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Passengers wait for Metrolink subway trains during rush hour June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Skyrocketing gas prices are driving more commuters to take trains and buses to work instead of their cars. In the first three months of 2008, the number of trips taken on public transport in the US rose 3 percent to 2.6 billion, creating pressures on some transportation systems to cope with increasing ridership. Transit officials in southern California and elsewhere are now encouraging employers to stagger employee schedules to ease the rush hour crunch on trains and buses.
LA-Metro released its environmental report late last week on the proposed “subway to the sea,” a 12-mile extension of the Wilshire Purple Line that will cost about $5 billion. Voters approved a County sales tax in 2008 to help pay for it. But here’s the catch: if you think the subway’s going to make your drive easier, guess again. Projected population increases will all-but negate any traffic relief from people leaving their cars in favor of the subway. True, for some 100,000 riders, it will be a nice alternative, but commuters along the same route will still be stuck. Is the project worth it? And with a growing population, is traffic relief even possible?
David Meiger, Metro project manager for the Westside extension