Mayor Garcetti Opens Five Miles Of New Bus Lanes On Wilshire Boulevard

Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project will also have all-door boarding to decrease travel time

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and the Federal Transit Administration, along with officials from the city of L.A. and L.A. County, announced bus riders on one of the region's busiest traffic corridors will enjoy a faster commute when the second phase of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Boulevard open at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8. Riders can travel in bus-only lanes between Downtown and the Westside, saving up to 15 minutes each way.

"Because the bus has its own lane and is synched with traffic lights, it will get there faster than a car leaving the same place at the same time," said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. "In the car capital of the world, we're working to ease traffic flow and cut air pollution by giving Angelenos multiple options for getting where they need to go."

Wilshire Blvd. has more population, more jobs, more traffic, and more transit riders than any other corridor in Southern California. During peak rush hours, more Angelenos travel by bus on Wilshire than they do in cars.

Wednesday’s opening of five miles of peak hour bus lanes along Wilshire Blvd. marks Phase Two of the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. The Wilshire BRT is a $31.5 million transportation improvement project spanning from Valencia St. near MacArthur Park to Centinela Ave. in West L.A. Once completed, there will be 9.9 miles of street, signal and signage improvements and 7.7 miles of peak hour bus lanes on Wilshire Blvd. The newly opened bus lanes span from Western Ave. to San Vicente Blvd., the western border of Beverly Hills to Comstock Ave., Selby Ave. to Veteran Ave., and Bonsall Ave. to Federal Ave. During the weekday peak hours of 7 - 9 a.m. and 4 - 7 p.m., only transit buses will be allowed in the bus lanes.

The opening of the Phase Two bus lanes adds to an existing 1.8 mile stretch of peak hour bus lanes between MacArthur Park and Western Ave. that were opened in Phase One of the project. The result is a total of 6.8 miles of peak hour bus lanes along Wilshire Blvd. Of those, 5.4 miles are continuous, running from South Park View near MacArthur Park to San Vicente Blvd. The project will be completed in Fall 2015 with the opening of the last .9 miles of bus lanes between Federal Ave. and Centinela Ave. in West L.A.

“The Federal Transit Administration is proud to partner with Los Angeles to bring more state-of-the art transit options to the growing region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “Enhanced bus service along Wilshire Boulevard will make a huge difference for the thousands of Angelinos who rely on public transit to travel throughout this busy corridor—to jobs downtown, school at UCLA, medical care at the VA Hospital in Westwood, and other important destinations.”

In addition to converting curb lanes to peak hour bus lanes, other project improvements include reconstructing curb lanes along damaged segments of Wilshire Blvd., new street signage and pavement markings, selective street widening, landscaping near the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center and upgrades to the existing transit signal priority system.

Metro will also be piloting all-door boarding at key stops along the Wilshire BRT. Customers will be able to validate their fare in advance and board the bus through any door - front, middle, or rear. Boarding will be quicker, and buses won't have to stop for as long, further improving travel times.

During peak hours, drivers of passenger vehicles and trucks are subject to a citation if driving in the bus only lanes. To acquaint drivers to the concept, a short transition period is being observed during which drivers in the bus lanes may be warned. Cars and trucks turning right during peak hours may use the curbside lane as well as bicyclists.

Metro operates buses every two minutes on Wilshire Blvd. west of downtown during peak hours. There are currently 55,000 daily boardings with 50 percent of them occurring at rush hours. The average peak hour bus commutes from Valencia Street to Centinela Avenue are 62 minutes in the morning and 75 minutes in the afternoon.

The project is funded through a federal Very Small Starts (VSS) grant awarded to Metro in August 2011. The grant of $23.3 million was paired with an $8.2 million local match.

While Metro secured funding and environmental approval, the City of Los Angeles is lead on construction of the project of the segments within their jurisdiction. L.A. County led construction on a segment near the V.A. West Los Angeles Medical Center.

Prior to the project, the only bus lanes in L.A. were along Figueroa Street from Adams Avenue to 7th Street. Metro is currently investigating additional corridors that may benefit from the implementation of BRT service and related improvements.