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: