We’ve got updates on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project and we want your feedback (by December 8, please)!

We recently shared some updates on the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, a project that will build a rail line across the Santa Monica Mountains, providing a much-needed transit connection between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside (anyone who’s sat on the 405 at rush hour knows what I’m talking about!).

A little background if you’re coming into this cold: The dream of building a modern rail line across the Sepulveda Pass has been around a long time. The Southern California Rapid Transit District’s (SCRTD’s) failed 1974 ballot measure included a ‘Canoga Park to LAX’ route. Similar proposals came up again in 1976 and 1980 … but funding was never secured.

SCRTD’s 1974 rail transit master plan

Measure R — approved by LA County voters in 2008 — provided seed money for the project. Then Measure M, in 2016, added more funding that kicked the project into gear.

A 2017 feasibility study explored different transit options between the Valley and LAX. We put everything on the table –– light rail, heavy rail, monorail, maglev (magnetic levitation technology, popular in Asia) –– and even a gondola!

We started with 48 (not a typo!) build alternatives. By 2021, we winnowed them down to six and began our formal environmental review. All the remaining build alternatives would run between the Van Nuys Metrolink station and an E Line station (either Sepulveda/Expo or Bundy/Expo) All six would connect with the G and D Lines. We’re also studying a ‘no build’ alternative; that is, a version of the future in which this project does not exist.

But there are key distinctions, too. The routes are different, ranging from 12 to 16+ miles in length. The technologies are different. Three of the alternatives use monorail –– an elevated straddle-type system –– and the other three are heavy rail, like our B and D Line subway.

We recently shared two key estimates that are part of our studies –– the estimated travel times and number of estimated boardings for each alternative. Keep reading for a brief rundown. You can check out the complete presentation here.

Travel Times 

As the chart above shows, end-to-end travel times among the six alternatives range between 18 and 32 minutes. All alternatives are faster than driving at peak hours.

Also notable: the range of travel times is wider when you’re driving — from 40 to 100 minutes. A big goal of this project is to make travel times more predictable.

These maps demonstrate how much of LA is reachable by transit within 60 minutes from the Van Nuys Metrolink Station or the station at the E Line – the two stations at both ends of the Sepulveda project. As you can see, all the proposed alternatives make Los Angeles feel both bigger (with more destinations via transit) and smaller (with shorter travel times) at the same time.

Ridership

This chart illustrates the number of estimated boardings by station. Stations at the end of the line and those that connect with existing and future transit lines are predicted to have the highest numbers. This data is important –– it gives us an idea of which stations might be most important to riders, how people will access our system, and why people are making trips. Comment please: Which station are you most excited about?

Last month, I had the chance to attend two (totally packed!) events in Westwood and Van Nuys to learn what community members had to say about these updates. Here are some of the topics I heard discussed:

Monorail or heavy rail? This is a question of high interest to the public. Here is what we know:

  • The monorail alternatives would travel in the middle of the 405 with stations to the side of the freeway. Alternative 3 includes an underground section between the Getty Center and Wilshire Boulevard.
  • While there aren’t many monorail projects in the United States, monorail is generally assumed to be quieter than above-ground steel-wheel rail.
  • Building above ground is usually cheaper than tunneling. However, we don’t have cost estimates finalized yet for this project.
  • Alternatives 4-6 are proposing heavy rail either fully below ground or a mix of above and below. These alternatives are faster and estimate more boardings than the monorail options.

We know that many people want us to decide what we’re going to build. We also know that there are many people interested in the various options. (Most of those who came out to the meetings were vocal supporters of heavy rail, but I met some monorail supporters too.) Our view is that even though it takes time, we owe it to everyone to vigorously study all the options. Our Board of Directors will ultimately choose an alternative and we want them to have all the data needed to make that choice.

“I’d rather have the no build option than the monorail options. They seem like a waste of money. Alternative 6 all the way!” – Ethan Becker, Urban planner, Calabasas. Photo by Adam Douglas

“I love Los Angeles, and I want it to succeed. But I don’t want it to succeed at the cost of communities. Let’s put in a beautiful monorail system that will silently whoosh by traffic on the 405. That’s the best advertisement for transit there is.” – Wayne Williams, Retired photographer and filmmaker, Sherman Oaks. Photo by India Mandelkern

A UCLA station? UCLA is one of the biggest employers in LA County, and over 70,000 people travel to campus each day, so one of the biggest groups of future riders this project stands to benefit are the people who live, work, go to school, or use the medical facilities at UCLA. Many students came to the Westwood meeting and told me it would be huge to have a station on campus. (Yes, the D/Purple Line Extension will have a Westwood stop at Wilshire, but it’s still a .5 to 1.5 mile walk to many campus locations). Four of the six alternatives (Alternatives 3, 4, 5 and 6) we’re studying include a station directly on the UCLA campus at Gateway Plaza. Alternative 1 would use an electric-powered bus to connect to campus from the monorail’s Wilshire station while Alternative 2 would use a people mover.

