Southern California environment news and trends

A Look at L.A.'s transit future -- plus car-free socials this week

hollhigh 1 transit

I’ve long being a fan and advocate of public transportation, but I’ve only been on Metro rail a handful of times. Why? Until this week I lived in Santa Monica, which still has no rail lines to speak of. Now, I’m a new resident of West Hollywood — and still have no Metro rail station near me! I want my subway to the sea!

Many L.A. County residents who, like me, voted an enthusiastic yes on Measure R to help fund major public transportation projects in our metropolis are similarly antsy. Attend any community meeting for the Westside Subway Extension (the last round of meetings ended late September and are available to watch online) and you’ll hear westsider after westsider get up during the comment section of the night — to wax lyrical about how much they’d love to take the subway before they retire (or die).

Those westsiders’ dreams could come true sooner than later if Mayor Villaraigosa’s 30/10 Initiative — a plan to build major public transportation projects expected to take 30 years in just 10 years by getting federal loans — becomes reality. Watch the quick three and a half minute video (with a rather ironic soundtrack, as Kevin Ferguson points out on KPCC’s John Rabe blog) to get a sense of how the 30/10 initiative could transform L.A. transit as we know it.

If that video’s lit up your imagination and made you dare dream of a traffic-jam-free life in L.A., you’ll love this next video of the LA Streetscar, hoped to connect downtown Los Angeles neighborhoods via a 4-mile streetscar line. Created by Los Angeles Streetcar Inc., a non-profit public and private partnership behind this project, the short video uses computer animation to show streetcars running on famous downtown streets.

I long for the day when I’ll be able to take the Metro red line to downtown L.A., dine at a cafe newly discovered during a stroll around the block, then hop on a streetcar to get to the doorstep of the Walt Disney Concert Hall — a breezy-sounding trip that sounds so much more pleasant than the current painful routine (fight traffic, get lost on the one-way streets, pay to park in a cavernous garage) I occasionally endure. Yes, I could take the bus — but the buses I take to get to the Concert Hall usually stop running before the show’s over.

That said, though the trip may take a little longer on the bus than on the not-yet-built subway, many places still are very much accessible by public transit — and even more by bike — right now. If you’re curious about life in L.A. outside the car — but haven’t had the courage to explore the car-free city on your own — a couple social events happening this week may just get you out from behind the steering wheel:

  • Meet the Candidates. Live in Santa Monica? Get to know the candidates running for city council while getting plugged into your local bicycling community at this event, put together by Santa Monica Spoke, the seaside chapter of the bike-friendly nonprofit Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. You’ll get to meet seven council hopefuls and ask them tough questions about bike and public transportation policies while rubbing elbows with local bicycle activists. The free event will also offer free snacks and refreshments — and of course, free bike parking! That happens tomorrow, Thu., Oct. 7 from 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm at 502 Colorado, Santa Monica.
  • Sub Pub Crawl. Put together by Westside EOW (Every Other Week), an open network group of young professionals, the Sub Pub Crawl invites all to get to know the Metro Red Line by getting to know the pubs near the subway stations. Drinking and driving don’t mix, so nix the car for this night and meet up at 1 pm on Sat., Oct. 9 in Hollywood at Dillon’s Irish Pub, 6263 Hollywood Blvd, ready to hit a string of subway-adjacent watering holes with 300 or so other Angelenos. The event’s free — but you’ll need to pay your own bus fare and bar tab.

And of course, don’t forget to play on the streets during CicLAvia on Sunday!

[via The Source]

Photo by Frederick Dennestedt/Flickr

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