To my mind, at least for symbolism, in the near term the Wilshire bus lane project (Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] Corridor) is the most significant transit-related project in our region (along with the parallel effort in San Bernardino County known as sbX.) Upgrading bus service along Wilshire is an idea that has been floating around for decades as I outlined in a previous post.
Late last year a Los Angeles city staff report gave the timetable for completing the project as 2015. When I investigated why such a long period was needed to do the project, L.A. city staff explained the complexity of the project precluded it happening any faster. In a follow-up The Source reported “In more recent discussions with the city, [LADOT] now believe they may be able to have it completed by the end of 2014.”
And in a new Metro staff presentation made at the Westside/Central Service Council this month that timetable appears to be holding up: “Estimated project completion late 2014.”
It also states “Project proposed to open in segments with the first segment between S. Park View Street and Western Avenue scheduled to open in mid 2013.” Especially illuminating is a map that graphically depicts proposed completion dates for the various phases. 2 1/2 years until the bulk of the project is ready is a hell of a long wait, but at least it is making progress. Lord knows there were periods in the past when I despaired of it ever coming off.
The symbolism I spoke of in the opening is this project moves us beyond the lip service often paid to the importance of transit to the future of the region. Allocating during peak hours lanes along one of the leading Boulevards of the largest city in Southern California sends the message we are getting serious about the need to reorient our transportation network toward mass transit. Also it is a test bed to address the worries of traffic engineers that bus lanes cause an unacceptable level of disruption to mixed flow traffic movement. When the sky doesn’t fall after the lanes become operational we can begin a dialogue about having similar lanes on other major arterials.