“I grew up in Pacoima and had to move to Westwood specifically because of the commute on the 405. it’s not sustainable for a full-time student with a job. I’m mostly excited about Alternatives 4-6 –– they’re faster and more efficient. The very prospect of having easy access to UCLA’s campus is something I never imagined growing up, and I know many from my community feel the same.”
– David Ramirez, UCLA student (Geography major). Photo by Aurelia Ventura

“Given that over 67,000 students, faculty, and staff commute to the UCLA campus on a regular basis, I’m definitely in favor of Alternatives 4-6, which are a lot faster and have a stop right on Gateway Plaza. Ridership is also projected to be a lot higher with these alternatives, and I feel safer when more people are taking transit.”
– Alice Gao, UCLA student (Applied math major). Photo by Aurelia Ventura

What about the Getty Center? The estimated boardings here aren’t projected to be very high, but the Getty is one of our region’s big attractions. Right now, the three monorail alternatives include a stop there, but none of the heavy rail options do. Should we have one? Let us know!

How are we going to pay for this huge project? At present, there is $5.7 billion in funding between Measure M and other sources — that amount will escalate with inflation when construction begins. While the cost estimates aren’t yet complete, we do plan to pursue federal funding –– something we’ve been successful with for most major projects (and the project’s high ridership estimates and travel time savings will help). Important to know: we typically apply for federal funding after the environmental review phase — when we know the alignment and mode we’d like to build.

When will construction begin? More importantly, when will this project be finished? The Measure M expenditure plan states that the project will be completed between 2033 and 2035. But we won’t have a groundbreaking date until we know what we’re building and the funding is secure. Stay tuned.

What about eminent domain? Will any alternative need to use it? This is a question that community members often ask — and for good reason. At this stage of the project, it’s too soon to tell what land we would need to acquire -– we usually need land for stations and as construction staging yards. We’ll be sharing this information when the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is released. Learn more about the way we handle property acquisitions here.

“I came today for two reasons. First, I wanted to know what Metro plans to do if they need to buy land from local property owners. If people do have to sell their properties to Metro, I want to know that Metro will pay a fair price. Second, I’m a nature lover. I love my mountains and want to keep them pristine.” – Virginia Megerdichian, Administrative assistant, North Hills. Photo by Adam Douglas

What else is going on with the I-405 Corridor? The Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project will be a game-changer when it comes to moving between the Westside and the Valley, but it’s not the only solution we’re exploring. We encourage you to check out the I-405 Sepulveda Pass ExpressLanes Project, where we’re partnering with Caltrans to consider adding dynamically priced High Occupancy Toll lanes (ExpressLanes) on the 405, and the Traffic Reduction Study (TRS), a potential pilot program that will explore how congestion pricing could reduce traffic. Check back for updates!

What now?

As we continue our environmental review, we’ll have more news to share in the coming months. That includes info on potential disruptions that the project may cause, such as changes to traffic and noise levels or impacts to paleontological, archeological, or historical resources. Our ongoing study is also looking at the benefits of the project, such as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality. When complete, we’ll release the DEIR, which will be followed by a public comment period.

We know that you have many questions about this project –– more than can be answered in this article –– and we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked ones here. But this is a living document. And your feedback is critical. So if you don’t see your question or have comments to share, we’d love it if you dropped us a line at sepulvedatransit@metro.net before December 8 so we can incorporate them into our continuing evaluation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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31 replies

  1. Monorail is a waste of time for a city with a population in the millions we need to be able to move as many people as fast as possible. The city will continue to grow we need public transit to grow with it

  2. Please no monorail. I will go with proposal 5: Arial heavy rail from MetroLink Van Nuys, goes underground at Sepulveda with stops at Sherman Way, Orange Line , Ventura BL, UCLA, Westwood + Wilshire, Santa Monica + Sepulveda, and Olympic + Sepulveda to link with Expo Line.

