Measure M: Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Looking north toward 405 and the Sepulveda Pass. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Looking north toward 405 and the Sepulveda Pass. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

One in a series of posts that will look at projects and programs that would receive funding from the Measure M sales tax ballot measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. 

What is it? A project to be built in three phases to expand transit in the 405 corridor between the Orange Line’s Van Nuys Station in the San Fernando Valley and LAX. The three phases:

•Phase One is an ExpressLanes project on the 405 between the 101 and the 10 freeways. The number of current mixed use lanes would be maintained while the ExpressLanes would be tolled so that an express trip would be provided and construction of the transit connection in the second phase could be funded. Projected opening date: 2026-28. Ballot measure contribution: $260 million.

•Phase two is an 8.8-mile high-capacity transit project between the Orange Line’s Van Nuys Station and the Purple Line Extension’s Wilshire/Westwood Station with a stop on the UCLA campus. Projected opening date: 2033-35. Ballot measure contribution: $5.65 billion.

•Phase three is an additional 10-miles of high-capacity transit project between the Purple Line Wilshire/Westwood Station and the Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit station, where Metro Rail passengers will be able to transfer to an Automated People Mover to be built and operated by the Los Angeles World Airports serving the LAX terminals. Projected opening date: 2057-59. Ballot measure contribution: $3.86 billion.

It’s worth noting that a separate project — called the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor — will add a potential rail or bus rapid transit line on Van Nuys Boulevard between the Orange Line and the San Fernando/Sylmar Metrolink station (here’s a post about that project).

What is ‘high-capacity transit?’ That phrase means that it could be a rail line and the funding available reflects that. The type of transit will be decided as part of the formal environmental review process for the project, which has not yet begun. 

Why is the project needed? One sentence from a recent LAT story sums up the situation well: “The 405 carries about 300,000 vehicles a day, a number that the Federal Highway Administration expects to grow by nearly 50%, to 447,000, by 2025.” 

Didn’t Metro recently complete a Sepulveda Pass project? Yes. The project, which was largely completed in 2014, added an HOV lane to the northbound 405 between the 10 and the 101. The project also rebuilt three bridges over the freeway to modern standards and added capacity to on- and off-ramps, while also improving safety and traffic flow at the Wilshire interchange. 

Measure M calls for a half-cent sales tax increase and an extension of the existing Measure R sales tax. 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. 

Other posts on Measure M projects 

Purple Line Extension acceleration

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.

18 replies

  1. Why not extend the Purple line from the VA Hospital down Wilshire or San Vincente thru Pacific Palisades thru Temescal Canyon under the Santa Monica Mountains to Topanga Canyon or Canoga Ave and connect to the Chatsworth Metrolink Station. That way the Westside of the San Fernando Valley can have a direct service to Santa Monica to Downtown LA. Eliminating traveling 101,118 and the 405 all together. Taking how many cars from Calabasas, Simi Valley and the West Valley off the road.

    • Because #1 that’s even way more expensive, #2 – most of the Transit dependent riders appear to be close to the Van Nuys corridor where a new transit project is also being currently considered, and this project can connect to it for a possible one seat ride from Sylmar to LAX. The purple line won’t provide this kind of alternative.

      • Sorry but your reply is wrong on all counts. Your idea ( #1 that’s even way more expensive) is wrong. Because it is a shorter distance than the 405 plan. Also by building the wonderful idea that I propose would cut traffic where it starts. #2 is thoughtless and unfounded, which would attract more people to travel. Everyone knows that many people travel daily on the 101 (Nationally know to be the Nation’s most busiest Freeway) & 118 Freeways to the 405 (Metro just finished a Billion dollar project that did nothing for Traffic) to get into Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Downtown area. Why build a $15 Billion project that will take 15 years to complete? By giving the subway all the way to the West Valley would be stronger ridership. Yes, building the Van Nuys line would be nice yet it would not eliminate as many cars off the Freeways. That is why Metro was formed. Still any subway is very expensive and the ability to plan, build, and complete six Light Rails Trains would be faster and cheaper.

    • @Victor is there a reason you’d want purple line extended that way? I’d rather see it go up the 405 to 101. 118 is hardly congested. I think the density along 101 would be better served by long haul public transit.

