Ballot measure: what you need to know about the Purple Line subway to Westwood

Click above to see larger.

Click above to see larger.

One in a series of posts that will look at projects and programs that would receive funding from the sales tax ballot measure that the Metro Board has approved to send to voters on Nov. 8. 

Purple Line Extension acceleration

What is it? The Purple Line Extension is a nine-mile extension of the Purple Line subway to Westwood. The subway when done will provide a 25-minute ride between Westwood and downtown Los Angeles. The draft spending plan for the ballot measure calls for finishing the entire project between 2024 and 2027 instead of the current target date of 2035.

Could I use the project to reach UCLA? You bet. The center of campus is a 1.1-mile walk, bike ride or bus ride from the future station at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards (UCLA already runs frequent shuttles). The station is also a short walk from Westwood Village and the many high-rise offices and residences in the area, including the Condo Canyon stretch of Wilshire Boulevard. Another station in Westwood will be in front of the Veteran Administration’s West Los Angeles Medical Center.

Where else will the subway go? See the above. Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, the Miracle Mile (with a station across the street from LACMA and the future Academy of Motion Picture/Oscar Museum as well as the La Brea Tar Pits), downtown Beverly Hills and Century City. The Wilshire/Fairfax Station will be about a mile from the Farmers Market and the Grove (with walking, biking and bus connections) and the Wilshire/La Cienega Station is about .75 miles from the Beverly Center and Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Could the subway be done before the 2024 Summer Olympics? That’s the hope. Los Angeles is one of four cities — Budapest, Paris and Rome are the others — competing to host the games and UCLA has been tabbed to host competitions and the athletes’ village. The International Olympic Committee is due to pick a city in Sept. 2017.

Removing a building near the future Wilshire/Fairfax Station on section one of the project to Wilshire/La Cienega. Photo: Metro.

Removing a building near the future Wilshire/Fairfax Station on section one of the project to Wilshire/La Cienega. Photo: Metro.

What happens without the ballot measure? The original plan under Measure R was to build the Purple Line Extension in three phases — to Wilshire/La Cienega by 2023, to Century City by 2026 and to Westwood by 2035. The first section to Wilshire/La Cienega is under construction. The second phase to downtown Beverly Hills and Century City is in the pre-construction phase with Metro finalizing a federal grant and loan to help pay for it.

What’s the big picture here? The entire nine-mile alignment gets done sooner rather than later, likely at less cost. Two rail lines — the Purple Line and Expo Line — would exist to serve the job-heavy Westside. And the Purple Line Extension would later offer transfers to a Sepulveda Pass transit project and northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line (both also funded by the ballot measure under the current draft plan), creating a more complete rail network across Los Angeles County.

Metro’s ballot measure calls for a half-cent sales tax increase and an extension of the existing Measure R sales tax. Here’s a previous post about the revised spending plan for the ballot measure.

Please visit for more info and use the hashtag #metroplan when discussing on social media. The Metro Board approved sending the ballot measure to county voters at their June 23 meeting. 

Related: All previous posts about the Purple Line Extension on The Source are here.


Other posts on ballot measure projects

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Airport Metro Connector

Rail or bus rapid transit on Van Nuys Boulevard

High Desert Corridor

Gold Line extension to Claremont

105 freeway ExpressLanes

Light rail between Union Station and Artesia

Green Line extension to Torrance

Bus rapid transit on Vermont Avenue in L.A.



19 replies

  1. Looks like a repeat of the Wilshire subway that was defeated in the 68 election. Will voters be more interested than 48 years ago?

  2. What happened to the stop at Wilshire and Crenshaw? Is there any chance that can be added later? There is a Metro construction yard already at the South-West corner.

    Western-to-LaBrea is a huge gap, and if the Crenshaw line’s Northern section jogs away from Crenshaw Blvd, there are many neighborhoods left out.

    • A decision was made not to include a station there because it is already close to Wilshire/Western.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. If the Purple Line gets to Westwood by 2024, that’ll be great, because it will be there when I turn 80, that is, still young enough to use it, which I definitely will

  4. It’s insanity that any other funds or extensions would be considered before a north to south line connecting all the east to west fingers of existing lines. Cutting from the expo extension to UCLA territory, through west Hollywood to the red line, would be WAY TOO CONVENIENT and cause too many people to have no use for cars anymore. Nevermind, let’s just keep running more parallel lines that never cross so you have to head all the way downtown to hop on another line..

  5. Too bad getting to Westwood from West of the 405 will still be a huge hassle.

  6. How are they gonna tunnel past the la brea tar pits? Tar oil and gas . Plus why not go through west Hollywood ? The worst traffic tie up through the most badly planned city would be something of a relief.

  7. I know it’s a long way off, but has Metro been working with BBB to think about service changes when the subway opens? For example, will BBB continue to keep the terminal at UCLA, or will it be moved to VA, with “rubber tire trains” to get people from the end of the line in SM?

    • Hi Paul;

      BBB is realigning their service to connect to Expo Line stations. I think it’s too soon to say much about the Purple Line. I agree that it will be very important to get riders from the VA station to destinations in Santa Monica.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

        • Hey —

          Bleat away! And submit an official response to that effect on the draft spending plan for the ballot measure. I welcome comments here — but anyone who has an opinion on what should be funded, should also submit a response. Visit:

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

    • Hi James;

      The team on the Purple Line has been calling it Westwood for years — the station is just west of the 405. Feels a little too far east of Brentwood to be Brentwood. As with many L.A. communities, the lines between them tend to be fuzzy.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Santa Monica Big Blue Bus will provide plenty of service between UCLA & the Expo Line with lines 12 from Westwood Station & 17 from Sepulveda Station, Metro will soon extend existing lines 234, 734, & 788 to reach the Sepulveda Expo Line station with the 234/734 providing the link to UCLA & 788 to the southern end of Westwood Village. As for rail link to UCLA, the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, if the rail option is chosen, may have a station closer to campus. The Purple Line cannot veer off course too much to reach UCLA proper because they determined they don’t want to tunnel directly under the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

  8. One of the keys to the success of the Purple Line is its connectivity to other transit sources. Look at the map – there’s a glaring north-south gap with the Purple Line because the Crenshaw Line, now under construction, is due to terminate at the Expo Line. The Purple Line’s effectiveness will be greatly increased when the Crenshaw Line is extended further north to hook up with the Purple Line – but, under Metro’s current plans – this is not due to happen until 2055 (!!)

    At a minimum, the northern extension of the Crenshaw Line should be built in phases so that the Crenshaw line can connect to the Purple Line as quickly as possible. This will allow quick and convenient access between the communities to be served by the Purple Line and LAX, Crenshaw, Inglewood and the South Bay.

    • I agree 300% that extension of the Crenshaw/LAX line north should have higher priority. At least start the environmental / alternatives / prelim design process ASAP. Can we store Harriet the TBM or is she spoken for after next year?

      The other oddity that needs explaining is running the Purple Line along Wilshire near UCLA. This is THE monstrous travel destination in West LA – why shouldn’t the line swerve a little north and run under LeConte Ave? The subway will be built deep underground regardless. UCLA shuttle buses need only run on campus, not clog up Westwood Blvd.