Five New Miles Of Wilshire Peak-Hour Bus-Only Lanes Opened Today

Yesterday's Wilshire BRT ribbon-cutting. Foreground left to right: xxx
Yesterday’s Wilshire BRT ribbon-cutting. Foreground left to right: L.A. City Engineer Gary Lee Moore, FTA Team Leader Ray Tellis, Councilmember Tom Labonge, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin, Metro Boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker, and Councilmember Paul Koretz. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Elected officials and agency representatives gathered yesterday to host a ribbon-cutting event for Wilshire Boulevard’s newest peak-hour bus-only lanes. The $31.5 million project, dubbed the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a joint effort of Metro, L.A. City, and L.A. County. The bus-only lanes operate from 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.

The celebration took place at the La Brea Tar Pits. Speakers included L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, Federal Transit Administration Team Leader Ray Tellis, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro Boardmember Jackie Dupont-Walker, Metro’s Interim Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins, L.A. City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Tom LaBonge, and Paul Koretz, and others. The event was attended by about 120 people, mostly governmental staff.

Streetsblog readers will remember the struggle to get this project underway. Due to politics, the bus lane facility ended up somewhat on-again off-again. Though most of Wilshire Blvd within the city of Los Angeles is included, the bus-only lane does not include Westwood’s “Condo Canyon” stretch, nor the parts of Wilshire inside the cities of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes Map - red
Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes Map showing segments that are and are not receiving bus-only lanes – from 2012 Metro staff report [PDF
An initial 1.8 miles of the Wilshire BRT already opened in June 2013. That section goes from MacArthur Park to Western Avenue.

As of today, four new segments are live, totaling five new miles:

  • Western Avenue to San Vicente Boulevard (3.6 miles)
  • Beverly Hills to Comstock Avenue (0.5 miles)
  • Selby Avenue to Veteran Avenue (o.5 miles)
  • Bonsall Avenue to Federal Avenue (0.4 miles)

The final 0.9 mile segment, from Federal Avenue to Centinela Avenue, is expected to open in fall, 2015.

Some speakers at the ribbon-cutting sounded less interested in the completed multi-million dollar BRT than in the future multi-billion dollar Purple Line subway extension which will run in the same corridor. The first of three subway extensions phases recently broke ground and is expected to reach La Cienega Boulevard in 2023.

Both Garcetti and Bonin emphasized Wilshire BRT’s immediate benefit to huge numbers of people already riding buses here. According to Metro, there are 55,000 daily boardings and 50 percent of these take place during peak hours. Bonin and Garcetti expressed their interest in extending forms of BRT to other Los Angeles transportation corridors. At Garcetti’s and other boardmembers’ urging, Metro is currently studying BRT improvements for Vermont Avenue and for a connection between the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley.

Councilmember Koretz elicited the biggest laugh of the day, when he encouraged Wilshire Boulevard’s fast-moving bus riders not to make obscene gestures to drivers stuck in traffic in other lanes.

Curb-lane BRT often experiences delays due to conflicts with drivers using the curb lane illegally. New York City and San Francisco have had some success discouraging illegal driver activity by equipping buses with enforcement cameras, able to ticket drivers parked or cruising in bus-only lanes. A proposed state bill, A.B. 1287, would make S.F.’s bus camera program permanent.

Bus riders – how are L.A. drivers treating our bus-only lanes? Is more enforcement needed? by LAPD? or should Metro try on-board enforcement cameras? What other ideas do readers have to make L.A. rapid transit as rapid as possible? Let us know in the comments below

  • AJ

    We definitely need to be careful about diluting the meaning of BRT by using it to describe this project. Peak hour bus lanes that only operate four hours per day on weekdays along half of the route without any off-board fare collection, shelters, etc is a very low bar to set.

  • Matt

    Should be a decent project. Too bad, BH is not included. Yes, the enforcement needs to be stepped up. I’d suggest cameras on board and maybe along the route as well with a stiff penalty as punishment.

  • milliontown

    They can follow San Francisco’s lead and install cameras on buses to give tickets to drivers in the bus only lanes

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2015/03/30/chiu-bill-would-let-muni-cameras-ticket-drivers-cruising-in-transit-lanes/

  • Joe Linton

    I agree with diluting BRT – though Metro is calling it BRT, it’s questionable if this really quite there. I think it’s a great improvement, a step in the right direction, and it can use more features (more hours, perhaps pre-pay boarding) to make it BRT.
    (fyi – it operates 5 hours/day – not 4.)

  • Not BRT. Just what every other “World-Class” city had 40 years ago, or even longer if they chose to allow buses to also run in their streetcar medians.

    And remember that the FINAL EIR on this was issued FOURTEEN YEARS AGO!!!!

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2kAMSpDDYJTXzRDc1J0SUR6czQ/view

  • LAifer

    SF’s buses have the advantage of being in the same city/county that also issues traffic citations. LA’s Metro is a completely separate agency from LADOT and the LAPD, and it’d likely need to work out some kind of MOU with the city to put cameras on the buses that could actually issue citations.

  • ubrayj02

    BEVERLY HILLS SORRY BUT YOU REALLY REALLY REALLY SUCK!

    The only reason I want to 2 Freeway extension to happen is to bulldoze this town!

    They complain about “traffic” then stop BRT, try and stop a good subway station, and stop bike lanes. WTF?!

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Funny how council member Paul Koretz is at the ribbon cutting ceremony when he was adamantly opposed to the bus only lanes going through his district. The condo canyon section of the bus only lanes that were to included were excluded due to his opposition.

  • monkeyman

    The “Bus only lanes” operate 5 hours a day 5 days a week. Motorists can park their cars in the “bus only lanes” the other 19 hours 7 days a week.

    WIth no enforcement and no physical separation the 60,000 people on the 720 everyday are at the whim of LA drivers who are supposed to “follow the law.”

    All they did was repave Wilshire this is no BRT.

  • Joe Linton

    Not insurmountable. Metro issues tickets today… it can be done.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    One of the other stories I read about this is saying that they will start testing off-board fare collection soon at a few stops, and eventually hopefully roll it out to the whole line.

  • Asher Of LA

    That is an unbelievable level of chutzpah. Even if you are a NIMBY, that is an incredible lack of integrity, to show up all smiles for something you blocked, as if you helped birth it. Who invited him anyway?

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Council member Tom LaBonge was in support of the bus only lanes on Wilshire Blvd in his district. Is that his greatest achievement for making modifications to the streets in his district in the 12 years that he has been a council member? Maybe someone can point out where he has shown leadership, courage and any vision beyond this for altering the streets in his district. It certainly wouldn’t be to install bike lanes or even a bicycle boulevard. He’s turned down making 4th St into a bicycle friendly street. Blocked putting in bike lanes on Barham Blvd, Lankershim Blvd and 6th St. He also stated he didn’t want bike lanes on Vermont Ave when that street was in his district.

  • Jake Bloo

    This is a minuscule start to what will ultimately be the savior of LA traffic: BRT and Bus Only lanes.

    We cannot build rail cheap enough or quickly enough, but painting lanes, adding enforcement with penalties, and installing better boarding systems that allow for more efficient operation will be what fixes our problems.

  • James

    Look at that waxy balding old [DELETED BY EDITOR], he didn’t get to hold the ceremonial scissors but had to weasel his way into the center of the event so he could touch the person holding the scissors. I think he might be an animated corpse powered by flash bulbs and outgasings released by giant plastic scissors. Why is he still here? Can’t we wheel him over to the wax museum already and put him on display next to the 1970s local news anchors?

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