At press conference this morning, city leaders announced greatly enhanced DASH service connecting Griffith Observatory with the Metro Red Line Vermont/Sunset Station.
Starting next week, the LADOT DASH Observatory Shuttle service will run seven days per week, from noon to 10 p.m weekdays and from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. on weekends. During that time, buses arrive every 20 minutes. DASH fare is 50 cents in cash, or 35 cents if paid by TAP card. In the recent past, DASH service was limited to weekends.
The DASH improvements are part of the Department of Recreation and Parks (DRP) Griffith Park circulation plan which aims to cut car congestion in L.A.’s largest and arguably most beloved park. The plan has undergone modifications since it was unveiled in an initial public meeting in early 2016.
DASH service is being funded by new parking revenue. DRP recently installed parking meters at Griffith Observatory and adjacent Observatory Road. These are the first parking meters in the park, though paid parking has long been the norm for park attractions including the Zoo and Greek Theater. Starting Tuesday March 21, drivers will pay $4 per hour for parking at the observatory. Past free parking in this area has contributed to excessive cruising for free spaces and often-onerous traffic congestion which sometimes caused staff to close park roads and turn drivers away.
The latest version of the circulation plan was championed by several community groups and individuals. Prominent amonth these is cycling activist Don Ward, who formed the group Keep Griffith Wild in opposition to an early Recreation and Parks Department proposal that included opening currently car-free park back-roads.
Paid parking, enhanced DASH, and preserved car-free roads all represent great steps forward for Griffith Park and for urban livability. Indeed, if managed well, paid parking should prove to be an effective surrogate for congestion pricing, a proven solution for managing traffic.
Unfortunately, the struggles for park access do not appear to be over. Hillside homeowners threatened to derail this Griffith Park shuttle plan. Earlier this week, DRP announced that it will be closing Beachwood Canyon access to the Griffith Park trail to the Hollywood Sign, due to a lawsuit brought by well-off Beachwood homeowners. It looks likely that L.A. leadership will need to continue to pursue more equitable park access while rich neighbors push against it.