LA’s Transit Oriented Development

Hollywood Metro Apartments

Here is a nice summary of all the mixed use/affordable housing projects that have or will be built around the subway stop at Hollywood & Western. This is exciting to me, because I used to live in this area (and likely will again soon) and would love for it to have more Mondrian-esque boxes like the complex above (which was profiled in Dwell), or to have some of the beautiful old (1912 and 1916) buildings rehabilitated. And the neighborhood needs a lot more affordable housing.

Of course, none of this would be happening without the subway, which makes it convenient to commute to mid-wilshire, downtown, or Pasadena. This provides some evidence for the subway-partisan’s thesis that the metro creates its own demand once it’s built. And it certainly seems like a wonderful way for LA to go about its inexorable growth; basically they’re using the metro to spur urban infill. Somewhere out there, a new urbanist is crying tears of joy.

However, this means that the subway is problematic as a solution to LA’s current transit problems. Sure, you create a 3 mile corridor with reduced car use and motivate a lot of people to move within that corridor, but you end up covering a small portion of the city, which is really big. So the best case scenario is that all new growth gets pushed into the vicinity of the subway, and the traffic situation elsewhere remains the same. Which sucks.

Better would be to build an above ground light rail system (at average costs of $35 million per mile, ~20% of a below-ground subway) and then build five times as many lines, blanketing the city. Then we could have a working transit system, like we did in the 1920s.

Or we could listen to the Bus Riders Union, who’s fees pay for the transit system, and expand the bus system to include much more rapid, long distance buses to operate on freeways as well as major streets. For the cost of the subway I’m sure your could have buses every 5 minutes with complimentary pupusas for passengers. Mmmmmm…pupusas.

Finally, you could take the awesome France approach and give dedicated lanes over to buses and bikes. I know it’s ridiculous to suggest that the City of the Car would ever do such a thing. But a lefty can dream can’t he?

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