Good News! The ‘Holy Grail’ of LA’s Transit System IS Being Built!

ALPERN AT LARGE--Last night was a blast from the past--wonderful people like Darrell Clarke, Jody Litvak, and Cory Zelmer, some of the greatest "transit heroes" I've ever met, were at the kickoff of three meetings of what I've referred to as "the Holy Grail" of our transit system which is the north-south transit line from the San Fernando Valley to LAX...starting with the San Fernando Valley to the Expo Line/Westside. 

After presenting to the Westside, the Metro team will present to the San Fernando Valley and LAX Area over the next week: 



Sorry, Neighborhood Councilmembers and stakeholders, the Metro Staff does NOT have the ability to go to each NC and directly present to you...although my OWN recommendation is that the Westside and Valley NC's band together for a joint request to present. The presentation is EXCELLENT and is probably already on line. 

(Graphics above: Four narrowed and Refined Valley-Westside Transit Concepts to date)

I personally support the two HRT (heavy rail) transit alternatives, and the "straight shot" of HRT 1 that is the quickest and gets a few extra riders (and fewer minutes). The big question is whether Metro and transit advocates "get it" that this will connect to Metrolink, and effectively this line is meant to get people out of their cars, so.... 

1) Whether it's publicly-funded, or a public/private partnership, cheap and large parking lots are critical. 

2) Does aligning this project with the freeway help or hurt freeway traffic? 

What is NOT in question is that this line would be heavily ridden. Ditto with the Expo Line--it's meant to do mitigation along a busy freeway corridor, and people will ride it. 

A few key questions and answers persist and will be certainly modified. PLEASE check out Steve Hymon's excellent article on this project (LINK: https://thesource.metro.net/2019/01/29/here-are-the-four-new-refined-concepts-for-sepulveda-transit-corridor/). 

1) There's a lot of overlap between the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor light rail line and this project, with that light rail project requiring some overlap to address the overcapacity that it will have (it, too, will be popular). It's too expensive to have the north-south Westside/Valley transit project go all the way to Metrolink in Sylmar (in case you were wondering). 

2) The Getty Center might extend or modify its own train to meet this project. 

3) This Westside/Valley transit project WILL connect with UCLA. 

4) This Westside/Valley transit project will either go west of the 405 freeway at Expo/Bundy, or east of the 405 freeway at Expo/Sepulveda. 

The presentation did, interestingly, have a suggestion of a future HRT extension down Centinela, and for those of us who want a Lincoln AND a Sepulveda Blvd. line, this might "split the difference" or serve neither need. But I like the "thinking outside the box" of Metro, which intends to get this line to the Westside, Valley, Metrolink, and LAX as soon as possible.  

(Sorry if the monorail fans out there are angry with me, but in my opinion the reduced costs and speed of construction aren't as nice, realistic, or practical for a century-long infrastructure project like this one). 

Meanwhile, the first Metro light rail/transit project, the Blue Line, is getting a decades-needed upgrade to attract and retain riders. The Blue Line is one of the most heavily-ridden rail projects in the nation, for all its shortcomings. 

As with the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Downtown Light Rail Connector, this Westside/Valley/LAX transit line is a north-south transit line that will be fundamental as an alternative to our freeways. 

Not to worry for those moving west-east: the Downtown Light Rail Connector does that, too, the Wilshire Subway is being built ASAP, and Metro just threw some money to get the Foothill/San Gabriel Valley Gold Line to Pomona

The north-south Valley/Westside/LAX line will happen, and even my own pet dream of a Second Light Rail Connector between Inglewood and Union Station via the Harbor Subdivision Right of Way to serve the needs of all regions, will occur. It just requires political will. 

But Metro does appear to continue to be doing its best and earning our taxpayer dollars. 

And perhaps the argument of $6 billion or so dollars to build a border security system (or whatever you want to call it) is put into a different light.  

Infrastructure is something Americans will pay for regardless of where you live. But big projects require Consensus, Planning and Funding...in that order.  

Please show up and help this "Holy Grail" of the Metro Transit System become a reality. 


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)