If you ride a bus that travels down Wilshire Boulevard during peak hours, you should see a slight improvement in travel time starting tomorrow morning. A segment of the Wilshire Boulevard BRT bus lanes opens at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Here’s the press release from Metro:
Bus riders on one of the busiest traffic corridors in Los Angeles County will enjoy faster commutes when the first segment of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard opens at 7 a.m., Wednesday, June 5.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) the Federal Transit Administration, along with L.A. City and County officials held a ceremony today in advance of Wednesday’s opening of the first 1.8-mile section along Wilshire Boulevard between MacArthur Park and Western Avenue. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane will be reserved for transit buses during weekday morning and afternoon rush hours.
“To improve convenience and mobility, bus riders will save as much as 15 minutes travel time in the corridor when fully completed late next year,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chairman Michael D. Antonovich.
The Wilshire Boulevard BRT is a $31.5 million transportation improvement project stretching from Valencia Street to Centinela Avenue. By late 2014, there will be 9.9 miles of street, signal and signage improvements along with 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes. During the hours of 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., only transit buses will be allowed in the bus lanes.
“Wilshire Boulevard is one of the busiest transportation corridors in the region, and I think most Angelenos know what a challenge it can be to get through it,” said Mayor Villaragiosa. “Now, with designated bus lanes along the first 1.8-miles from MacArthur Park to Western Avenue, we have the beginning of a system that can shave valuable minutes off commuting times for everyone on Wilshire Boulevard.”
During peak hours, Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown. There are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of them occurring at 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. Before this project, the only other bus lanes in L.A. were along Figueroa Street from Adams Avenue to 7th Street.
“This is the first step toward completing the Wilshire bus only lanes,” Los Angeles Department of Transportation General Manager Jaime de la Vega said. “We’re working with Metro to identify other corridors where we can speed up bus service and improve reliability.”
The project is funded through a federal Very Small Starts (VSS) grant awarded to Metro in August 2011. The grant of $23.3 million was paired with an $8.2 million local match.
“Wilshire Boulevard is the natural first step as it is the most important transportation corridor in the county with the highest ridership in our bus system and we expect it to grow even more with the implementation of bus lanes,” Metro CEO Art Leahy said. “Peak hour bus lanes have been successful in New York, Chicago and Boston.”
During peak hours, drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks are subject to a citation if driving in the BRT lanes. To acquaint the community to the new concept, a short transition period is being observed during which drivers in the bus lanes may be warned. Cars and trucks turning right during peak hours may use the curbside lane as well as bicyclists.
While Metro secured funding and environmental approval, the City of Los Angeles is lead on construction of the project. The County of Los Angeles will lead construction on a segment near the Veterans Administration West Los Angeles Medical Center.