From the subway extension to the Westside to a people mover at LAX
When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympic games, visitors from around the world will find that they can ride the train to LAX, hop aboard the subway to Urban Light, and cruise straight from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles via light rail.
Flush with cash from Measure M, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax, Metro will expand the transit network so much during the next decade that Los Angeles may very well boast the nation’s second most extensive rail system—second only to New York.
“The Olympics didn’t create our transportation revolution, but the revolution is readying us for a successful Olympics,” Metro spokeswoman Kim Upton tells Curbed.
Dozens of other infrastructure improvements are also in the works, all in a quest to give Angelenos and tourists more public transit options so they don’t have to take the freeway.
Below, we highlight the biggest public transportation projects anticipated to open in the next 11 years. The Olympics are a big deal not just for LA but for the entire host country, and Upton says it’s possible that more state or federal funding will trickle down to speed up construction on even more projects than those listed here. Scroll on:
By 2028, Metro plans to operate rapid, heavy-rail service beneath most of Wilshire Boulevard, extending the subway nine-miles from its current terminus at Western Avenue, all the way to the VA hospital, west of the 405 freeway. Originally mapped out in the 1980s, construction for Westside Subway was snarled by litigation and legislation. Once complete, it promises a 25-minute ride between Downtown LA and Westwood.
Metro plans to open the subway in two phases. The first, which will add subway stops to the intersections of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega, is under construction now. Before Measure M passed, Metro anticipated this section would open by 2023. But, the extra cash means this date will likely be much sooner. Under the Measure M expenditure plan, Metro anticipates the second portion of tracks should be operational by 2027 at the latest, adding subway stations to Wilshire/Rodeo (drive in Beverly Hills), Century City, Westwood, and the VA Hospital.
Connecting the Expo Line to the Green Line, the 8.5-mile Crenshaw Line will add light rail service south from the Expo/Crenshaw Station through Leimert Park, Crenshaw, Inglewood, and portions of unincorporated (but densely populated) Los Angeles County. Construction on the the Crenshaw Line is blistering along, and Metro anticipates a fall 2019 opening date.
Though not at first, the Crenshaw Line will eventually be the vehicle by which Angelenos will connect to LAX by train. By 2024, Metro will have added a station near 96th Street/Aviation Boulevard that will connect to the LAX Automated People Mover, allowing easy, car-free transportation to and from our beloved and bemoaned airport.
With an anticipated 2023 opening date, the LAX Automated People Mover will mean Angelenos will finally be able to take the train to the airport. Once open, the people mover will serve a station on the Crenshaw and Green Lines, connecting them to the broader Metro rail network.
“It’s an important program for people Angelenos and people visiting L.A. alike, far beyond just the Olympics,” said Mark Waier, the director of communications for Los Angeles World Airports. “It will relieve congestion in and around the airport. And, we are doing it with a timeline that will deliver it well before the Olympics in 2028.”
That said, the Metro rail connection is just one part of a broad push by Los Angeles World Airports to de-stress the experience of getting in and out of LAX. Six stations will adorn the APM once complete. Three of these stations will serve LAX’s various terminals inside the airport itself. The other three stations will serve a pair of “Intermodal Transportation Facilities,” and a consolidated rental car center. The two ITFs will serve to reduce the amount of congestion inside the airport itself, providing more accessible spots for drop-off, and bus and rail connections. The consolidated rental car center will draw all the various rental-car companies, currently scattered throughout Westchester, under one roof.
Metro calls the Downtown Regional Connector the “missing link” in its rail system. Once complete in 2021, the Regional Connector will connect the Gold Line directly to the Blue and Expo Lines, and add three shiny new train stations to Downtown LA. Right now, train riders traveling from, say, USC to Pasadena or East Los Angeles, have to deal with a clunky double transfer (Expo to Red to Gold) to get to their destination. The regional connector will eliminate at least one of these transfers by consolidating the current three light-rail lines into just two. One of these will run on an east-west axis, from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles. The other will run on a north-south axis, connecting Long Beach to Azusa.
The trains will run together for five stations through Downtown LA, three of which will be new. Joining the the Pico and Seventh Street/Metro Center stations will be the Little Tokyo/Arts District station at First Street and Central, a station at Second Street and Broadway, and a Bunker Hill station at Second Street and Hope.
Bus Rapid Transit on Vermont
By 2028, Metro hopes to have installed a Bus Rapid Transit line on Vermont Avenue, from Hollywood Boulevard and 120th Street, and right by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Bus Rapid Transit consists of buses that operate like trains. They have their own dedicated lanes that cars can’t enter or block, their own stations where people pay fares before boarding, and their own segregated signals. The level of service is comparable to light rail, but without the high cost to build.
How this will play out is a little bit more ambiguous. Where the other aforementioned projects have all been thoroughly planned, development of this project is a bit more present tense. It’s worth mentioning, too, that Metro intends to build a similar BRT line connecting the North Hollywood Red Line Station to the Del Mar Gold Line station, in Pasadena. This line, functionally serving as an extension of the Valley’s Orange Line, would offer transit connection to Burbank and Glendale, along its way to Pasadena.
Van Nuys Boulevard Transportation Corridor
Speaking of the Valley, the Measure M expenditure plan targets the opening of a major transportation project along Van Nuys Boulevard sometime between 2027 and 2029. While this project is also in a nascent planning stage, Metro wants to build either a high-capacity bus, tram or light-rail system along Van Nuys Boulevard, from the city of San Fernando to Sherman Oaks.
This corridor would also connect to the Sepulveda Pass transportation project, an ambitious plan to link eventually the Valley to the Westwood subway station, and eventually to LAX. Metro anticipates the first phase of the Sepulveda Pass project to complete sometime between 2026 and 2028, though it’s important to note that this will likely take the form of a express bus on the 405, at least initially. Phase two of the project, ostensibly a heavy rail train like the Red and Purple lines, is slated for completion in the mid 2030s.
Aside from the big Metro construction projects will come a slew of other infrastructure improvements crucial to keeping Los Angeles moving. Eleven years from now, Los Angeles’s bike share network will have grown to blanket great swaths of the city, in neighborhoods like North Hollywood, Koreatown, and across the Westside. Bike lanes, and other pedestrian improvements a part of the city’s Vision Zero (traffic deaths) campaign, will likewise come along.
Metro is also hard at work on improving its enormous network of buses. While this is also more ambiguous at this point, Metro has articulated a goal to vastly improve bus connectivity and reliability over the next decade, not to mention rolling out an all-electric fleet. Though Metro rail gets lots of good press, it’s critical to remember that Metro’s bus fleet carries more than twice as many passengers as Metro Rail.