First Leg of Wilshire Bus Only Lanes Finally Opens

Finally
Finally!

Moments ago, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and representatives of the Federal Transit Administration celebrated tomorrow’s official opening of  1.8 miles of Bus Only Lanes on Wilshire Boulevard between Western Avenue and South Park View St. at MacArthur Park. The lanes open tomorrow morning at 7 am, just in time for the morning rush hour.

The 1.8 miles of bus only lanes, which are “bike ok!”, is the first portion of the 7.7 miles of lanes that will stretch from Downtown Los Angeles to the border of Santa Monica.

During peak hours, Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown. There are 53,000 daily boardings with 44 percent of those during rush hours. More people travel along the Wilshire Corridor by bus than by car in peak periods. The currently completed bus only lanes will save transit commuters about two minutes in each direction.

A large chunk of Wilshire is excluded from the project in Beverly Hills and Westwood. An exuberant Metro press release brags that the lanes will “stretch 12.5 miles between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica and will shorten bus commute times by 12-15 minutes.” There is no mention of the Beverly Hills/Westwood shaped hole in the middle of the project.

Beverly Hills is excluded because the grant application was done by the City of Los Angeles and negotiations with Beverly Hills were not completed by the due date. While the city has not made a plan for its own, matching, Bus Onlu Lanes, some officials expressed regret that Los Angeles is getting the lanes and Beverly Hills is not.

Westwood is excluded because residents convinced Council Member Paul Koretz and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that the lanes were a bad idea based on conjecture.

Now that this leg of the project is completed, there are still nearly six miles of lanes left to be repainted. Emails to Metro officials asking for a timetable yesterday were sent to LADOT. LADOT says they’ll have an answer for us “later this afternoon.” We’ll update this story when we hear from them.

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