New bus lanes to open on Wilshire Boulevard

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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.

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20 replies

  1. LA Driver:

    At rush hour, MORE people are riding the 720/20 buses than in cars. This is FACT. Therefore, by not having the bus lane, the cars are blocking MORE people from getting to their destination than vice versa. You have NO CLUE what you are talking about.

  2. Looking forwad to cycling this! Sound so much safer!!

    Nodding at the naysayers: I’m sure that the busses will have an opportunity to pass any cyclist using the lane at stop lights. That’s the normal way of driving no? Don’t you drive that way?

    I don’t thnik the bus can go more that 60 seconds between stoplights, so even a “bus load’ of cyclists won’t slow down a bus apprecably. (OK, Ok ia few seconds is a lifetime to a Type A racing pulse competitve bus rider. They see something, anything in front of them – they have to pass it, no matter what. Do we have a lot of those types riding the bus?)

    Really, this will be a good thing for getting accross town.

    Eric W

  3. I hope these the bus/bike only rules in these lanes will be vigilantly enforced. The success of this project is going to depend on it. You KNOW there’s going to be drivers that get tempted by that wide open lane.

  4. @Atheistically Yours: There are most certainly NOT “zero riders” on the Purple Line. That said, I would think the line won’t operate at or near capacity until at least the first phase of the extension is opened.

    But what I’d like to know is whether Wilshire has (or will have) dedicated bus signals similar to the one at 9th & Fig in DTLA. This light detects when a bus is waiting, then shows as transit “go” signal (as well as a pedestrian walk signal) a few seconds before the general green light turns on. This helps to ensure buses and pedestrians get priority before other vehicles try to cut them off with right turns, etc. Will or have these been installed in the Wilshire BRT area?

    • Hi Alika,

      There are dedicated signals on Wilshire, and they will be enhanced as part of this project.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  5. at some point, we’ll look back on this as one of the most pivotal points in shaping LA’s future. Our city can become more resilient by moving more people through congested corridors on buses rather than cars.

  6. I don’t see Dave’s issue with Cyclist.

    Far too many already exhibit this behavior and block traffic lanes for automobiles.

    Now, with the taking of a lane for Metro, which will only make auto traffic more congested, what’s wrong with bus riders experiencing the same frustration that car drivers do at the hands of cycling activists?

  7. My only issues with Cyclist (Which I consider one myself on a “Part-time” basis), is that they’ll use the lanes, but some will be too inconsiderate to pull over by the sidewalk and let the 4 720 buses they’ve been slowing down for the past 3 miles pass, causing further delays.

    Again, this isn’t to bash on all cyclist, but this is something I know many people have witnessed.

    • B.Kuo,

      As far as I know motorcycles are not allowed in the bus lanes during peak hours. I’ll check with the city to confirm this.

      ETA: Confirmed that motorcycles are not allowed during peak hours, and this will be enforced by LAPD.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

    • Hi David,

      Yes, bicycles are allowed to use the bus lanes at all times. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the buses.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  8. It would seem Beverly HIlls would embrace, it will get the busses through their schity faster.

  9. Of course this will only last until the “Purple Line Extension” opens (5-10 years from now!), and then the buses will VAPORIZE overnight as the MTA forces everyone onto the newly extended “Purple Line”, which has next to ZERO RIDERS ON IT now!

  10. Ive noticed people are already avoiding the lanes on Wilshire! I cant say this happened fast, but boy they seemed to appear literally over night!