul Taylor, Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioner Matt Szabo, Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering Interim City Engineer Doborah Weintraub and Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Jon Kirk Mukri at the groundbreaking for Wilshire BRT lanes. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Although the project was approved by Metro and the Los Angeles City Council in spring of 2011, ground was broken Wednesday on the remainder of the Wilshire Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes. The first 1.8 miles of bus only lanes opened last June between South Park View and Western Avenue; the city of L.A. has been working on design and such since ’11.

The Wilshire Boulevard BRT is a $31.5-million project that will ultimately add 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes to the portions of Wilshire Boulevard between Valencia Street (west of downtown Los Angeles) to Centinela Avenue in Santa Monica. By early 2015, there will be 9.9 miles of street, signal and signage improvements along with 7.7 miles of the bus lanes.

Only transit buses will be allowed in the lanes between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., with exceptions in some places for vehicles making right-hand turns. 

Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown during peak hours. There are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of them occurring during rush hours. On average, peak hours bus commutes from Valencia Street to Centinela Avenue are 52 minutes in the morning and 64 minutes in the afternoon. The BRT lanes will hopefully reduce commute times by 24 percent.

One thing to consider: the Purple Line Extension will one day mostly follow Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood. At that point, the subway becomes a much better and faster choice for any kind of long-distance travel on Wilshire. Buses would help fill the gaps between the subway stations and serve also as first-mile/last-mile options for riders trying to reach rail stations.

Here’s the project map that shows the improvements that have been and will be made:

wbrt-with-text-bubbles_2013-02-08-1

13 replies

  1. How will the rush hour bus only lanes be enforced? The part of the lane that runs through K-town is already finished as far as I know and I see many drivers ignoring the giant painted “Bus Only” signs on the pavement.

    Maybe cameras on buses that automatically generate the tickets, a la red light cameras? More revenue for the city and less cars ruining the bus lanes…sounds like a win-win to me. And who knows, maybe the city could generate so much revenue from these that they could stop writing ass-backwards jaywalking tickets when we’re trying to encourage walking?

  2. Anna, do you know how much the sidewalks will be shrunk near Sepulveda? Would like to know personally, since I walk there and it’s already a mess.

    • Hi Neal,

      I’ll work on getting this information for you, but unfortunately there is indeed a lot happening in that area. Besides the work LADOT will be doing for the BRT lanes, there’s 405 work and other L.A. County street improvements on Sepulveda.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  3. Why it’s costing 31.5 million dollars to post some signs and paint white lines in the street is beyond me. And for those who are not familiar with the Wilshire Corridor, this concept was tried several years ago on Wilshire between Centinella and San Vicente Bl. in West Los Angeles.

  4. It’s a great idea in theory, but as someone who travels down Wilshire quite often I feel that the BRT lanes fall short. If you spend any degree of time riding the bus along this street during the hours that the lanes are supposed to be used by buses only you will find that the lanes are so clogged that it makes it really hard for buses to travel with any kind of fluidity on them. When cars are making right turns they jam up the lanes forcing the bus operators to either sit and wait for a real long time, or go around which can be dangerous with so many people in their cars with a “me first” attitude.
    It might sound crazy but maybe putting a BRT lane right down the middle of three lanes along Wilshire might be a better solution….follow me for a second. You paint off the lane for buses to travel in during the same hours with breaks only where it should be designated for cars to cross over to the right into a protected right turn lane. This would leave that second lane (middle lane if you will), open for the buses to travel in. While doing this, I would move every one of those bus stops where ever possible past each intersection so that the buses aren’t trapped by cars trying to make right turns (a la Vermont, Western, & Rossmore).

    I believe these things would alleviate the flow and some of the pain of traveling down Wilshire during peak hours. My two cents.

  5. What bugs me is that Beverley Hills refuses to even allow Metro and L.A. County to implement the BRT lanes in its city limits. They should be penalized for their lack of cooperation.

  6. Only in a country so addicted to the automobile would a bus lane be referred to as “Bus Rapid Transit”. Whatever.

  7. Mike Dunn,

    Read the map and you’ll see they are adding an entire new lane in one section and totaling reconfiguring the street.

  8. Ivan, anything to keep the poor out of that area, it would seem.
    I don’t really care about this bus lane business, but are they going to fix the roads in the process? I like to bike down this road and the street ranges from un-rideable to ‘oh my God I’m going to die.’

  9. @Erik Griswold: Santa Monica’s Negriff was the first government bureaucrat to proclaim the desire for a bus lane as BRT. Unfortunately, with blue-state governance, only intent matters, not competence or performance. How else do we celebrate 9 mph cross-town speeds, and trains that run at 15mph?

    @Ivan: So sorry, but just as WeHo can make up their own rules for public policy, so too can BH.

    and lastly

    @Chris Loos: Please cease with the punitive attitude. We’ve spent the last five years debunking and removing the red-light camera revenue movement – and now, indictments for bribery and public corruption are pending.

    The public and the courts are pretty much in agreement that a moving violation requires notice, i.e. written in-person by a police officer. If bus-lane incursions are a real problem, then LASD can address it. I suspect that bicycle traffic will be a much bigger problem than cars.

    Cars are not evil – they are the only choice for the majority of Angelenos, until such time as LA City public policy is radically changed to make mass transit, housing and schools, safe, clean and reliable.

    • So cars that are illegally using the bus lanes during rush hour should be let off the hook, and to think otherwise constitutes having a “punitive attitude”. Got it.