      • sunk818, thank you for your reply. I do believe that a metro system is needed and is important. I have lived in L A County in various locations all my life. Those living in the San Fernando Valley (SFV) charge into L A area through the 101, 118, 405 and all the Canyon Passes. Do you know all passes from the West SFV? They flood Malibu with traffic, Santa Monica, Century City and all the way to DTLA. By creating another pass from the SFV will help greatly moving people and traffic. The 405 and Canyon Pass is max. out. The Red Line ridership is High. The Purple Line would be a greater assistance at moving people and reducing cars on the road. More Rail Lines are still needed, i.e. Orange Line Bus line to Light Rail Train or Heavy Subway. The philosophy of Metro Density method is an error. I voted in 1980 for Metro to reduce traffic and to open other ways to move people through the County. Thirty six years later, the traffic is worst on Freeways and main Roads. Metro has built only in L A City. Proof in point the Gold Line Foothill Extension has seen a sharp rise in ridership. L A Times on 03/20/16 ran a article by Ethan M. Elkind, he wrote, it is a waste of money and was completed because of politics. Metro found they have a second major center for people, Pasadena! Only North – South Pass from SFV was the 405 then Red Line next Purple Line. Three North – South ways to get out or in SFV is ideal. A new Subway from Simi Valley to LAX will cost $15 Billion and 15 years meanwhile six new Light Rails could be built and completed Cheaper and Faster in the County.

      • I don’t know all the routes from West SFV but I have many colleagues that work in Getty Villa and Getty Center, so I’m familiar with some of the routes. Sometimes I wish the 734 goes straight down Sepulveda near the Getty Center & UCLA area ( but UCLA area would be completely unserved. Same idea when you suggest using Topanga or Canoga. I think adding an option to the Orange line from Westwood Wilshire would better serve those commuters. If you build all that transport for Topanga or Canoga, you neglect all the Victory/Oxnard between Warner Center and the 405. Traffic doesn’t get bad until Winnetka / Pierce College in the morning commute. So, really, there isn’t enough congestion to neglecting all the other riders so you can divert through Topanga/Canoga, tear up PCH, and connect to Wilshire Westwood. You think subway is wasteful, the suggestion to go through Topanga makes no sense at all. There’s currently no need for rail on 118 as there’s no congestion there. It is the 405 that you need to deal with. I think after the Wilshire Westwood extension to Van Nuys, CA, the better choice will be continue north up the 405, to the 5, and work your way to Valencia. We will have to see how density grows on 101 towards Ventura, but there’s just not enough density to do what you suggest. Maybe that will change in 20-30 years, but it is not the case now.

        • Hi sunk818, I am glad to discuss this with you. Yes it is true about the areas you mention are underserved. I lived in Chatsworth and traveled many times down the 118 for years and yes, there is congestion. A lot of congestion. Looking at the valley and break it down the 405 splits the SFV in half. The Red Line splits the East SFV and the Purple Line splits the West SFV. Remember other parts of the SFV are still not served. Other parts not served like Burbank, Glendale, La Canada, JPL, All of the San Gabriel Valley, Whittier, Montebello, all cities Valley, South of Whittier, Artesia, Lakewood, and over to the Orange County Line. Metro only serves DLA and West from there. Remember SFV is part of L A City. L A City population is 39% of the entire L A County. So 61% of the population is not served by Metro. So the Majority of the Sales Tax Collected has all gone to L A City. There are many more Colleges, Museums Freeways are jammed packed like 210, 10, 60, 5, 105, 91, 405 not being served by Metro. Still the cost of One subway from Van Nuys, Getty Villa and Center and UCLA (will need not only 39% of L A City but as well 61% from all the other Cities in L A County) will need $15 Billion and take over 15 years, while Metro could build 6 LRT in less time and less cost. So, Then lets have two Metro’s. One for L A City and one for the other cities in L A County. So give L A City 39% (46.5 Billion) and give other cities in L A County 61% (73.3 Billion).

