Sneak Peak at Subway to the Sea Alternatives (Updated)

(Update: Darell Clarke has "official" higher resolution images of the alternatives at his personal blog LA Vision

The Daily News reported this morning that Metro has narrowed the list of alternative routes for the Red Line extension known as the Subway to the Sea from 17 in February to 4 that will be unveiled at public meetings starting tonight at 6 P.M.

The piece in the Daily News wasn’t just about potential routes, it also came with a warning. Without a new funding source, Metro doesn’t have the funds to build a $6.5 billion subway project.

Although the largest portion of Metro’s $3 billion budget – about $1.8 billion – comes from a one-cent sales tax, that money cannot be contributed toward tunneling for any subway because of a 1998 ban that was passed by 70 percent of voters.

Even if that prohibition were repealed, money from the sales tax is already committed to other projects on Metro’s long-range transit plans through 2030, Litvak said.

While Metro hasn’t put their most recent presentation online just yet, thanks to the descriptions in the Daily News article, I was able to go through past presentations to get the maps for each of the potential routes. The four alternative routes are available for viewing after the jump.

One proposal would put a subway almost entirely under Wilshire Boulevard from the Purple Line at Wilshire and Western Avenue to the Pacific Ocean.

It would swing around Century City, where thousands of daily passenger boardings could rival Union Station, said Jody Litvak, Metro’s regional community-relations manager.

Another plan also would pick up from the Purple Line and travel under Wilshire Boulevard. But then it would head north on Fairfax Avenue and west Beverly Drive to serve the Grove, Beverly Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. After leaving the hospital, it would return to Wilshire Boulevard, hit Century City and head to the coast.


Two more subway plans include variations of the Wilshire Boulevard routes but also would involve a second train coming from the Red Line at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue and zipping below Santa Monica Boulevard to serve West Hollywood. The lines would converge on Wilshire Boulevard and head to the sea.



All Images: Metro

  • Wonderful.

    I actually like a mixture of options 3 and 4.

    I’d take the Santa Monica Blvd. line that loops from Santa Monica/San Vicente down to Wilshire, and then the Wilshire based alignment.

  • Damien — Not bad. The maps have changed somewhat on the remaining alternatives. You’ll see them tonight and should be up on the study website soon.

  • Of the finalists alignments for the Westside Transit Corridor Extension, there is every reason to celebrate. Two of the maps include a Santa Monica Blvd. alignment (which advocates have nicknamed “The Pink Line”.) If one of these is chosen, and is built as rail, it can be extended on the southern end to Expo or even potentially LAX. On the northeast end, it can be extended to Silver Lake and then downtown.

    So pick the Wilshire alignment of your choice and let the MTA know you want the Santa Monica Blvd. line included in the final proposal!

    The one downside of these finalists is that this means there will not be a one-seat ride from the Valley to the Westside via Santa Monica Blvd. I really hope there has been sufficient support shown for a Sepulveda LRT going to/from LAX to/from Metrolink in the Valley to make it into the Long Range Transportation Plan. Countless people who are snaking through passes and canyons every day deserve a quality public transit alternative.

    But ask your friends to show their support for the Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. proposals by attending one of the MTA forums or sending the MTA a message today!

  • I attended the meeting at LACMA. While Santa Monica Bl./Wilshire combined draws more ridership it is at much higher per boarding cost. And yer deviations to 3rd/Fairfax and La Cienega/Beverly gets ridership but I prefer Aletrnative 1–straight down Wilshire to the sea with on deviation to serve Century City.

    Next we need to work to pass the extra 1/2% sales tax for this and other big projects (AB 2321)

  • “While Santa Monica Bl./Wilshire combined draws more ridership it is at much higher per boarding cost.”


    True in the short term, but over time, with two million more people scheduled to migrate to Los Angeles County over the next two decades, those per boarding costs will decline with the inevitably increased density.

  • Transit Planner

    I doubt that many of those 2 million new residents are going to be living on the Westside! Who can afford to live in that enclave ?

    With the new move to limit commercial development on the Westside, and the growth of other areas such as Downtown, they may not even be working there either. Maybe Westsiders will be commuting to the Eastside and the Valley on the subway ?

  • “With the new move to limit commercial development on the Westside, and the growth of other areas such as Downtown, they may not even be working there either.”

    That the Westside is increasingly a job center is well known and reported again today in the Los Angeles Times. The movement to limit commercial development hasn’t even started, and existing capacity hasn’t even been met yet. The beauty of the Purple Line is that there are many people traveling westbound from the east, not just eastbound from the west.

  • Darrell

    I posted the four Westside Extension subway alternatives maps here.

    Also see Metro’s images of monorail above Wilshire at Fairfax here.

  • Darrell

    I posted the four Westside Extension subway alternatives maps at .

    Also see Metro’s images of monorail above Wilshire at Fairfax at .

  • Even with option one or two, we could still have a one-seat ride from the Westside to the Valley.

    All we would need is to build a connection at the Wilshire/Vermont station, so that eastbound trains could make a left turn and go up Vermont, or westbound trains could make a right turn and go down Wilshire.

    Building this connection would be much cheaper than building a subway under Santa Monica Blvd and would only add a few minutes to a potential all-subway commute from, say, North Hollywood to Santa Monica.

    We could assign this routing another color, the Brown Line, or whatever.

  • That’s actually a smart idea, Scott.

    From an engineering perspective, it might be tricky and require the Vermont station to be bypassed.

