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Streetsblog Predictions for 2024

Predictions: Metro transit ridership will grow, Metro will complete freeway and rail projects, new bus shelters in L.A., and groundbreaking for high-speed rail

Metro will complete its Airport Connector project in 2024. Metro construction photo from September 2023

It's time for Streetsblog L.A. editor Joe Linton to make some predictions for 2023. Note that in the past, my overly rosy predictions were not all that successful, so don't take these for granted, either.

Continued Metro Ridership Growth

Prediction: Metro weekday transit ridership will surpass one million - by April.

After restoring service cut at the outset of the pandemic, Metro has seen steady transit ridership growth throughout 2023. Earlier this month, Metro increased light rail service, so the ridership increases should continue.

2021 daily weekday ridership was around 500,000-800,000+. 2022 ridership was 800,000-900,000. 2023 trended upward steadily (slower than I had hoped), with October 2023 seeing a pandemic era high of 957,000. A return to a million daily riders (2019 saw ~1.2 million) will most likely take place during the first few months of 2024.

Hopefully Metro continues to make service reliable and frequent, partners with cities (mostly the L.A. City Department of Transportation - LADOT) to add new bus lanes, implements all door boarding, and continues to see ridership growth.

Who wants to predict when Metro transit ridership will exceed pre-pandemic levels? Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, who has done a lot to restore and improve service, predicted that would happen by June 2023. I hope it can happen maybe by mid- to late-2024... but it might well take some unexpected turn of events, like gas prices spiking.

Continued Metro Project Completion

Prediction: Metro will finish widening the 405 Freeway through Torrance - by April.

Metro - alongside partners Caltrans, the South Bay Council of Governments, and the city of Torrance - is spending ~$62 million widening the 405 Freeway at and near Crenshaw Boulevard. The project is adding nearly two miles of new auxiliary freeway lanes, a new on-ramp, and widening adjacent streets: Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street.

2022 photo of Metro/Caltrans/Torrance 405 Freeway widening under construction at Van Ness Avenue. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog

This 405 expansion was due to be completed in late 2023. It's now on track for early 2024. With federal and state highway funding relatively abundant, Metro is looking to get an additional 405 widening underway soon... even Metro admits that all its freeway expansion is worsening the climate catastrophe. Vroom! Vroom!

Prediction: The Metro rail system will connect to LAX - by Thanksgiving 2024

Metro is more than three-quarters done building its Airport Connector (photo at top of post), which will link the Metro K Line to LAX's automated people mover.

LAX rendering of people mover project, scheduled to open next year

That people mover project is more than 92 percent completed and scheduled to open in 2024.

I don't know what all testing will be needed for the K Line to extend to its full length (three more stations: LAX Airport Connector [96th Street], Aviation/Century, and Aviation/C Line [Imperial Highway]), but it would be a big boost to debut the full line in time for Angelenos' winter holiday travel. And a big boost for everyday mobility for Angelenos, including folks who work at LAX.

New A Line (former Gold Line) Glendora Station under construction last month - via Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority

Prediction: Metro - via the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority - will finish construction for the Foothill extension to Pomona - by mid-December 2024.

Construction is already more than 80 percent done extending the A Line to Pomona. By the end of this year, the Gold Line Authority (which has a good record for bringing projects in on schedule and on budget) will celebrate completing construction. At that point, Metro would need about six months of testing, leading to the new A Line extension opening to the public in mid-2025.

Prediction: Metro El Monte bike hub will re-open - by May 2024

Metro says repairs (from a September 2022 car crash) will be complete by March, but that date has slipped already, so I will go out on a limb and say May 2024, in time for Bike Week.

New Bus Shelters

Prediction: L.A. City will install at least 40 new bus shelters - by December 2024

Thank goodness Mayor Karen Bass has finally unclogged L.A. City's new bus shelter system, ending delays her administration perpetuated. L.A. is supposed to see a much needed fifty new bus shelters installed during calendar year 2024. These installs get bogged down sometimes, so my prediction is forty will make it.

High-Speed Rail Groundbreaking

California high-speed rail projects got great news this year, with six billion federal dollars split between California High-Speed Rail (under construction in the Central Valley) and Brightline West (planned between Southern California and Las Vegas).

Prediction: Brightline West high-speed rail construction will break ground by Summer 2024.

Groundbreaking for Brightline has been expected to be right around the corner for the past year or so. The three billion dollars should get some sort of groundbreaking taking place very soon - at least for some pre-construction phase. There could even be multiple groundbreakings at either end of the planned line - Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas.

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