Gov. Gives Money for Wilshire Bus Only Lanes

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Last summer, the City Council approved it and today the Governor funded it.

The long-rumored bus-only lane for Wilshire Boulevard, connecting the downtown to Santa Monica, took a major step towards construction earlier today when Govenror Schwarzenegger allocated $5 million of Proposition 1B funds towards its completion.  The Governor’s grant joins the $10.9 million allocated in President Bush’s transportation budget for FY09 for the project.  Combuned, the two grants would cover over half of the $30 million needed to complete the Bus Only Lane.  Construction of the bus only lane will not be completed until 2009 at the earliest, but today’s action signals that the plan has the support of key policy makers.  Congress has yet to approve the president’s budget.

In a brief conversation between Streetsblog and Metro Spokesperson Marc Littman, Littman expressed thanks for the governor’s support but cautioned that the project isn’t fully funded yet.  Metro expects to receive more federal funds over the next year, but not enough to move the project into construction without more funding from either the state or another local source.

While the idea of a bus only lane on Wilshier just gained city approval last year, the project has been a top priority for Metro for years. In 2004, Metro ran a "bus-only demonstration" on Wilshire to show the time savings buses could expect.  In the fall of 2007 a one-mile bus-only lane along Wilshire Boulevard between San Vicente and Bundy Blvd. operated for three years until the city asked for it to be closed until funding for a longer bus-only lane could be built.

In total, the Governor Schwarzenegger announced $394 million in statewide grants funded by the Proposition 1B, a $20 billion bond program passed by voters in 2006. Los Angeles County received $171 million and Orange County received $25.2 million in this year’s funding. Besides the bus-only lane, Proposition 1B funds will be used in Los Angeles County to help fund the Expo line ($73.5 million totoal for both phases), to purchase new buses ($95 million) and to rehab some older buses ($27.5 million.)

To read the Governor’s press release or watch the press conference announcing the grants click here.

Image:The Bergen Network

  • Radical Transportation Engineer

    I believe I posted a comment on this very subject last week on streetheat, do you still have that to link to? No point in me repeating myself. In short, it’s about time a project like this got funding. The project is vital to the area and will truly encourage use of transit in that area. I’m sure some people think, “Why use the bus on Wilshire if you are sitting in the same traffic that the cars are?” I think this is a great step in the right direction, as long as they actually enforce it, unlike the HOV lanes.

  • Damien Newton

    I remembered that comment and dug it up for you.

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2008/02/28/todays-headlines-26/#comment-228

    I haven’t seen you in awhile, I was worried you were waiting for an update back at Street Heat.

  • Radical Transportation Engineer

    No worries, I’ve just been busy, but followed you here to LA streetsblog (though I do miss the brown background). I wouldn’t miss out on this. Yours is one of the most insightful blogs in this city, writing about transportation as a whole and how it, in all its forms, affect every aspect of people’s lives, let alone the environment. Keep up the good work!

  • It is so infuriating that the MTA considers automobile trips (which are primarily single-occupant) to be more important that their own buses. That press release you linked to says it all to me:

    “The 13-block stretch of Wilshire Boulevard was chosen, in part, because limiting curbside lanes to buses during peak hours would not adversely impact automobiles, which currently do not operate in those lanes. In fact, Metro planners expect automobile drivers to experience a smoother and safer traffic flow because buses will operate in their own dedicated lane except when needing to pass local service buses in operation or other vehicles illegally parked in the curbside lane.”

  • ubrayj02 complains “It is so infuriating that the MTA considers automobile trips (which are primarily single-occupant) to be more important that their own buses.”

    Or that it more often gives auto directions to its meetings than which bus serves the location. But MTA is just reflecting the widely held perception of our region being auto-centric. It is the slow change in that which is making the difference (albeit at a glacial pace).

    As someone who lives, works and shops along Wilshire I welcome this change, which prioritizes moving people over moving vehicles.

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