        • The best thing that the MTA can do is to combine the Van Nuys North project with the Sepulveda Pass project so that riders can get a one seat ride from the North San Fernando Valley to Getty Center, UCLA, Westwood, and onto LAX. Think of the current and future rail lines that intersect this. In the San Fernando Valley we have, Metrolink, [from Lancaster/Santa Clerita, and from Ventura/ Simi Valley–via a short bus ride] The Orange Line, on the Westside we have the Purple Line @ Wilshire, the Expo Line @ Exposition/Pico, the Crenshaw/LAX and Green line near LAX. In addition to that we have numerous buses that link directly to this project. The purple line needa to stay on Wilshire and eventulally end up in Santa Monica.
          If there is need to connect to either the Expo Line or the Purple Line from Thousand Oaks and other areas to the Northwest, Ventura County Transportation should be the one to do that and NOT Metro as metro does not operate buses in Ventura County, with the exception of the 161 to Thousand Oaks Transit Center.

      • @Victor – You’re going off tangent talking about areas not mentioned in the article. On the 118, there’s a little congestion at 5PM around Porter Ranch. If you look at SFV population map ( the greatest density is between 118, 101, Canoga Park (Warner Center) to the west, and 170/5 to the east. These are the areas with the greatest density and greatest need in terms of a population that rely on public transportation. I get that the middle class also needs to get on public transportation to reduce congestion, but the best bang for your buck is not to the west. The end of 118 is farmland… If there’s anything built on 118, I don’t see it going past Porter Ranch at this point.

  2. All the information listed is bad representation of Los Angeles County. The population of the County 61% outside the city of Los Angeles and L A City is 39%. The maps that Metro has made, L A City is in 70% of the County. In political terms that is called gerrymandering. Manipulating the boundaries to gain the results for L A City. A subway through the Sepulveda Pass is so expensive that metro could build and completer Six Light Rail lines.

  3. “e: 2057-59. Ballot measure contribution: $3.86 billion” — And this one of the many I’m intending to move out of LA in the future. Can’t we just raised this measure to a whole cent.

    Look, I’ll be voting yes on this but waiting another 40 years for Light Rail Subway from Westwood to LAX is ridiculous, so just raise to a whole cent and try to build this quicker.

  4. Logically, all of the freeways should be studied to include rail. Not that they all need to be built, but it would be nice to make them shovel ready if ever needed.

    • Similar to when fiber cables get laid down every time the City has to dig up streets for any sort of utility work.

  5. I seriously just want to see this project done. I come from Ventura County, and today I made a trip to the airport. The trip under ideal conditions would have been 1.5 hours round trip, but this time it took 4.5 hours. Traffic was horrendous! I really hope this project gets done sooner then 2057 and I don’t think a BRT will cut it in this situation.

  6. Too bad they don’t count people instead of cars. The 300,000 vehicles a day would pretty closely equate to 300,000 people per day, yes? Does even 400,000 people per day equate into something you can call a success?

  7. This is vintage Metro, planning transit lines where it is easy. Put a Green Line on a freeway median. Put a Crenshaw line on the old SF tracks. Build Expo where the Air Line tracks were laid in 1875.

    If Metro is going to look ahead to program transit lines now for the year 2057 (!) then it has to think ahead. By 2057 the Santa Monica Airport will be high rises and parks. People will need to get from the Valley to Westwood, Santa Monica Airport, Marina del Rey/Playa Vista, LAX. Not the “Green Line station” and not the suburban sprawl from the 1950s along the 405 and 105.

  8. Metro needs to understand that a BRT in this corrador just won’t cut it with the people of the San Fernaando Valley. This project needs to be combined with the East San Fernando Valley Transit Project and be definate RAIL on the whole project and be ONE PROJECT and NOT two seperate projects.
    If either of these projects are BRT, they fail both the people of the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles. This because BRT can’t deliver the same amount of seating as light rail. Brt requires more labor and more resources due to the fact that BRT requires more operaters, BRT requires more buses. BRT consumes more energy and BRT just can’t expand enough to meet the demand. BRT will have to be replaced in 20 to 30 years and the money spent on the project will NEVER be recovered, just wasted.
    Either do this project right the first time, or don’t do it at all. BRT is a waste of money, just look at the Orange Line!

    • If the tax measure fails it will be BRT. No money for rail plain and simple.