  3. I strongly strongly strongly support Heavy Rail over any of the Monorail options for a variety of reasons:

    – Much higher ridership numbers and a much better dollar per rider cost ratio
    – All the monorail options seem to screw over UCLA students who will likely be some of the highest riders per cohort share in the city
    – The monorail options drastically seem to be underestimating their costs and are finally admitting that APMs and other changes to station design will drastically change the costs so they are more in line with the heavy rail options which even further worsens its cost per rider estimates
    – All of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and Bel Air résidents concerns seem to be exclusively NIMBY concerns which do not represent the vast majority of the benefits that the city and its transit riders will accrue from the heavy rail options.

    Please help make Heavy Rail Sepulveda line a reality!

  4. The best option is the one that moves the most amount of people the fastest and has a stop at UCLA, has an easy transfer at Wilshire/D Line, and has room to grow in the future.

  5. Rather than a subway station being located at ‘Gateway Plaza’ on campus, a heavy rail station ought instead be located more safely on high ground and be more central/accessible to instructional activites. Sports attendees and medical outpatients are cimparatively infrequent users as opposed to the daily needs of students, instructors and administrators. Gateway Plaza is way peripheral to north campus. A station at Portola Plaza would be much more central and be protected from flooding out of Stone Canyoun due to Climate Change.

  6. Clearly the population wants the heavy rail option, which provides the best and most legitimate form of transportation. Its so critical that this project is completed and done right.o

    • My local bus line used to go there and no one used it so they killed it. It would hardly get any use and wouldn’t be worth the cost.

    • Actually, the ridership projection does not say so. It will be better served with a shuttle. Sorry! Numbers and logic speak louder. We need heavy rail only!

  7. The Wilshire/Westwood station will need to have two levels, in order to provide easy transfers between the east/west D line and the new north/south line, whatever it is. That’s the way 7th/Metro works, now that the Regional Connector is open, and this station should work the same way. It would not be good to have two separate subway stations with a walk between them.

    But the Westwood station must be pretty far along in the design process, or maybe the design is actually complete. My question is: has this been addressed, or is it too late and we will be stuck with two unconnected stations. Compare this to the transfer between the E and K lines at Crenshaw and Exposition: two adjacent light-rail stations a block apart, instead of the K line underground station being built directly beneath the E line surface station, with transfer via escalator/elevator .

    • This is a very good point! Metro, don’t overlook this! There is still time to address this! Of course, this one of many reasons to build the line as heavy rail instead of monorail as the transfers between the D line and the latter are almost guaranteed to be much more of a hassle than subway to subway transfers of the same mode. Ridership will suffer if transfers aren’t simple like they are at 7th st.

  8. Like to see a bigger version of those maps so i can read the details about the termination points and connection.
    The pdfs up there now pixelate and you can read the fine print. .

  9. HEAVY RAIL IS THE ONLY REAL SOLUTION!!! Please get rid of all monorail option the people who will actually use the line DO NOT WANT MONORAIL. The majority of the people want heavy rail and the direct UCLA connection. LA deserves real world class transit that we can expand on in the future. Once again NO MONORAILS. The Getty would be better served by a direct shuttle bus from one of the stations. HEAVY RAIL WILL IMPROVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES FOR GENERATIONS.

  10. Any of the heavy rail alternatives, please. All non-heavy rail subway projects are a real drag – the lower top speeds and lower passenger capacity make for a worse overall transit experience.

    A UCLA stop is absolutely vital, and I’d personally like a Getty stop, but that’s certainly not necessary for Phase I.

  11. Please no monorail. If Metro wants to seriously function as a reliable, effective, and efficient mass transit system monorail should not be part of the consideration. No one wants to freeway median stations- only those that have never and will never ride public transit see these types of stations as a solution. Working class people want heavy rail, while multimillionaires that spew hateful and dog-whistle rhetoric want monorail as a way to delay or kill the project entirely. We are not Disneyland. We deserve real public transit solutions.

  12. No to monorail. Heavy rail may provide logistics and maintenance commonality to existing lines and greater carrying capacity for special events and future growth. UCLA absolutely needs station access and will boost ridership. Ideally the Getty Center has a stop but if not possible, a dedicated shuttle bus or existing Getty monorail extension to the line could be a compromise. Like option 4 or 5 because they increase system access at the northern end.

  13. It’s sad that monorail is still an option when Heavy Rail is the only reasonable choice. “Silently wooshing past” a freeway is pretty pointless when the freeway is constant noise 24/7. It’ll be handicapping the system for no benefit.

