Bill Boyarsky
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Shop at a Metro station

bill-300.jpgGet off a train at a London underground station or similar facilities in many of the world's big cities and you can stop for coffee, pick up your laundry or shop in a small market for something to take home for dinner.

With Metro expanding at a fairly rapid clip, why can't we do that here? Banks, ATMs, retail and restaurants would produce revenue for the huge system of trains and buses and be a great convenience for riders. About the only commercial development I've seen are condos across the street from a couple of light rail stations.

I asked Phil Washington, Metro's CEO, about this when he spoke Monday at the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum, which is arranged by public affairs consultant Emma Schafer.

"We would like to look at those things," Washington replied. He said he'd like to see some companies make proposals to Metro for such enterprises in the stations.

After lunch, one of his aides told me that the Century City station of the Purple Line Wilshire subway may be the first to offer rider-friendly commercial enterprises. More stations, above and below ground, will be built in the future and they could also have shops and stores.

As usual, Washington was full of ideas. In fact, he has established a department to sift through unsolicited ideas to expand Metro's imagination and vision. As it expands, Metro will have a tremendous impact on Los Angeles and its environs. Metro, Washington said, has authority over much land around its stations, and is developing housing there, 35 percent of which will be classified as affordable.

With all these plans, Metro should provide a place for a quick cup of coffee and a bagel for a commuter scurrying off to work.

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