Regarding Nineteen minutes to go one mile:
Tolls and/or congestion pricing are politically dead on arrival, despite their constant promotion by our libertarian friends at the Reason Foundation. And be aware these would have only limited applicability to our urban setting, and are not the miracle cure-alls some tout them as.
Tunneling E-W arterials beneath the 405 is even less likely. The regional politics are such that that magnitude of money for such a localized benefit wouldn't even rate a project study. Not to mention the backlash such a proposal would receive when the magnitude of however many homes would have to be seized and destroyed to make way for such tunnels was revealed. Oy!
No one who understands traffic would ever over-promise what extending the Red Line would achieve for traffic relief. Traffic is dynamic—whatever cars are taken off the road would be replaced by latent demand. That is why the first line of attack by light rail opponents is setting up a strawman by decrying its inability to relieve congestion.
The Red Line extension is about providing options. Our region is changing and the naysayers who make a living attacking new urbanism are being drowned out by its fast emergence as something real that you see just driving along key corridors in L.A.
And I am more confident than I have ever been that the Red Line extension will happen before I am old enough to collect Social Security (and I am in my mid-40s). We have a Mayor of Los Angeles who has made it a key part of his agenda. And just this week the non-profit I am involved with, Southern California Transit Advocates, transmitted a proposal for grant funding to hold six meetings in the Wilshire corridor next year to engage in public outreach with the communities that the proposed extension would run through. Our Public Affairs Co-Chair Kymberleigh Richards feels confident that our prospects to get the money are very bright. It is just a small first step yet still a beginning.
P.S. if you want the subway to extend westward, vote yes on Proposition 1B on the Nov. ballot. Given the shaky funding situation in D.C. this is our best shot for at least the first phase, Western to Fairfax.
Southern California Transit Advocates
Four years ago I accepted a job at a major Santa Monica employer. Having worked at a different major employer in beautiful downtown Burbank for five years - which forced me to commute on the 101-134 or 118-5 - I knew I had to avoid traffic. I chose to live close enough that I now walk to work.
Given the City of Santa Monica's regulations on employers regarding vehicle occupancy, my choice to not commute by car now a) benefits my employer, which in turn b) provides me with a small stipend (cash or bus tokens), and c) I buy gas for my car once every 60 days or so. People tell me that I pay more in rent by living near the beach in Santa Monica, but it takes me (literally) seven minutes door to door. I am home before they get from the 4th St. on-ramp to Centinela; then I'm in the water surfing before they are to the 405 interchange. And they probably burn 2 gallons of gasoline or more per day. The savings in money, time and aggravation is priceless.
They tell me that I'm lucky to live so close - but luck had nothing to do with it.
The subway along Wilshire won't change a thing. And given it's nightmarish cost, it will likely never be built.
The solutions aren't that mysterious -- there are street cars and electric extended buses all over San Francisco.
You slap a congestion charge all over the city - the boulevards, the freeways. You use the money to buy a network of surface rail cars using old rights of ways and existing streets. Then you double the congestion charges.
LA instantly becomes a liveable city where people talk to each other and get where they're going quickly.
John M. Mitchem
State Street Global Markets
I was born and raised in the Pico-Robertson area before moving with my family to Beverly Hills during high school. Until 18 months ago I lived in Santa Monica for the previous 25 years. The night it took us an hour and 10 minutes down Wilshire Boulevard at 6 p.m. to drive to a holiday concert at Beverly Hills High to see my niece sing is the day I told my wife, “I’m done.” Coupled with my daily 16-mile, 45 minute (on a good day) commute to Downtown LA, I knew there had to be something better. Sadly, we don’t realize just how much traffic impacts our life until we no longer have it.
San Luis Obispo
The Red Line extension would be "a" solution, but closer to "the" solution would be a recognition that the building of the 405 amputated most of the east-west routes across the Westside. It's been my observation that E-W traffic is far worse than N-S traffic, perhaps because there are so few E-W routes that have been allowed to cross the 405 corridor. A solution, therefore, that could come to pass years before the Red Line is built would be to tunnel some underpasses beneath the 405 for certain "release-valve" streets-- perhaps La Grange, among others.
Building the Wilshire "subway to the sea" will greatly help mobility along one of the nation's most densely developed corridors, but it won't take many cars off the streets. Remember that some of the world's most extensive subway systems are found in places like New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong--none of which are characterized by particularly fast-moving street traffic. Speeding up traffic in the area will require that roads be tolled, preferably at a variable rate depending on the time of day.
How about following the successful examples of London and Singapore by establishing a toll cordon around the most congested area? The western boundary could be set at the Santa Monica city limits, the eastern one at Beverly Glen, the northern one at Sunset, and the southern one at Pico; there would also be a camera at every offramp on the 405 in the affected area. Like London, an automatic camera could take a picture of every car that enters the area at morning rush hour, and a nominal toll--let's start it at $1 between 6 and 10 AM, with an extra dollar between 7 and 9--could be assessed to the registered owner of that vehicle. Optical character recognition could handle the task of identification--or LADOT/MTA could farm out the job to the same call center in Ghana that processes parking tickets for New York City.
London uses the revenues from its system to buy buses, since the Underground is at capacity. Los Angeles could use revenues from a Westside toll cordon to offset the cost of digging the Wilshire subway, and maybe fix a few potholes and sidewalks while they're at it.
How can the L.A. Times devote a billion-inches to a Page One story Sunday about the Westside's Category 5 traffic, and come up with only two paragraphs about the solution-- extending the Red Line to the Sea? For starters, I suspect the Time's MTA reporter, Jean Guccione, who got a contributing line on the story, has drunk the Yaroslavsky-Waxman Kool-Aid, and counts herself among the naysayers who believe the subway will never happen. Whatever the reason, the Times' transportation coverage, compared to its enlightened editorial stance on the Red Line, is stuck in something worse than traffic.