Labor Day Homework: Play the Tom LaBonge Transit Game

Curbed makes the Tom LaBonge Transit Map based on his op/ed in yesterday's Daily News
Curbed makes the Tom LaBonge Transit Map based on his op/ed in yesterday's Daily News

Yesterday, the Daily News printed an odd opinion piece by 4th District City Councilman Tom LaBonge which outlined his views on how Metro should grow Los Angeles’ rail system in the coming years.  I say “odd” because the former Metro Board Member has to know that Measure R transit funds have to be spent on the projects listed in the ballot initiative passed in 2008, and it’s unlikely the agency is going to raise the funds for anymore transit projects in the near future.

Nevertheless, LaBonge does have some interesting ideas, such as monorail service to the Hollywood Bowl, an extension of the Red Line to the Valley and an extension of the Purple Line down to USC.  In fact, most of LaBonge’s article is about extending service to major trip attractors that are under served by transit.

So your homework assignment for the weekend is to assume you have a magic transit wand and could make any one change to our system, as it stands or post Measure R, and post it in the comments section.  On Monday, we’ll take a vote on which of the top suggestions is the best.  The overall winner gets a Streetsblog t-shirt!  Incidently, unless the Mayor breaks his arm trying to catch a train, that will be the only posting here until Tuesday morning.

Happy Labor Day!

  • Carter R

    I’ll disqualify myself from the competition, but I’ll throw my idea out there anyways:

    A chair lift to the Hollywood sign.

  • I’ll disqualify myself too but in the spirit of this assignment, I suggest a Labonge-like transit idea: Massive West Side Sling Shot. It can be aimed towards Hollywood, Downtown, or LAX. Now we just need to build the landing trampolines.

  • Connecting Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley with rail transit is a very exciting idea. We’ll have to get around to it eventually if we really want a world-class system.

  • Monorail to Shlebyville.

  • Monorail to Shelbyvllle.

  • Scott Mercer

    As I commented on the original article, a connection to the Hollywood Bowl would be much cheaper than building some sort of other subway line or (heaven save us) a monorail.

    You just need to build an infill station along the red line, about 1/2 mile to a mile north of the Hollywood/Highland station. (Not sure of exact distance). From there, you just need to construct an underground passageway, with moving walkways like in airports. Totally underground, and would emerge at the surface right at the entrance to the Bowl.

    I think I got out the map and measured it once. I recall it was about 2500 feet (1/2 mile). Much shorter walk than currently from the H/H station, which I believe is a shade over one mile.

    This station and passageway could be in operation ONLY during shows at the Bowl, three hours prior and after any show.

    This might sound like a waste of money to some people, to build a station for such limited usage, but it isn’t. Having lived in that neighborhood for five years, believe me, it would be worth it to have at least 50% of the Bowl audience take the subway to get there. The decrease in traffic would be HUGE. Maybe the Bowl could offer a rebate on the ticket price if you present your Red Line ticket or transit pass, making the ride effectively free.

  • LaBonge has been really supportive of 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard – for the cost of 1/1000th of a rail line, we could build 4SBB and buy everyone within a few miles of it a nice bicycle. (Back of the napkin calculation – don’t hold me to it)

    Did I win????

  • mandor

    Having spent hours of my life waiting to cross the intersection of Sunset/Virgil/Hollywood/Hillhurst, I’ve had time to envision a multi-pronged pedestrian bridge to carry me over the traffic safely. I haven’t figured out how to make it wheelchair accessible yet, so I’m open to ideas on that part. Ideally the bridge would look like some sort of awesome insect.

  • Matthew

    East-West streetcars on Hollywood Blvd., Santa Monica, Melrose, Olympic, Pico, etc. North-South on Vermont, Western, Vine, Highland, etc. Build them East to West block-by-block, and rezone for no minimum parking, mixed use TOD. Implement road diets as areas densify and attract street level businesses, and provide dedicated transit lanes wherever possible.

  • Joseph E

    Among LaBonge’s “ideas” (all of which have been suggested before), the Vermont subway extension is the best. If the tracks tie into both the red line and purple line at the Wilshire/Vermont station, you could have a one-seat ride or a cross-platform connection (with 0 minutes of waiting time) from USC and South LA to West LA, Westwood, Century City, Hollywood, and Downtown.

