December 11, 2002
Friends of the Green Line

First, the Crenshaw Corridor MIS

I had the impression that enhancing Metro Rapid routes from the Red Line at Wilshire and Western down Crenshaw Blvd. to the Green Line, along with other routes along Hawthorne, down to LAX and along other main arterials could substantially increase transportation capacity at least three fold to about 37,000 riders/day. For some $6 million to fund the vehicles and stations for these new lines, as well as some $11-22 million, this was an obvious first step for the Crenshaw Corridor.

An interim BRT alternative of locally-dedicated lane operations for Metro Rapid peak period service would enhance ridership and operations even more.

However, the $3-400 million needed to construct an established Crenshaw BRT (which would have the ability to proceed up to Wilshire and Western would bring only another 10,000 riders/day (47,000 riders/day). Despite the slightly-enhanced ridership, and the ability for vehicles to get off the BRT into mixed-flow traffic all the way to the Wilshire/Western terminus of the Red Line, this clearly had its cons as well as its pros.

A Crenshaw LRT, connecting Expo to the Green Line and to LAX, which could not go up beyond the Expo Line (it was GREAT to hear the future Expo Line described as a given!) to the Red Line terminus, was considered more likely to attract "choice" riders (those choosing to leave their cars to use mass transit). However, for a whopping $775 million a LRT could only enhance total ridership to 43,400 counting the Metro Rapid buses--and only 51,100 if an additional line along Hawthorne was added. Furthermore, a LRT along Crenshaw was considered unlikely because of local narrowing of streets and certain historic neighborhoods it would have to traverse.

In short, with respect to immediate transportation improvements in the Crenshaw Corridor, it was Metro Rapid "yes", but permanent infrastructure "no". For the future, the cheaper BRT could access Wilshire/Western, but still was hundreds of millions of dollars for only 10,000. I can't help but wonder what an underground connection between the Red Line and a Crenshaw LRT that was appropriately tunnelled would do, but more subways won't happen anytime soon.

The issue of a segment of the Crenshaw Corridor, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Right of Way (BNSF ROW) was brought up by several of us. Many there had reservations about preventing future rail enhancements on this BNSF ROW by throwing down a busway there. I had the distinct impression that the ROW would have to be widened to accommodate BOTH local and direct LAX/Union Station traffic in order to enfranchise the greatest number of commuters.

Since this ROW will be the route LAX will use to connect to the High-Speed Rail Network if the 2004 initiative for this Network passes, it might be premature to place any permanent infrastructure on this ROW until this initiative either passes or fails. The Metro Rapid Buses, however, will not touch the rail tracks of this ROW--which currently has some daily commercial freight service.

The question of how Crenshaw will link LAX and the Expo or Red Lines (and on to downtown L.A.) might be made moot if a direct train service is established along the BNSF ROW from LAX to Union Station. Bart and Roger had a rather successful discussion with Adi Arieli and Mike Bohlke earlier that day on this issue, but I'll let them elaborate on that issue.

Now, for the LAX/Green Line Issue

Roger Rudick, Bart Reed, David Mieger and myself all had a good discussion after the presentation. First and foremost, David Mieger allayed my fears that the LAX people mover would NOT go down Aviation Blvd to the Aviation/Imperial Green Line Station (as I had interpreted from Jim de la Loza's and others' previous statements) and prevent future Green Line extensions to the Westside. It will be routed along a meandering route through Lot B that goes near La Cienega.

David seemed to feel that BOTH a Green Line extension to be trenched down Aviation Blvd under the airplane flight paths AND a LAX people mover that made more frequent stops for freeway traffic would be needed to serve airport and ground transportaiton purposes. At this immediate time, I would have to agree.

However (and I think we all owe Roger Rudick a huge thank you for the amazing amount of work he's done to investigate and evaluate the previous disputes and intransigence displayed on the part of the FAA and LAWA regarding a Green Line connection to and through LAX), we urged David to really lean on both LAWA and the FAA to get a commitment on how to proceed with the Green Line past LAX.

It was not the taxicab unions or the MTA, but LAWA and the FAA that were and are amazingly troublesome in getting ground transportation to LAX. It was the MTA, though, that ended up getting the big black eye ten years ago when the Green Line failed to reach LAX--and it has hurt the MTA's ability to acquire more New Starts money because of its damaged credibility.

As mentioned above, the BNSF ROW that cruises along Aviation will be necessary for BOTH local AND direct LAX/Union Station rail traffic. Should there be a remote LAX Manchester Square terminal, it will have the ability to be a sort of "Union Station West" (a concept to which we also owe Roger Rudick). This Union Station West will be where a potential Green Line/Lincoln Line, Green Line/BNSF LRT, LAX/Union Station direct rail all come together.

Whether it is decided that the Green Line needs to go up, say, La Cienega and around LAX to get to the Westside, and that this "Union Station West" is placed outside the bounds of LAWA's jurisdiction, it will be absolutely necessary for LAWA to clearly define and delineate how the Green Line and the BNSF ROW can be expanded in the future before going along with their people mover idea.

It is hoped that County Supervisors Burke and Knabe (and maybe Mayor Hahn) can work with the South Bay Cities COG and the Los Angeles City Council to devise a ground transportation plan concomitant with whatever LAX reconfiguration plan is agreed to next year, a plan that would settle our air and ground transportation issues for the next 20-30 years.