More refined concepts and early cost estimates are released for Sepulveda Transit Corridor

Metro staff continue to refine the concepts for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project that will build a heavy rail line or monorail between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station in the San Fernando Valley and the Expo Line on the Westside — and eventually all the way to LAX.

We have news involving routes, station locations, cost estimates and potential rail yard locations (here is an online presentation). There is also an upcoming round of community meetings (dates and times are the bottom of the post) in which the public is invited to comment on any aspect of the project.

The bottom line is we want to know what you think of the routes, the type of transit, potential station locations, things you think we should be considering or anything else! If not attending a meeting, you can comment online by leaving a comment with this post or using the project’s official online comment form.

Before we dive into those details, let’s provide a quick refresher on the project’s process so far.

Earlier this year, Metro narrowed the list of potential routes and types of transit to four. Three of the routes would use heavy rail — the same kind of trains used on the Red/Purple Line subway — and the other route would be a monorail. All four routes would extend to the Van Nuys Metrolink Station to help reduce overcrowding on the future light rail line between Van Nuys and the Sylmar/Metrolink Station (called the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor). 

This slide shows what’s currently on the table and projected ridership travel times for each of the four.


The travel times for this project would be fast — likely quicker than driving on the 405 at most times of the day— and ridership is expected to be as high as our busiest transit line, the Red/Purple Line subway. Before you ask: yes, Metro is working with UCLA to find a station site on campus and that station is expected to be the busiest non-transfer stations in the Metro system.

As far as project news:

•We now have some very early cost estimates for the four refined concepts and they range between $9.4 billion and $13.8 billion. Point of emphasis: the word “estimates.” This project is nowhere near the design or engineering phases and Metro has yet to do any value engineering on the project to help contain costs. 

The Measure M spending plan commits about $5.7 billion to the project from local sales taxes and other sources. Measure M assumed additional funding would be needed for some projects and the Measure M cost estimates for this project and some others were done before planning began or advanced on some projects.

•Why is the project expensive? One big reason: the Valley to Westside phase of the project is 13 to 15 miles long, running between the Van Nuys Metrolink Station and the Expo Line after studies indicated ridership demand was thereTwo of the alternatives are also entirely underground. More tunneling adds expense. 

•One way to tackle the funding issue is being considered this Thursday when staff are asking the Metro Board to approve using a Predevelopment Agreement (PDA) in which the agency would bring in a private firm or firms to help advance the design of the individual concepts.

The idea behind this approach is that early involvement from the private sector could help find ways to improve the project and lower costs. If the PDA is successful in developing a feasible project that is chosen by the Metro Board of Directors, the firm would then have a chance to make Metro an offer to build the project as a Public Private Partnership (P3). The private sector partner would also supply a portion of financing as well as potentially operate and maintain the project. Metro could accept the offer, refuse it or pursue another concept for the project altogether.

As part of Metro’s PDA approach, the public will still have every opportunity to comment on proposals, just like with any of our projects. Metro will have final say on all project design decisions, as well as running the project’s environmental review process. The Metro Board will be making the ultimate decision about what the project will be and how to proceed with the PDA partner.

•In response to public comments, Metro staff are also studying adding a station at or near Santa Monica Boulevard that would be in between the planned stations at the Purple Line and the Expo Line. Metro is still working on whether the first segment of the Sepulveda Project between the Valley and Westside would end at the Expo Line’s Bundy or Sepulveda stations.


•Metro has also begun looking for sites for a rail yard for this project where rail vehicles can be inspected, cleaned, maintained and stored when not in service.

One common question we’ve received is why Metro can’t use one of its existing rail yards or the one that Metro will build in Van Nuys as part of the future light rail line between Van Nuys and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink station.

The answer is simple: none of these yards would have enough space to hold another fleet of heavy rail or monorail vehicles.

A maintenance and storage yard is an absolute must for the project. It can’t be built without it. These potential locations are not set in stone, and others may also be identified during the project’s formal environmental studies.

•Another question we’re getting: why not put the project down the middle of the 405 between the Valley and Westside?

The monorail alternative proposes a stretch alongside the 405 between Ventura Boulevard and Getty Center Drive. The middle of the freeway presents some challenges, which will be discussed as part of this round of meetings: 

—Under Measure M ExpressLanes are already planned for the 405 to replace the current HOV lanes. There isn’t enough space on the 405 for both ExpressLanes and a new transit line without again widening the freeway. The most recent widening of the 405 — to add the northbound HOV lane between the 10 and the 101 — was completed in 2014 and we don’t believe the public is eager to endure another widening anytime soon.

