Expo Line Phase 2: Proposed Stations
April 8, 2012
The map above shows 7 transit stations along the general route of the upcoming phase 2 of the Expo Line of Los Angele’s Metro rail system. 2 of the stations (Culver City and Santa Monica (@ 4th and Colorado) are (respectively) the currently specified beginning and end points of the new rail segment. The route between the two points has also been more-or-less decided to follow the abandoned Pacific Electric Railway, as shown below:
This route was chosen for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the input from a vocal community of local residents. Many voiced opposition to an alternate route which would have established a new right-of-way so as to serve the current demographics of the region, rather than following the path of least resistance along an antiquated route opened over a century ago.
For this assignment I decided to design my own route which connects Culver City and Santa Monica using different criteria than the “not in my backyard” route currently specified. The three criteria I used were:
- Proximity to significant locations within the area.
- Spacing of stations. Each point along the line is designed to be within walking distance miles of the nearest station, as indicated by the yellow 0.75 mile radius buffers.
- Coverage of high unemployment, to provide affordable transportation to residents who may need the transit to reach distant job opportunities. The purple map shows 2010 unemployment data, with darker purple indicating higher unemployment.
The five stations proposed, with justification for each, is listed below from east to west:
- Motor Ave: This station is proposed to meet all three criteria above. The significant location in this scenario is the density of apartment buildings and other relatively low cost housing. Many students (including Bruins!) live here, as do many young people employed in Hollywood & downtown. The location is also proximal to Overland Avenue and National Blvd, major thoroughfares on the west side. A Motor Ave station is a reasonable distance from its neighbor stations so as to meet criteria 2 as well. Finally, the large dark purple areas within the station’s buffer indicate that the station could serve a community currently suffering high unemployment.
- 10 & 405: The interchange of the 10 and 405 freeways is a very important crossroad in the area. A station placed there could serve a similar purpose as the one placed at the interchange of the 105 and the 110 freeways: a park & ride transit hub for commuters and ride-sharers. Riders could drive on either freeway to reach and board the Expo line at this station, or riders could ride the line to this station and meet a ride-share to drive either freeway.
- Santa Monica Airport: Clearly this station is chosen to serve the passengers traveling to and from the local airport. Although Santa Monica Airport is not currently a heavyweight in the region, it serves an important purpose as a relief airport for the often jam-packed LAX. Additionally, it is scheduled for a “revisioning” of its role in the community within the next few years. Access to the EXPO line could be an important part of that vision.
- Santa Monica College: As the recent protests over tuition at SMC have shown, many students at this highly-reputed community college are concerned about the costs of living and education. While an Expo station would not lower the tuition there, the addition of affordable and convenient mass transit may allow students to pinch pennies elsewhere (such as gas expenses of commuting, or rent expenses of needing to live in the costly residences close to campus). For those who do live near campus, the Expo line could connect students to internships, jobs, and 4-year universities elsewhere in LA.
- Santa Monica Pier: This proposal is much less practical, but still somewhat valid. The current termination of the Expo line is at 4th and Colorado, about a 10 minute walk from the beach. The long-awaited dream of a “subway to the sea” is thus replaced by a “light rail to the neighborhood about a half mile away from the sea”. And while there are many attractions near the station (including the 3rd Street Promenade), the allure of hopping off a train and onto the historic Santa Monica Pier would be a greater attraction for tourists who otherwise have no idea where “4th and Colorado” is. Obviously there are incredible construction and cost hurdles of building a train station literally on top of a historic beach with some of the highest property values in the state, so this proposal is more fanciful than realistic.