Dana Gabbard: Why My Community Is the Best for Transit

6_23_09_tut_bus.jpgThe Tut Bus in front of the LACMA. Photo: The Metro Library

(Editor’s Note: This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of residents defending their community as the best for car-free living in Los Angeles.  Make your submissions to damien@streetsblog.org.  For more information on the series, visit yesterday’s story.)

I am a resident of the Wilshire corridor (especially the stretch from
Alvarado to Fairfax). I live, work and do most of my living along that
famous boulevard. And do so easily sans car. Wilshire is lined with
places to eat, nightspots, markets, medical offices, famous museums,
etc. Apartment complexes cluster in the Miracle Mile, Wilshire Center,
Westlake, etc.

Daytime you have frequent local public transit service from Metro (Line
20–downtown L.A. to Westwood Bl.) and Big Blue Bus (Line 2–Westwood
Blvd. to downtown Santa Monica). Overnight line 20 serves the entire
street (16 miles!) with owl service that operates on a 30 minute
headway! Plus you have the Rapid 720 and during weekday peak the Super
Express 920 for key linkages and long-distance travel. Western Ave. to
downtown L.A. is also served by the Metro subway. Several neighborhoods
(Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Pico/Union) have DASH community circulators.
And via various connections you have access to the web of Rapid, busway
and Metro Rail services that criss-cross the County plus Metrolink and
Amtrak for regional access and beyond. It can be mindboggling when you
understand how transit access along Wilshire works and how to make use
of it.

It is a diverse community, with many areas very livable–going along
Wilshire you’ll spot people walking to local businesses and nightspots.
You also see people biking along the street fairly often.

Here is an example based on my experience on the day I wrote this: From
my apartment this morning I walked a block and a half to a bus stop and
caught a westbound Line 20 bus to work. A the end of the workday I
walked a block to the Private Mailbox location I get my mail at and
picked up the latest batch of transit agency agendas etc. to hit 3010
Wilshire #362. I crossed the street and minutes later boarded a line 20
bus westbound to Fairfax. Walked to my allergy doctor’s office to get
my shot. Afterward walked to a nearby bus stop, caught a line 20 bus
eastbound after a few minutes and disembarked in mid-Miracle Mile to
have dinner at an excellent Indian restaurant I started frequenting a
few months ago. After my repast it was only steps to a bus stop where I
caught another eastbound line 20, which carried me to the cyber cafe at
Wilshire/Normandie where I am writing this. Right outside it is the bus
stop where I will catch the bus that carries me home.

So I would nominate the Wilshire corridor mid-city segment as the most public transit friendly neighborhood in L.A.

  • Great testimony to a great area. Love the picture too. The picture looks like it’s from the 70’s when King Tut first rolled into town. Love the series idea! I hope to submit soon.

  • Hear! Hear! Wilshire corridor is super transit friendly. Can’t wait to hear what other car free Angelenos have to say! And of course, work on my own submission reppin’ the Eastside. :)

  • Sirinya

    I love this entry! My dream is to hunker down off Wilshire Boulevard, within proximity of a future subway stop. Thanks, Dana!

  • I wrote a “LA Transit Guide for Newbies” a few days ago… it has kind of the same general tone as Dana’s blog entry. Allow me to share:

    http://irwinc.blogspot.com/2009/06/find-your-way-around-la-guide-for.html

  • Joel Ramos

    Isn’t this the corridor where BRU is advocating for a Bus Only Lane? Does traffic ever so bad there that it would help improve reliability and reduce travel time?

  • Curvie Hawkins

    Tell the Transit Industry what you think!
    A survey to determine the opinions, concerns and wishes of young adults and teens (16-25 year-olds) towards public transportation and future transit use.

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=SXANzMR34XwSLj4R5_2bNINQ_3d_3d

    The information & responses provided will be used to assist transit agencies in understanding public transportation demands of the Next Generation of transit user.
    Comments? ridership2009@yahoo.com

  • Wad

    Joel Ramos wrote:

    Isn’t this the corridor where BRU is advocating for a Bus Only Lane? Does traffic ever so bad there that it would help improve reliability and reduce travel time?

    Whatever the BRU’s position is, basic rationality dictates you take the opposite position. That’s been talked to death, though. Expounding on it gives the illusion that the BRU is relevant.

    For the second part of the question: Yes, Metro is planning “bus-only” lanes for Wilshire Boulevard. As for the second question: Metro makes the case that bus only lanes will improve reliability and travel time.

    Travel time would be improved, but by how much remains to be seen. Will bus lanes make Wilshire more reliable? Highly doubtful.

    Here are a few problems:
    1. When Metro opened the Orange Line in 2005, it has maintained that at just 20,000 daily boardings, it has been over capacity since Day 1. And the Orange Line is as ideal bus rapid transit as it comes. It doesn’t have to fight traffic and boarding is relatively fast. Yet for all the expense of building the Orange Line, you get service that tops out at somewhere beneath 20,000 boardings.

    This pretty much means that BRT is inappropriate for the very high ridership of Los Angeles.

    It certainly would be inappropriate for the 720 corridor, which has around 70,000 boardings and has to contend with parallel and intersecting traffic.

    It also calls for something to be done about the couple dozen or so local bus corridors that have higher ridership than the Orange Line.

    2. The “bus-only” lanes will have too many bottlenecks. For one thing, L.A. defines “buses only” as including cars that need to turn right. So, buses cannot advance while cars have to wait for pedestrians to clear. Next you will likely have the city of L.A. seeking dispensations for taxis. Then, you’ll have lane intruders, such as scofflaw cars who’ll try to sneak by when the cops or the Tiger Team isn’t looking or even cars who’ll just pull in to pick up or drop off someone.

    And I’ll now give the lectern over to Streetsblog’s bicycle community as to whether cyclists will assert their rights to “bus only” lanes.

    3. The issue of three incompatible classes of service has not been resolved. Wilshire has local (20), Rapid (720), and Rapid Rapid (920) buses. How will leapfrogging be handled? Probably by merging into traffic lanes, but …

    4. Taking away two lanes of traffic doesn’t reduce congestion; it merely displaces it. Whatever car traffic that doesn’t have to take Wilshire will migrate to another street. This slows down all of the buses parallel to and intersecting with Wilshire. And for the remaining lanes, that already move glacially with no separate space for buses, they are somehow going to have to absorb the traffic of one lane. You can pretty much rule out leapfrogging.

    5. If you build bus only lanes, they will come. But you really do not want to encourage more people to ride buses where too many people are riding now.

  • Erik G.

    A couple of other Wilshire corridor services:

    The newish FlyAway bus from Westwood to LLAX

    The even newer AmtrakCalifornia bus from Westwood to Van Nuys train station connecting to northbound Surfliners going to Santa Barbara.

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