—Columns to support an aerial structure on the 405 would likely interfere with sight lines for motorists and thus violate Caltrans design standards for new projects. There is also a drainage pipe in the median that prevents flooding on the freeway that would have to be relocated to accommodate columns. That would expand construction into adjacent lanes and likely require extended lane closures.

—Metro has built transit projects in freeway medians (parts of the Green Line, Gold Line and the Harbor Transitway used by the Silver Line) and has generally found that riders do not like the noise, ambiance or accessibility of such stations. 

•On the subject of parking, Metro has studied how riders would reach the first phase between the Valley and Westside.

The vast majority would either use transit or walk and bike. We’ve found that only two percent of riders would drive to the line. This, in large part, is due to how the Sepulveda alternatives focus on connecting to other existing or planned high-capacity transit lines in both the Valley and the Westside.

•Metro is also studying routes for the second phase of the project between the Expo Line and LAX. At the public’s request, a third route option is now being studied that would partially follow Overland Avenue — this is possible only if the Expo Line’s Sepulveda Station is used for this project. 



The Metro Board of Directors later this year will decide which concepts for Sepulveda to send into the project’s formal environmental studies. The Board could select any or all from the above routes and the Board has the discretion to add other options. 


There are also upcoming community meetings to learn more about the project. They will be held:

Wednesday, July 24, 6 – 8 p.m.
Proud Bird Restaurant
11022 Aviation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. – noon
Veterans Memorial Building
4117 Overland Ave.
Culver City, CA 90230

Tuesday, July 30, 6 – 8 p.m.
St. Paul the Apostle Church
10750 Ohio Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Saturday, Aug. 3, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center
6262 Van Nuys Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
This will be a bilingual meeting. The English presentation will be at 10:30 a.m.; the Spanish presentation will be at 11:45 a.m. 

37 replies

  1. I think the south end should last till El Secundo, because a lot of employers are there and they might help with the construction. The other end should begin somewhat on Topanga & Roscow – there are a lot of people and new home constructions there. People on the East of Supelveda are closer to Universal subway station.

  2. Whatever happens, I think the MRT should be dropped at the start. It’s a different technology, and the complications of a separate proprietary technology should only be accepted if nothing else can serve the corridor.
    Since HRT can fill the need and can use the same cars other existing lines use, it should be the primary choice.
    I also think plans should be made at the outset to be able to connect to other lines for through running and single seat service for as far as can be accommodated. Transfers discourage passengers.

  3. For the Valley segment, HRT 1 is the best but it needs a station between Sunset & Wilshire. It should end at Expo/Sepulveda.
    For the LAX segment, I prefer a Purple Line extension with a station at Santa Monica Blvd & another one somewhere between Olympic & Venice.

  4. 1. This should go from the Valley -> Westside -> Southbay -> Long Beach.
    2. Time to completion for that entire line should be 2035 at the latest. Anything beyond should be considered unacceptable.
    3. Make it faster with more innovation. Since this should be running itself, make the cars self-detaching so as the train approaches a station, some of the cars at the end detach and exit onto the stop while other cars from the station attach onto the still moving train. The entire train can stop at mass transit points. This would make the travel time of those traveling longer distances shorter and more bearable since it will almost be non-stop service to their stop.

  5. Such an exciting project! Metro is doing some great work here, and I only have some minimal feedback to give:

    I don’t understand how HRT 2 has lower ridership projections vs HRT 1 when it captures trips to/from the Sherman Oaks Galleria area and all those office jobs–that doesn’t make sense to me at all, especially for only a 1-minute difference in travel time. That said, I like how HRT 1 connects directly with the Van Nuys Blvd corridor.

    To me, the ideal routing would be something like “HRT 1.5” where HRT 1 just swings west to Ventura/Sepulveda, but then swings back east again to connect with the Orange Line at Van Nuys Blvd. I can’t see a technical reason this couldn’t be feasible, and it would result in ridership capture without adding additional travel time. Van Nuys definitely is the better transit corridor in the Valley.

    Overland via Expo/Sepulveda is definitely the way to go, too, as this routing would really help connect students of W LA College, and I’m sure many of them are living in the SFV. Too bad there’s no station proposed for the Howard Hughes Center, though, with all that retail and housing that just got built–a missed opportunity there, if you ask me, especially since that would also capture the LMU students living in the Westchester neighborhoods flanking Sepulveda.

