PERSPECTIVE--There is much to chew on concerning the MTA’s proposed ballot measure to add a half-cent sales tax and extend the current Measure R tax.
I’ll focus on the Valley.
Tunneling through the Sepulveda Pass to allow a rail line is apparently one of the top priority tasks, but it would not be complete until mid-century.
The Orange Line would eventually be converted into light-rail, but that is even further down the timeline. However, in the interim, a reduction in at-grade crossings will allow faster transit times. A light rail route down Van Nuys Blvd to connect the Northeast and Southeast Valley neighborhoods to the Orange Line is another piece of the plan.
As we all know too well, commuting through the pass is a nightmare during drive time (no one says rush hour anymore). But is there an effective alternative to the tunnel? A great opportunity was lost when the car pool lanes were added. They could have been busways. Perhaps they still can, with stations at both ends. No doubt a far less expensive option, but buses can’t carry the volume rail can.
The interim plan for the Orange Line might be the most cost-effective strategy on the menu. Light rail might cause over-crowding at the NoHo Red Line station. It is already a busy place; I can only imagine the mob scene on the platform as light rail discharges throngs of commuters. Ever been on an over-crowded subway platform? I have twice … and it’s pretty scary as people get antsy waiting for a train to arrive. Several years ago, MTA acted on a recommendation of mine, when circumstances dictated, to stage people at the upper levels until the train-level crowd could be absorbed. That strategy may not be as effective with light-rail feeding the station.
A busway down Van Nuys Blvd would offer most of the benefits of rail without the heavy costs.
Could we trade cost savings from alternatives to expand or improve other transportation modes in the Valley?
All of us need to seriously consider the options and express our opinions to the MTA.
Even if the measure passes, there will still be time to reconsider the plan’s components and insist on the best value for the money.
We don’t want to suffer the fate of poor old Charlie.