Light Rail to Los Angeles International: A Questionable Proposition?

» New proposals for light rail connections to LAX put in question whether an extension project will offer any major benefits.

Of the nation’s largest cities, Los Angeles is one of the remaining few with no direct rail connection to its airport.* Over the past two decades, L.A. County has expanded its Metro Rail network considerably, but the closest it has gotten to a station at its largest airport — LAX — is a stop about a mile away from terminals on the Green Line light rail service, which does not reach downtown and requires customers to make a connection to a surface bus to get to and from check-in areas.

According to current plans, that will change in the next few decades. Metro dedicated $200 million to a light rail connector in its Measure R spending packaged passed by voters in 2008. The agency began studying potential direct links from its

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Los Angeles Asks Its Voters to Extend Transit Tax Far Into the Future

Los Angeles Expo Line

» Lacking the federal support to advance its transportation projects forward as quickly as the leadership — and perhaps the public — desires, L.A. County residents will vote on whether to extend a 1/2-cent sales tax for thirty more years.

Residents of Los Angeles may already pay more in sales taxes for the upkeep and expansion of their transportation system than people in any other county in the U.S. Referenda have been approved by voters in 1980, 1990, and 2008, each of which distributes a half-cent tax on every dollar in sales to the county’s transportation system, Metro. Of the total $1.8 billion per year in revenues,* about 40% are spent on expansions to the transit system, with the rest distributed to maintenance and operations of the county’s roads and transit systems.

This very public endorsement of the need to invest in transportation (Measure R, passed in 2008, required a 2/3-vote

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L.A.’s Westside Subway is Practically Ready for Construction, But Its Completion Could be 25 Years Off

Westside Subway LPA Alignment

» The Wilshire Corridor metro extension’s final environmental impact statement is released.

Of the nation’s public transportation improvement projects, Los Angeles’ Westside Subway is one of the most important: It would offer an alternative option for tens of thousands of daily riders and speed travel times by up to 50% compared to existing transit trips. It would serve one of the nation’s densest and most jobs-rich urban corridors and in doing so take a major step forward towards making L.A. a place where getting around without a car is comfortable.

L.A. County’s transit provider, Metro, released the final environmental impact statement for the 8.9-mile Westside Subway project last week, providing the most up-to-date details on a multi-billion-dollar scheme that is expected to enter the construction phase next year. The project received a positive review by the Federal Transit Administration in the Obama Administration’s FY 2013 budget, and

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For L.A., How to Build an Airport Rail Connection That Makes Sense for Passengers?

Passenger Convenience Trade Offs

» Linking current and future light rail lines to the airport will require a corridor extension, the construction of an automated people mover, or improved bus service.

Los Angeles leaders, like those of many major cities, are very interested in improving public transportation access to the airport. Such projects are perceived to be politically palatable transit investments because they are appealing to a wide spectrum of the population, including people — especially the economically influential — who do not usually take the bus or train. Unfortunately, even when they’re built, these connections often fail to live up to expectations. Can L.A.’s planned airport rail link do better?

As part of Measure R, the sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2008 that will dedicate billions to new rapid transit, $200 million was dedicated to the extension of the Green Line light rail to

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Los Angeles’ Streetcar Plans: Too Duplicative of Existing Services?

Los Angeles Downtown Streetcar Proposals

» Los Angeles submitted an application for U.S. TIGER funds with the intention of building a downtown streetcar line. But the alignments proposed are very similar to those offered by existing rail and bus services — and each would operate in a one-way loop, a failed transit concept.

Los Angeles has big hopes for its downtown, and, like most of the country’s major cities, it has seen significant population growth in the inner core over the past ten years. Now, to extend this renaissance, the city — also like many others — is planning a streetcar line that would traverse the district from north to south. Last month, it applied for $37.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant dollars, which it hopes to supplement with local and private funds to complete an initial route of between 3 and 5 one-way track miles at

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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