    As far as the costs go, can I raise my hand at the back of the classroom and ask something in a really small voice? Since the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor was evaluated and selected as LRT before this project had really been fleshed-out, and I see the additional Valley stops were added to help reduce overcrowding on the future light rail line between Van Nuys and the Sylmar/Metrolink Station, shouldn’t the ESFVTC alternative analysis be re-opened in light of this new development to reconsider HRT? It seems like it would make so much more sense to build ONE line instead of 2, which would eliminate unnecessary modal transfers, duplication of services, and also obviate finding space for a second rail yard. You’d then have HRT connections from LAX to BOTH Metrolink stations, providing transit connections to LAX from both Ventura County as well as the Antelope Valley with only a single connection. If I’m missing something here, please let me know!

  6. Will it stop at the Getty Center? It definitely should, given the vast amount of tourists and employees.

    • Hi Monica;

      There is not a planned station at Getty Center. While Getty Center is awesome and a popular attraction, we don’t think it would generate the ridership that other nearby stations would and we think that the Center can be accessed from other nearby stations via shuttles or our bus system.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. Adding to my comment regarding the Purple line extension option; a stub end tunnel should be built to branch off the line so as to allow easy continuation to downtown Santa Monica were that to be approved and built at a future time.

  8. Purple Line extension is the way to go as far as phase 2 is concerned for sure, though a stop at Santa Monica / Bundy would be wise. As far as phase 1, HRT is the best option for obvious reasons. MRT will be significantly slower and have less capacity, as well as introducing a separate incompatible vehicle set from the rest of the system plus the cost savings aren’t that much anyway.

    For HRT 3, is it really necessary to demolish all of the existing buildings on the blocks that the Ventura / Sepulveda station occupies? Really? C’mon this just seems like lazy planning. Its an elevated station which means it should take up less room and require less complicated construction and yet Metro has still found a way to create a giant empty space where a station is just like with so many of the underground stations. Facepalm… Why can’t the station be built just north of the intersection instead? Seriously. There’s gotta be a way to make it work.

  9. I really like the Purple Line extension option that connects directly to the LAX people mover and the Green/Crenshaw Lines (those lines are one and the same because the Green line will soon be replaced by essentially two lines). This means that LAX will be directly connected to DTLA, Union Station, and the Wilshire corridor, and most other destinations by one transfer.

    I also don’t know if this is intentional or not, but it has been shown that a network of L-shaped lines is the most effective at reducing the number of transfers in a system and prevents any particular station from being overwhelmed with connecting passengers. Metro already does this – the Silver Line, future Pasadena – Long Beach Line, and the Green Line all form the shape of an L. The Purple Line would likely benefit from this as well, by reducing K-Town to Santa Monica to just one transfer.

    Another concern is that while a monorail looks fancy, I’m not sure Metro should really get involved in the business of procuring yet another mode of vehicle that it doesn’t already have experience operating. The civil engineering, electrical, software, and signaling systems are all different based on the type of vehicle. The history of transit is filled with blunders over this type of mistake, such as the automated train cars in Taipei (had to replace entire computer system) and the signaling issues at Denver RTD (operator and agency now suing each other).

    Also, I don’t think these lines are really as far away as they seem on the calendar because congestion pricing is coming. I firmly believe that once we have one congestion pricing pilot, people will see that the world doesn’t end and the net income will be used to fund more transit and accelerate current projects.

  10. The Expo/Sepulveda route provides a good middle ground between the job centers in Century City and the companies near Centinella. Right down the middle makes the most sense.

    HRT1 seems to be the simplest which I think is also a winner.

  11. Mass transportation should have right of way and speed as the priorities. If the travel times are about the same or only slightly less, people will rather drive. Definitely agree with some of the comments to have the MRT option be removed completely. It is slow, does not reach as many people, a longer route, and cost almost as much. HRT 1 or 3 should be the option to consider, making the priority to either speed or higher ridership. Also consider that while the upfront construction costs are higher, operational costs are lower and would make more sense in the long run. HRT 1 option with the Centinela west side option would be the best to get both the Valley and Westside residents direct access to LAX, supplementing the Culver City bus line to Greenline Aviation LAX station. Hopefully Metro understands to start the construction where the usage will be the highest, instead of how the CA High Speed Rail line started in the middle of (almost) nowhere.

  12. Speed-wise and system-wise I think HRT1 is the way to go. A straight shot from UCLA/Weswood to Ventura/Van Nuys and then up to Metrolink will simplify travel and prevent confusion for riders. Having a circular route up Sepulveda that twisting back to Van Nuys seems superfluous, and despite the high-rises at Sepulveda and Ventura, there is less up north from that. (Also too close to the 405.) Van Nuys is pretty dense from Ventura all the way up to Sylmar.

