2010 Will Be a Busy Year for Transit Advocates in Los Angeles

1_21_10_eastside.jpgExpect to see some hard hats along the Expo Line as other transit projects move through the study phase.  Photo: LA Streetsblog/Flickr

While our headlines and calendar sections are full of news and meetings about transit cuts happening all over the map of L.A. County, thanks to the passage of Measure R, there's also going to be a lot of meetings about expansion. While I'm not saying that advocates shouldn't fight to protect their favorite bus lines, be they Metro, DASH, or Big Blue Bus, sometimes it's nice to remember that things aren't all bad.

Of course, while finalizing studies are nice, the highlight of the year will most likely be the opening of Phase I of the Expo Line sometime this summer, or perhaps this fall if we follow the Gold Line's Eastside Extension's schedule.  Of course, its not just the opening that people are looking forward to, but the Expo Line Safety Ride sponsored by Streetsblog in a similar manner to what we did with the Eastside Extension.  It could be worth it just to see if I can get Damien Goodmon to join us on a bicycle.

As for Phase II, certification of the Final Environmental Impact Statement is expected this winter, and construction could begin as early as this summer.  Of course, the FEIR includes provisions about a bike path, so don't think you're getting the year off cycling advocates.

In South L.A., we can expect a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Crenshaw Line, but of course there's some controversy. Once Metro chose rail over Bus Rapid Transit for the corridor, only part of the controversy was solved. Some local activists are pushing for more stops and track to run below grade than is currently called for in the plans, but Supervisor/Metro Board Member Mark Ridley-Thomas has insured that the costs and advantages of "at grade" versus "below grade" are studied in the environmental documents.

On the Eastside, planning to extend the Gold Line Eastside Extension farther east will begin their environmental reviews. Expect the ridership numbers of the current extension to be bandied about as advocates for the second extension battle a preception that ridership estimates don't justify the costs.

Advocates and opponents for the Westside Extension and Regional Connector will get updates on the projects in the Spring. One of the big questions that remains for the Connector is whether or not the new "Little Tokyo Friendly" alignment is selected or if the strong community opposition to the project continues.  Rumor is that the finalized studies might have to wait until 2011, due in part to the Metro Board's inability to pass the 2008 Long Range Transportation Plan until the 2010 fiscal year. However, with some luck both projects could finish their environmental review this year.

April could also see the release of draft documents for the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit studies. Because the project is somewhat smaller than the rail projects, the studies could actually be completed this summer. Just because visitors from other towns already love Metro's Rapid Buses along the corridor doesn't mean they couldn't use an upgrade. And remember, cyclists, those bus only lanes are "bike ok."

While it may seem like Metro is waiting to pounce with a full docket of meetings in April and October, they are expecting to get working on the Draft Environmental Documents for the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor sometime earlier this Spring.

As for the controversial Gold Line Foothill Extension, one consultant for the project joked to me that "they are selling shovels at OSH" to get the project underway. While I of course encourage you to stay tuned to Streetsblog for updates on all of these projects, I can't compete with I Will Ride on coverage of the Foothill Extension.

Needless to say, April will be transit meeting hell, or heaven depending your point of view, with a likely to repeat in October.