18. Where's the transit?

Expo Line from Culver City to Santa Monica: 2015 . . . Green Line to LAX: 2016 to 2018 . . . Connector for downtown rail: 2018 . . . Subway to La Cienega: 2019 . . . Subway to Century City: 2026 . . . Crenshaw project: 2029 . . . Subway to Westwood: 2032 . . . Westside to the Valley project: 2038 . . . Subway to the Sea: Anyone's guess.

This list is Metro's initial estimate (based on local funding only) to build more rail-based transit. The list is a source of fury, perhaps for the wrong reason.

In fairness, it could take less than 30 years to assemble these system components, thanks to the federal funding promised today (01/08/09). Projects that have approvals and construction drawings waiting would benefit. Projects with an implementation cycle measured in more than months might not. There is no calculating what kind of system might be under construction eight or twelve or twenty years from now.

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Rail advocates are furious that it's likely to take that long to extend a skeleton of rail over the existing armature of the Blue, Gold, and Green light rail lines and the Red and Purple subway lines which make a rough cross over the heart of the county.

Bus advocates are furious that bus service won't benefit from the billions these projects will require, that fares will continue to ratchet up, and that local bus service will be the inevitable loser when Metro runs out of money.

Transit riders are past fury. Transit riders will take whatever is given them, whenever it's given, and be mostly mute (with the strong exception of the Bus Riders Union).

What should the real cause of fury be? The disconnect between the transit Metro will be able to provide and the large-scale Transit Oriented Development that will densify neighborhoods years (even decades) before really useful transit gets there.

(I am continually amazed at the capacity of county voters to tax themselves to build a system that less than 5% of them will ever ride. I am amazed and continually grateful, as someone who is transit dependent and attempting to make a not-quite-middle-class life here.)

The image on this page was taken by Flickr user Metro. It was used under Creative Commons license.

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