  13. I recommend the Westside to LAX route be done first before the longer route. It’s useless to not have a LAX connection before Sepulveda is done. The monorail should omitted due to the almost 10 minute slower pace. Pick HRT 1 or HRT 2 with direct route to LAX.

  14. the purple line phase two extension should be refined.

    meaning if the purple line extension for phase two is possible, the stub phase one sepulveda line from purple to Expo shouldn’t be built.

    This could be accomplished by routing the sepulveda line down the east side of the UCLA campus, and then having it turn west to interline with the purple line before accessing the Wilshire/Westwood Station.

    This would prevent spending six hundred million dollars on a sepulveda line wilshire westwood station.

    The purple line and sepulveda line would then interline between Wilshire Westwood and LAX. With both HRT, and fully grade separated, 5 minute headways for each (2.5 mnutes between each train in this area) would be entirely doable.

    The funding for the phase one sepulveda line purple-to-expo segment could be redirected for a phase one purple/sepulveda VA to Expo segment.

  15. All these options are great as it allows the City’ homeless to further their reach throughout the region, even into the westside. I vote for any option that will help expand the problem created by the ‘leaders’ of our city. In fact, I support free ridership for them, no laws regarding the use of public facilities as they can use the trains as their toilets, and they should be allowed to sleep on the trains and in the stations with no problems.

  16. H3 is the way to go, 3 minutes longer travel time for 9,000 for riders. If the elevated portions from Van Metrolink to Ventura Blvd station on the north and using part of the 405 ROW on the south side for elevated portions, would have some cost reductions and the shorten build times.
    ALSO, like the idea of extending the Purple Line past the VA hospital to LAX, but i would simply then continued it past the VA hospital to Santa Monica (finish the subway to the sea :)) , then turn south on Lincoln Blvd to LAX rather than trying to do bus rapid on Lincoln. Intermediate stops in Ocean Park, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Westchester/LMU and on to 93rd street station at LAX, where, if the Sepulveda Line comes is as well, you get some flexibility on subway dispatching- a train arriving on Purple can go back out on Sepulveda and so on.
    Also then, you COULD us the existing Subway yard for many of the trains as the extension is connected to the main. I agree though, you will need some type of yard in Van Nuys- just a lay over yard- the bigger repairs would still be done at the main yard.

  17. The best option for the valley residents is HRT 2. With a stop at Ventura Blvd and Sepulveda. It cost the most but it is the only one relief the the traffic from 405

  18. I think it’s a bad idea to have the train next to the 405. Here’s why…

    Trains increase foot traffic. Foot traffic is good for business.

    That’s an asset!

    But that asset is only as good as were you place it.

    The 405 is hard to get to, it’s busy, it’s noisy, it’s smoggy. I haven’t done an official study but I can safely say that most Angelenos don’t want to be near the 405 if they don’t have to.

    During rush hour a driver spends as much time getting to the 405 as they do riding it home.

    Placing a train next to the 405 will increase foot traffic in areas where congestion and gridlock are already a problem. Adding pedestrians to those areas will only make the matter worse.

    Therefore, Putting the train next to the 405 freeway not only limits the trains value for the community and the city but has the potential to add time to an already lengthy commute.

  19. If a monorail (for MRT 1) needs to be elevated, then how, exactly, would a tunnel fit into the picture??

  20. I love the concept of extending the Purple Line to LAX it’s a Game Changer!!!! These projects are just in concept’s and it seems to me the price tag to build out these projects are probably going to cost close to +$25 Billion when it’s all said and done with the lawsuits these NIMBY’S are going to throw at Stoping Progress for the greater good of Public Transit in Los Angeles!!!!

    • Agreed with the Purple Line extension, but it needs a stop between the VA hospital and Expo/Bundy. Granted with the curve between the two makes this a bit challenging. A Wilshire/Bundy or Santa Monica/Bundy stop would significantly help traffic in the area.

  21. I love all these renderings (minus the monorail, but its growing on me). But what bothers me is the impending headache of all the different modes of transport for the valley residents. It would be so much more convenient that the Sepulveda pass line and Van Nuys lines are the same modes of transportation. The current plans induce a multi seat transfer like at 7th/ metro and the future expo/ crenshaw. I’d love for Metro to study further to try to make this all one line whether it be elevated HRT or monorail.

  22. Why are both west side meetings (not counting the one at LAX) being held East of the 405? The fact that people who live or work West of the 405 won’t be able to make it to the meeting (because of the crippling traffic getting to the 405) should show you that the line needs to go down Bundy/Centinella. But by putting the meeting further East, you’re not going to hear those individuals.

    • I personally believe Centinella is too close to the future Lincoln Line. Sepulveda all the way.

