Officials today announced the opening at 7 a.m. Wednesday of five miles of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard. The bus lanes will be used by Metro and other muni buses — including the busy Metro Local 20 and Rapid 720 lines. The lanes aim to reduce bus commute times and improve traffic flow along one of busiest corridors in Los Angeles.
The newly opened segments run from: Western Avenue to San Vicente Boulevard; the eastern border of Beverly Hills to Comstock Ave.; Selby Ave. to Veteran, and; Bonsall Ave. to Federal Ave. The lanes add to an existing 1.8 miles of peak hour bus lanes that were opened in June 2013. There is now a continuous 5.4 mile stretch of peak hour bus lanes from South Park View near MacArthur Park to San Vicente Blvd. near the border of Beverly Hills.
The new bus lanes, which are reserved for transit buses and bicyclists between the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., are expected to reduce commute times for Metro bus riders up to 15 minutes for those traveling the entire stretch of Wilshire. Added up, that’s a time savings of about 125 hours a year for those who commute each day. In addition, drivers can also look forward to fewer buses merging in and out of traffic.
Drivers are only allowed in the lanes during peak hours when making right turns. Similar to an HOV or bike lane, striped lines indicate where vehicles can enter the lanes. Drivers face fines and fees ranging from $100 to $500 if caught parking or driving in the lanes during peak hours — please make sure to signal and enter only as you’re nearing the intersection.
A third phase of the project will add .9 miles of bus lane between Federal Avenue and Centinela Avenue for a total of 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lans on Wilshire. The Purple Line Extension of the subway will eventually run under parts of Wilshire, with the first phase between Wilshire/Western and Wilshire/La Cienega forecast to open in 2023.
Among the officials at Tuesday’s announcement in front of the La Brea Tar Pits were Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, L.A. County Supervisor and Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. City Councilmember and Board Member Mike Bonin, Metro Interim Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins, as well as other local officials and representatives of the Federal Transit Authority.
At the event, Mayor Garcetti announced that Metro this spring will begin a pilot program at a few locations to test all-door boarding on Wilshire buses. We’ll have more details on that soon but it will basically involve having a curbside validator and Metro ambassadors at two to four bus stops to test the efficiency of all-door boarding.
Here is a project fact sheet:
Below is the press release from Metro:
Bus riders on one of the busiest traffic corridors will enjoy a faster commute when the second phase of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8.
Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the Federal Transit Administration, along with officials from the city of L.A. and L.A. County, held a ceremony today in advance of Wednesday’s opening of five miles of peak hour bus lanes along Wilshire Boulevard as part of Phase Two of the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The newly opened bus lanes span from Western Avenue to San Vicente Boulevard, the western border of Beverly Hills to Comstock Avenue, Selby Avenue to Veteran Avenue, and Bonsall Avenue to Federal Avenue During the weekday peak hours of 7 – 9 a.m. and 4 – 7 p.m., only transit buses will be allowed in the bus lanes.
“We’re boosting Wilshire Boulevard’s transit usage by turning L.A.’s most active corridor into a fast and reliable bus route for tens of thousands of riders traveling daily between Downtown and and the Westside,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “In the car capital of the world, we’re working to ease traffic flow and cut air pollution by giving Angelenos multiple options for getting where they need to go.”
The Wilshire BRT is a $31.5 million transportation improvement project spanning from Valencia Street near MacArthur Park to Centinela Avenue in West L.A. that will improve traffic flow and save bus riders as much as 15 minutes in travel time along the heavily used Wilshire corridor. Once completed, there will be 9.9 miles of street, signal and signage improvements and 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard
The opening of the Phase Two bus lanes adds to an existing 1.8 mile stretch of peak hour bus lanes between MacArthur Park and Western Avenue that were opened in Phase One of the project. The result is a total of 6.8 miles of peak hour bus lanes along Wilshire Boulevard Of those, 5.4 miles are continuous, running from South Park View near MacArthur Park to San Vicente Boulevard The project will be completed in Fall 2015 with the opening of the last .9 miles of bus lanes between Federal Avenue and Centinela Avenue in West L.A.
“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with Los Angeles to bring more state-of-the art transit options to the growing region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “Enhanced bus service along Wilshire Boulevard will make a huge difference for the thousands of Angelinos who rely on public transit to travel throughout this busy corridor—to jobs downtown, school at UCLA, medical care at the VA Hospital in Westwood, and other important destinations.”
In addition to converting curb lanes to peak hour bus lanes, other project improvements include reconstructing curb lanes along damaged segments of Wilshire Boulevard, new street signage and pavement markings, selective street widening, landscaping near the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center and upgrades to the existing transit signal priority system.
During peak hours, drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks are subject to a citation if driving in the bus only lanes. To acquiant drivers to the 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.
Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown during peak hours. There are currently 55,000 daily boardings with 50 percent of them occurring at rush hours. The average peak hour bus commutes from Valencia Street to Centinela Avenue are 62 minutes in the morning and 75 minutes in the afternoon.
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.
While Metro secured funding and environmental approval, the City of Los Angeles is lead on construction of the project of the segments within their jurisdiction. L.A. County led construction on a segment near the V.A. West Los Angeles Medical Center.
Prior to the project, the only bus lanes in L.A. were along Figueroa Street from Adams Avenue to 7th Street. Metro is currently investigating additional corridors that may benefit from the implementation of BRT service and related improvements.