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Epstein Extra: Metro is for All Angelenos!

9:53 AM PST on February 24, 2011

In a cover story I penned for this week Jewish Journal entitled, “All Aboard the Case for an All-Pervasive Metro,” I argue that mass transit in LA has finally arrived at the door of the Jewish community.  Thanks to the region’s population growth, as well as Metro’s considerable expansion over the past twenty years and plans for future expansion, the view that many Angelenos now hold is that transit has a critical role to play in the future of Los Angeles, even when it goes through, or under, our backyards.  While my aim with the Journal piece is to encourage the paper's traditional readership to embrace the importance of Metro’s expansion throughout Los Angeles County, the article might in fact find an audience in any of LA’s ethnic, religious and cultural communities.  In other words, if my Spanish, Tagalog, Farsi, Korean, Chinese, Armenian and Russian were better, I would be amortizing my investment by writing similar articles in community newspapers in those tongues as well.

The Journal article urges Angelenos of all creeds to keep an open mind to projects like the highly successful Orange Line, which faced vocal opposition when it was being planned and built.  Given the line’s success, and the popularity of the adjacent landscaped bike path, the thought of anyone today opposing this critical project seems unimaginable.

But some still do raise objections to critical and overdue public transit improvements like a Wilshire Subway Station at Constellation in Century City, Phase II of the Expo Line and a true bus rapid transit (BRT) line along dedicated lanes on Wilshire Blvd.

Overall though, I am encouraged by County voters passage of Measure R, a half-cent transportation sales tax, and Angelenos’ widespread embrace of Metro’s 30/10 Initiative.  Both developments speak to how much attitudes about public transportation in Los Angeles have shifted in recent years and give me hope that the Metro Board and the City will have the public’s blessing to do the right thing in building out 30/10’s twelve critical projects.

After my piece had gone to press The Transit Coalition, a group of thoughtful local transit advocates, released an important proposal to build a north south rail line connecting the San Fernando Valley with the Westside.  This critical piece of the region’s mass transit puzzle will permit commuters to travel from Metrolink and the Orange Line in the congested San Fernando Valley to the Wilshire subway and Expo Line on the congested Westside.  The so called I-405 Rail Corridor will give commuters from Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, and the Antelope Valley a faster public transportation alternative than driving to the job centers of Westwood, Century City, and Santa Monica.  That is public transit at its best, creating mobility in a hopelessly gridlocked region.

Los Angeles has an opportunity to make the most of its good mass transit bones, a vestige of the region’s extensive streetcar system.  But first we will need to win over or drown out the voices of No that have over the years killed many a worthwhile transit project.  Twenty years into LA’s ever-expanding modern transit program, the fact that more of us have grown up with good transit options in the form of the subway, the Rapid buses, the Orange Line and the Gold Line has helped dispel the myth that Angelenos won’t ride Metro.  That out-of-date idea has long since left the station.

Joel Epstein is a Westside resident, Metro customer and strategic communications consultant focused on transportation and other critical urban issues. For more about Epstein, visit

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