    However, that’s not a reason not to build the Pink Line under Alternatives #11 or #16.

  • Sameer

    We definitely need both a Santa Monica Boulevard line and a Wilshire Boulevard line east of Westwood. Hopefully Metro will be able to build them both eventually.

    I’m surprised Metro dropped the idea of a station in the West LA area. Granted, they have a dot on Bundy there, but it’s the area around Sawtelle, Barrington, and Federal Avenues and Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards that has incredibly high commercial and residential density, and the adjacent Veterans’ Administration and Hospital are major destinations. Four Blue Bus lines (1, 2, 3, 4) and four Metro bus lines (4, 20, 704, 720) currently serve this neighborhood, and the place is still ridiculously congested. West LA really needs a subway station!

  • It’s also possible to construct Alternative #11 or #16 as a “Circle Line”, similar to the Circle Line in London.

  • Wad

    We definitely need both a Santa Monica Boulevard line and a Wilshire Boulevard line east of Westwood. Hopefully Metro will be able to build them both eventually.

    I’ve told Dan this.

    The best thing to do now is to build the Santa Monica leg last, and build West Hollywood after the Wilshire extension.

    Santa Monica will have a downtown connection into downtown with the Expo Line. With the subway, that will be two services designed to do the same thing.

    Santa Monica will have two rail lines while West Hollywood will have none.

    The West Hollywood extension has better network effects. You will have more riders overall by adding WeHo to the existing subway grid.

    As for Wilshire, the advantages for the subway begin to diminish west of the 405. The crush loads are east of Westwood Boulevard. West of the 405, the Expo Line veers north past Pico and Olympic, and the farther west it goes the closer it gets to Wilshire. At Bundy, Wilshire is only a 5 minute bus ride. Within Santa Monica city limits, Wilshire is close to a 10 minute walk. Near the ocean, Wilshire is about four blocks.

    The length of the subway between Century City and Santa Monica is about the same as a Red Line extension through West Hollywood. The difference, though, is that West Hollywood will produce higher overall ridership than Wilshire from Century City to Santa Monica.

  • Don’t just tell me, tell the MTA. :) (which I’m sure you’ve already done.

  • I’d like to toss something else in, based on comments I have made at the public meetings.

    The reason for not reconstructing stations to provide new through-branches is that every time you branch a line, you force a halving of service levels on each branch. This already happens at Wilshire/Vermont, where half the trains operate the Red Line branch to North Hollywood and half the trains operate the Purple Line branch to Wilshire/Western. It was pointed out that if you branched the Santa Monica line off at Hollywood/Highland, you would result in only 25% of all service going to North Hollywood and 25% of all service going to West Hollywood. Neither of those are acceptable, so — in order to maintain decent service levels — the Santa Monica line will need to be a separate line, with a cross-platform transfer at Hollywood/Highland.

    But the same logic applies if you branch at Wilshire/La Cienega, because you then have the same unacceptable 25% service level through West Hollywood, and (even worse) a 25% service level on Wilshire between La Cienega and Vermont.

    By that logic, it makes more sense to have the Santa Monica-La Cienega route be an entirely separate line, with a cross-platform transfer at Wilshire/La Cienega … and the potential to continue that line south to connect with the Expo and Crenshaw lines, and make a Hollywood-to-LAX connection possible.

  • David Fitzpatrick

    I just hope they build this line while I’m still(57 years old) alive. I live way out in Anaheim and I’m too afraid to drive on the so-called freeways because of seatbelt laws and road rage. This line combined with a trip on Amtrak/Metrolink would make it easier for me to visit my pianist friend out in Venice.

  • Joe

    I like the idea of a circle line between the Cedars-Sinai stop, Hollywood/Highland, Vermont/Sunset, Wilshire/Vermont, going back to Cedars-Sinai stop. You could transfer to the Purple Line @ Cedars-Sinai, the Red line (to go to North Hollywood) @ Hollywood/Highland, with another Purple Line connection @ Wilshire/Vermont.

  • jayboydog

    i suggest a santa monica blvd route through west hollywood extend east to santa monica/vermont.

  • greg

    Kymberleigh has a good point: branching the lines mid-system instead of at the ends puts less service exactly where it’s least welcome. A third, contained “circle line” could address this shortfall somewhat, depending upon commuting patterns. Or, to embellish her preference somewhat – the Santa Monica Boulevard line could be the mid-section an independent NS line, joining to a continuation the Crenshaw corridor up Fairfax on the bottom, and a jog out to Glendale on the top.


Metro’s $40 Billion Plan

Metro’s Plans Are Big on Expansion, Not So Big on Increasing Bike/Ped. Access to Their Stations Before Metro can place a half cent sales tax increase on the fall ballot, it needs to tell us how it’s going to spend the $40 billion the increase would raise over the next thirty years.  At last week’s […]

Zev Reader Questionnaire Part 1: Metro and Transit

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s answers to our reader questionnaire were so detailed that we decided to break the questions in to two parts.  There is just so much to chew on in this section, such as Zev’s views on the Westside Subway Station Debate, the importance of a subway and the future of the I-405 Transit Corridor. […]

Metro’s North 710 Freeway Tunnel Study Meetings in High Gear, Pasadena Working Group Offers Brainy Alternatives

Smart people live in Pasadena. Some of them work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and send probes to Mars. Others spend their days figuring out quantum mechanics at Caltech. And still others dabble in transportation. A study group formed by Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard and its City Manager has a smart idea in response to L.A. Metro’s study to link […]