    The neighborhoods along Vermont are very dense (>35,000 per mile, to Pico) and dense residential (>25,000 people per square mile; NY City is 27,500 average) as far south as Jefferson, and there are many jobs at Wilshire Center and USC. The Vermont subway would also allow faster connections from Hollwood or Koreatown to the Expo Line

    An extension of the line south of Exposition would go into moderate-density residential areas until Slauson (about 20k per mile), but south of there Vermont is wide enough to allow an elevated line instead of subway, so despite the moderate-low density (15 to 20k) in this area, it would make sense to continue the trains all the way to the Green Line.

    Although expensive, due to rebuilding the Wilshire/Vermont station and building 5 miles of subway (compared to 7 miles for the subway to Westwood), a Vermont subway would have some of the highest ridershp in the city, serving dense, transit-oriented neighborhoods, and connecting to excellent subway service on the Purple and Red lines.

    Compared to the Red Line SF Valley Extension, or the Gold Line to Burbank, this would be much more useful and effective.

    Well, the new Subway station at 4th and Santa Fe in the Arts District is actually a good idea, too. It would only cost $40 mil or less, compared to 200 million for new underground stations, and adding a station after Union Station would improve operations and reduce confusion when trains turn around.

  • Erik G.

    Aerial Tram to Dodger Stadium from the Gold Line Chinatown Station!

    Funicular to Griffith Observatory!

  • LABornandRaised

    LaBonge has it right with the RedLine extension to Valley Plaza. Maybe that will get that redevelopment happening this decade instead of next century.

    That area has so much potential, but sadly the LA City residents have to hop over the city line to Burbank to see a decent movie theater or a decent mall…..for now.

  • Tony

    Just implement the original extension of the Red Line west towards the current Sepulveda Orange Line station. Don’t believe me? The architectural drawings are shelved in the Metro Transportation Library at One Gateway. In those 1989 drawings, if the NIMBY’s didn’t have their way, the real people of Van Nuys would have had a Red Line aerial station at both Sepulveda and Van Nuys stations; not to mention the Sepulveda station platforms above the boulevard, much closer to the 234/734 stops than the current Orange Line. With that, we wouldn’t need the controversial 902 bus as any Van Nuys bus would provide a one transfer connection to the Red Line instead of the 902 compromise.

    And while we’re at it, extend the Red Line east under Whittier in the true heart of East LA (yes, another planned extension shot down)

  • ds

    There was never a cent of money for the west San Fernando Valley Red Line extension. It was put into some of the planning documents, but it wasn’t funded at all.

    The Valley shot themselves in foot by passing the Robbins law that outlawed any form of rail transit in the Valley other than a deep bore subway. That is the reason why the Orange Line was built as BRT instead of light rail.

    But a heavy rail extension wasn’t going to happen no matter what the NIMBYs did.

    The East LA Red Line extension was a real project with funding, but it only went 3 miles to 1st & Lorena. Then the MTA ran out of funding and had to cancel it.

    A Whittier Red line extension was never planned and shot down. It was never planned, period. It may have been included in the alternatives analysis for the East LA Red Line extension, but the locally preferred alternative was the 1st Street line.

  • Chris

    Metro needs to Curitiba-ize the Orange Line. They’re running at capacity right now, but instituting proven efficiency measures could create greater capacity for riders, lower costs, create smaller headway times, and do it all with fewer buses.

  • Roy

    Transit to/from Pasadena-Glendale-Burbank-TheValley needed. There’s no way to get from Van Nuys to Burbank Center or Glendale Galleria directly. Let alone to Pasadena except the “Commuter” bus early AM or afternoons mon-fri. What, Valley-ites have no friends in Pasadena?

  • Some random ideas:

    1. Encase the Green Line stations along the 105 in sound-proof glass. As it is that system is like navigating a war zone.

    2. A costal line from Long Beach to Malibu, emphasizing speed, small footprint, and nice views. Magic wand right? :)

    I got a good smile out of “Aerial Tram to Dodger Stadium from the Gold Line Chinatown Station” – that would be awesome :)

  • Roadblock

    Nuclear powered hovercraft. Reduced
    oil dependence, no pothole worries….


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