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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

TRANSIT REPORT - Los Angeles 2016



There's been some big moves in Los Angeles public transit since we last took a look.  See the updates below, in red.

UPDATED: March 2016 - see red section, below.


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Just a touch over six years ago, we wrote the following on the last day of operation for the old El Monte bus station:

This week marked the end of the original El Monte Bus Station.  Built in 1973 and looking like a flying saucer, it was the first modern public transit structure to be built since the end of the trolley days here in Southern California.  It anchored the El Monte - Los Angeles busway...a dedicated lane for buses along Interstate 10.  Riders came here and used it much like a subway station to catch express buses into Los Angeles, bypassing the traffic jams on the San Bernardino Freeway.

The station is set to be demolished and replaced with a new station, opening next year.

(See photo of the new station, below)


The station is round and has its own roadway onto the busway.  Riders entered from below and used stairs, an escalator, or an elevator to get to the upper level.  Originally, there were 10 berth were buses could pickup and discharge passengers.  This was later reduced to 8 when Foothill Transit started the Silver Streak line, using longer articulated buses that needed longer platforms.  The final nail in the coffin was Metro's introduction of the Silver Line, which also used buses that were longer than the platform.


The upper level consisted mainly of walkways that increasingly got crowded.  The lower level had a big plaza that was pretty much unused.  


Greyhound had a ticket office on the lonely lower level.


September 12, 2010, marked the last day of operations here.  One of the last Silver Line buses awaits departure.


UPDATE: Sunday, October 14, 2012, marked the debut of the new El Monte Bus Station. Certified LEED for energy efficiency, the new station loads buses on two levels and increases daily passenger capacity from 22,000 to 40,000...now they need to work on getting parking space for those 40,000 passengers. 

The station is the main point for Silver express service to downtown Los Angeles and beyond.  New is the fare sharing for both of the Silvers...Foothill Transit's Silver Streak and Metro's Silver Line will both use the same fare, $2.45. Either lines passes will also be honored on the other. 

Note for handicapped passengers: Foothill does not have disabled discounts during rush hours...use the Silver Line instead if you want to use a discount.


If you’re in a wheelchair, and heading to Los Angeles, your transit options got a big boost last fall. The Silver Line express bus service incorporates accessible buses that travel, for the most part, on their own dedicated roadways along the center of the 10 and 110 freeways, from the El Monte Station to Torrance. The line leaves the busways in downtown Los Angeles for several local street stops including Union Station (home to several rail lines), 7th Street Station (start of the LA-Long Beach Blue Line light rail), Staples Center, Disney Hall, Grand Central Market, and more. Full fare is $2.45. Disabled discounts are available but Metro has been criticized lately for ignoring disabled passengers needs, such as securing wheelchairs with tie-downs.



MARCH 15, 2010 UPDATE:  L.A.'s oldest public transportation, Angel's Flight, resumed service on March 15, 2010.  It was originally built in 1901, the little orange funicular tranported residents of Bunker Hill down to the shops of Downtown Los Angeles.  It was removed in 1969 when Bunker Hill was redeveloped into high-rise office buildings and put in storage.  It opened again in 1996 just south of the original site, at the back entrance to the Grand Central Market and now connects the market to the Water Court on top of Bunker Hill.  A fatal accident closed it again in 2001.  Since then, reconstruction has replaced what was faulty back then and 9 years later, here we are again.  One car is accessible.  Cost is a quarter each way.
 
March 2014 UPDATE: Again, Angel's Flight is down. one car derailed last fall and extremely shoddy maintenance and operation practices were revealed, including staff taking a branch from a nearby tree and disabling the emergency stop with it. Repairs have been made and the funicular is in testing mode now but not currently open.
The similarly named and routed Silver Streak runs basically the same route from the El Monte Station to downtown where it terminates. However, the Silver Streak…run not by Metro but by Foothill Transit instead…starts in Montclair, about 30 miles east of El Monte. The Silver Streak uses 60 passenger articulating, low-floor buses with two wheelchair anchor points on each coach. Foothill is usually a little nicer with cleaner coaches and less crowding. Full fare is $2.50 and no disabled discounts are given during rush hours.



In November, the Gold Line light rail line was extended from Union Station to the eastern edge of East LA. You now have a one-ride option from the east side of Pasadena through to East LA. Several nice areas can be accessed through this line…Old Town Pasadena, Pasadena City College, South Pasadena, downtown Highland Park, Chinatown, Union Station (with Olvera Street and Phillipe’s adjacent), Little Tokyo, Mariachi Plaza, and the many fine Mexican restaurants of East LA.


The Expo Line is now open on its first segment from downtown to Culver City, going by USC and Exposition Park along the way. The next phase of the Gold Line, extending it from Pasadena to Azusa, broke ground in June (personal note, back when Tim was on the radio he got to interview the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill extension who was none to pleased with the MTA's foot-dragging in building this line).


The Gold Line Extension is now open, going east to Glendora at Citrus College with stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, and Azusa in between.

On May 20, the Expo Line will open its next segment terminating at Santa Monica Pier (the western terminus of Route 66) marking the first light rail or subway line to reach the beach in the modern era.



These join the existing Red Line subway… going from Union Station to North Hollywood via Hollywood and Universal Studios, the Purple Line subway…Union Station to Wilshire Bl. and Western Ave. (home of the Wiltern Theater), the Blue Line light rail…from downtown to Long Beach, the Orange Line busway…running from Woodland Hills to the North Hollywood Red Line terminus (note: the Orange Line has been extended to Chatsworth), and the Green Line light rail running from Norwalk to Redondo Beach via the median of the 105 freeway.

Metrolink also runs several commuter rail lines converging on Union Station from San Bernardino, Oxnard, Oceanside, Riverside, and Palmdale.  Metrolink has had its issues too, but in general, they are very accessible and responsive to wheelchair needs.


All of Los Angeles' rail lines, stations, and bus lines are wheelchair accessible.

Next time you visit, try some of the areas transportation options.  LA’s still not a transit paradise but we’re taking baby steps out of the car and onto the rails. 


Darryl

Copyright 2009 - Darryl Musick
Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Port of Authority
Alossic under CC-BY license
Foothill Transit under CC-SA license
Justin N under CC-SA license


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