    Needs a stop at UCLA too. As much as I’d like a direct access route to The Getty that seems pretty out of the way and unnecessary when there could just be a shuttle of sorts.

  14. Heavy rail options are definitely the best investments, the monorail is nowhere near as efficient or useful. It’d be amazing to get a transit stop at the Getty, but if its a choice between heavy rail and a Getty stop, heavy rail absolutely wins out.

  15. Keep pounding the drum. Stop spending needless time and money on the monorail. Expedite Options #4 or 5 with the all important UCLA in campus stop. Why does everything take so long to plan, let alone build? The tunnels got done under Beverly Hills High and the school did not fall down. Do not let the Sepulveda Pass tunnels get delayed by this same issue again.

    • Seriously its a disservice to thousands and the population as a whole. LA has the money, this project should be priority.

  16. Definitely include a rail stop at the Getty. We have millions of foreign visitors every year and the Getty is an important destination for many of them; I would appreciate it myself. When I ride the bus to visit the Getty, I often encounter people from around the world who are trying to visit the Getty and are very confused as to how to get there. Metro needs to be more friendly and convenient for foreign visitors, many of whom are used to mass transit systems in their home countries and don’t want to drive around L.A. I have family and friends in Europe who don’t drive at all and when they visit L.A., Metro doesn’t always make it easy for them.

    • That’s why heavy rail + a direct easy to use shuttle is a great option! Foreign tourists will laugh at our stupidity if we have a horrible monorail and not standard heavy rail.

    • It’s not that I don’t disagree, but it will be the stop with the lowest ridership in the ENTIRE LINE.

      Why? Because what else is around the Getty Center? The Leo Baeck Temple?

      The Getty Center closes on Monday, 8:30pm Saturdays and 5:30pm other days.

      So ask yourself this, Does it make sense to build and operate a station that no one else will use after 8pm? This is especially considering people are advocating for a 24 hour system.

      That is something that no one really seems to think about. Bel Air residents are already dead set against this line, I heavily doubt they’ll welcome transit oriented development to support further use of such a station beyond just a bunch a tourist that will quickly disappear after business hours.

      • So what? Does a rail stop have to be used 24/7? Is every bus stop used 24/7? The point is to have a transit system that gets you to where you want to go, when you want to go. Bel Air residents? Are there any who live there more than a few weeks a year? Who take Metro?

        • You are kind of proving the point here aren’t you. Are the numbers actually there? How many people actually visit Getty Center every year?

          And yes, while all stations won’t be used 24/7, they do need to be used at least 15/7. Just look at the Blue Line, Red Line and Expo Line stations. All those stations were still utilized even after midnight when Metro ran late night service.

          Again, you are willing to throw away tax dollars just for one and only destination that not even by Metro’s metric would justify throwing around $350 Million MAX for a subway station that will be utilized 10 hours a day MAX?

          Now a station say, next to Griffith observatory actually makes more sense. The observatory is open late, the Greek Amphitheater is nearby that sees events quite often, people in Los Feliz are more open to the idea of transit, and both bus ridership feeding from the red line, foot traffic and vehicle traffic to actually warrant a station there.

          To use someone else’s words: “Actually, the ridership projection does not say so. It will be better served with a shuttle. Sorry! Numbers and logic speak louder.”

  17. but I met some monorail supporters too. – . . . I don’t have nice words to say about this so I’ll just reserve judgement.

    That being said, option #6 please. People will say “well, it’s only 3 min” and to that I say, my train was 1 min late this evening and as a result I got home 15 min later than expected because of the missed transfer

    “Check your privilege bro” – Yeah I did and I don’t drive full time, that isn’t an excuse to justify any reason to sacrifice time for money either.

    But yeah, I’ll still take option 4 and 5 over the monorail that Metro clearly won’t stop getting compassionated to keep on the table. Ball is your court, Metro. Meeting “a few” fans of the monorail isn’t enough to ignore the fact that multiple citizens and ORGANIZATIONS ARE DEAD SET AGAINST THE MONORAIL!! When even Caltrans doesn’t this on their property, you already know you lost.

  18. There are thousands of UCLA students, faculty, and staff who would benefit from options 4–6. We need a subway for this project, a monorail on the 405 would unnecessarily add a difficulty for the commuters who need the subway

  19. SUBWAY ONLY – drop monorail
    Total time is NOT as big and issue as disruptions to traffic, and Equake safety and underground is always better that elevated or surface. MTA should not build anything that is not subway.