Some don’t like the poll itself, others definitely aren’t thrilled with the idea of placing a station at the VA Hospital — they want a station farther west. The latest results are at the right.
Here’s my two cents on that: at this point, the Board of Directors of Metro have decided in the agency’s long-range plan that the subway for now is going to Westwood based on the funds the agency has available through Measure R and, hopefully, the federal New Starts program.
The Board could hypothetically change its mind and decide to fund the subway going farther to Brentwood — but that requires more money. And right now, of the more than $13 billion in transit projects in Measure R, about $6 billion are going to projects in the Westside — the subway extension, the second phase of the Expo Line and a future 405 transit project linking the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.
So it’s a political issue. The Measure R sales tax making all these projects possible was approved by voters across the county and the Board of Directors have already had many eons of discussions about distributing those funds across the county. That is important to keep in mind.
Now, the good stuff:
This station is a bad location. The VA will not allow development, parking for transit riders, or a bus transfer center on their land, and all of the buses that serve the VA also serve Westwood and Bundy (the stations east and west of here). So it will only be useful to get to the VA hospital itself. Instead, the station should be placed a couple blocks west at the edge of the VA property, between Barrington and Federal, where there are many offices and apartments in walking distance. The VA would still be only a 5 minute walk or short shuttle ride away; the current parking lot shuttles could also serve the new station portal at the corner of Wilshire and Federal. A station there would be much better used and more cost-effective….The choice given is betwen VA station [I’ll use it / I won’t] and No VA station. Of course, if that is really the choice, most of us would vote to build a station. But the real choice should be VA Station versus Barrington/Federal Station versus Bundy station. If you asked that question, I think you will find many more people in support of Barrington instead of the station right in front of the VA, or extending the subway to Bundy in the first phase.
A station at the VA Hospital would be a terrible waste of funds given that there is a great mix of high density office, retail and residential uses just to the WEST of the VA Property. A station at Wilshire/Barrington would make much more sense, as it would serve the high-density West LA neighborhood and still be close enough to the VA for shuttle service (for the veterans and visitors that will actually use the subway, once in a while, to get to and from the hospital).
I do believe a station at the VA would serve a great purpose. People forget that just south of the VA there is a big employment center at Santa Monica and Sepulveda which is a seven minute walk (2 minute bike ride) from the VA. So this station would be the gateway for that area, being that the Westwood/Wishire station would be farther away.
Putting the station next to the 405 in the VA, which is in of itself the main reason for the bottleneck in the area, accomplishes nothing. Everyone will be forced onto Wilshire, which is the main problem now as the VA blocks access through the area. Not sure how the MTA is getting such high ridership estimates. Only a few people get on and off here on the 720 now (usually many more get on and off at Barrington). The hospital does provide some ridership, but it is just one building and if you aren’t going there, then there is little reason to use a station here as one can see from the Google maps that the area surrounding here is just grass, trees, empty parking lots and the freeway. Having a direct connection to Century City from an area like Barrington would really bring in a lot of ridership through linking an employment center to where many people live is key. However, people aren’t going to bus it in heavy traffic over to the VA just to then transfer to the subway to a place like Century City.
Selecting a VA stop now versus resurrecting a Barrington stop in the future seems shortsighted…The dense apartment nature around Barrington and commercial property on Wilshire is surely greater than most of the selected stops within Santa Monica, except, perhaps, the terminus. Health care accessibility for veterans could easily be facilitated by a VA shuttle connecting to Barrington and Westwood on either side of the hospital. The only potentially redeeming attribute for a VA stop is it’s proximity to I-405, which in this vicinity is the likely right of way for a transit line connecting the valley to the purple line, expo line, and ultimately LAX. However, without that planning done and without a commitment from the feds on access to their real estate, building a stop at the VA hinges on too many what-ifs and an expensive parking structure to accommodate commuters from the valley who supposedly will use the purple line. Though, I bet, if these commuters drive all the way to the VA, then they’ll drive the rest of the distance to their Westside destination. The subway should be built from the local perspective first and from the commuter perspective as a distant second. Also, with the VA, there is no potential for TOD.
As a member of the VFW, I can tell you that at times, veterans struggle to find transportation to their scheduled appointments or to the emergency room or walk-in clinic if needed. There are times that the VA Shuttle does not run and this would be the quickest/easiest way for them to reach the needed medical treatment.
We need to think about this long-term, with the idea of a transit NETWORK in mind. Some time down the road, there will be rapid transit connecting the Valley and the Westside. The only reasonable place to put that transit line will be along I-405/Sepulveda. In that case, it makes sense to have a Purple Line station as close to the 405/Sepulveda as possible.
I do recognize that if Westwood/Wilshire Station were the western terminus, the traffic effects would be far worse. I just wish they would consider putting this a bit farther west, at least at Wilshire/Federal, where it would actually be close to neighborhoods, office buildings and cross streets.