      • I mean the future Lincoln Line won’t be built until 2047 and it’s also slated to be a bus line, not rail. And putting the line on Sepulveda just doubles down on Metro’s failed strategy of putting rail lines on/near freeways and their accompanying pollution. You want density near rail lines, but not near freeways for health reasons, so the answer (unless you’re moving the freeway) is to put rail lines away from the freeways. Putting rail on Sepulveda is going to encourage density in an unhealthy location, not to mention the fact that Sepulveda is hard to get to because of the daily crush of cars trying to get to the 405.

  23. The biggest question for the Overland route vs. Sepulveda route is this: Will Playa Vista and Silicon Beach (Centinela/Jefferson) generate more ridership than the Westfield Culver City and surrounding business parks (Sepulveda/Slauson) / West LA City College (Jefferson/Overland) / Sony Studios and Downtown Culver City (Venice/Overland)?

    It doesn’t appear that stops at Centinela/Venice and Centinela/Culver have major job centers- so these stops would be more dependent on local residents commuting.

    The other trade-off is the location of the Santa Monica location. It seems that a Santa Monica/Sepulveda stop would have access to more job centers, with the massive skyscraper complex and Variety headquarters in the immediate vicinity. Santa Monica/Barrington or Bundy would have thousands of apartments immediate vicinity but there aren’t too many jobs in the area.

    The more I write about it, it seems like the Overland route makes the most sense and hits the most job centers. I would imagine the ridership projections would show this to have the most riders.

    (Complete side bar- if the Overland route is selected, the Lincoln BRT route should prioritize Playa Vista commuters as they will be left out of Sepulveda. But that’s a conversation for another day).

    • Culver City is already covered by the Expo Line (which will then connect to this line). The Crenshaw Line will come close to most of the areas you mention near Overland. On the other hand, Playa Vista/Silicon Beach is exploding in employment right now, Santa Monica is exploding in both housing and jobs, and neither will have a north/south option for 40 years unless this goes down Centinela.

      • But the people who live on centinela all are rich and probably won’t use this. Same for the people in Playa. And the expo does not really cover this for palms. In fact back tracking to Crenshaw and changing is circuitous and slow. Palms is one of the densest neighborhoods in la and growing it deserves a connection to LAX.

        • The proposed Overland/Venice stop is less than 3/4 of a mile from the current Expo Palms station and a little over 1 mile to the Culver City station. So someone at Overland/Venice could walk/bike/bus to either of those easily. On the other hand, someone at Venice/Centinela is out of luck unless there is a station west of the 405.

        • And that’s not even mentioning that an Overland/Jefferson station would have a decent portion of its 1 mile radius consumed by… oil fields. Presumably the oil would also make it a more dangerous construction project, but I guess they’ll figure that out if it advances to the environmental stage.

      • I agree with the need for a north/south line for the west-of-405 area. And a station at Jefferson/Centinela would be in the heart if Playa Vista and adjacent to a lot of Silicon Beach. Apple and Google would both be down the street.

        Like I said above, I wonder about the ridership with the stops at Centinela/Culver and Centinela/Venice.

        I did another look at Bundy/Expo and Sepulveda/Expo and Bundy seems to be more walkable than Sepulveda. I saw Hulu, Riot and Fox are all walking distance from Bundy. Sepulveda doesn’t have much immediately adjacent to it, other than the under-sized ToD (I’m still lamenting the loss of the Target). Also, Bundy/Expo would allow for a station at Ocean Park, which is down the street from a major business park and the HQ for Activision.

        Santa Monica/Barrington and Santa Monica/Sepulveda are basically a wash. Barrington is more walkable and is denser. Sepulveda has more jobs immediately adjacent but Santa Monica might as well be a freeway through the area if you’re a pedestrian.

        I got excited by the potential of a line down Overland, and the potential job centers it could hit. A line down Centinela, via Bundy/Expo, with an added station at Ocean Park would be a very high performing line as well. I think the Centinela line via Sepulveda/Expo would be a wasted opportunity. I don’t think the lines down the 405 and down Sepulveda hit as many jobs and don’t hit as many residents/are as walkable either.

        Centinela and Overland are going to be the highest performing options. If Overland is chosen, then I think Metro needs to consider a Lincoln line to be accelerated. If Centinela is chosen, does Metro proceed with the Lincoln line or do they put their efforts elsewhere?

  24. It should definitely have a Santa Monica Blvd. stop, connect with Expo at Expo/Bundy and then travel down Centinella. This will connect better to the jobs on the west side and is where all of the housing growth is centered. Plus, it will alleviate traffic getting to the 405.