Behind the Scenes at the L.A. Subway

Josh Stephens illuminates the debate on subway expansion plans in Los Angeles and the forces on all sides.
August 25, 2008, 1pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"After over a decade of dormancy and a litany of mishaps, civic leaders are trying to get Los Angeles' famously chaotic public transportation scheme in order, and a focal point of these efforts is the extension of the subway to the Westside, a project whose prospects have, over the past 35 years, wavered between inevitable and unthinkable. While the city's signature industry has created entire worlds year after year, its civic leaders let dreams fall by the wayside.

'An advocacy infrastructure ... has been nonexistent except for recent times,' said Denny Zane, former Santa Monica mayor and co-founder of the Subway to the Sea Coalition, a grassroots group that is trying to fill that void. 'It's time to build the subway.'

In the face of historic opposition and mistrust of the county transit agency, forces such as Zane's are marshalling to build what might be the missing link in the region's transit system. Political will is building, public frustration is growing, and a new study has put the dreams of armchair transit planners to paper. But, like any blockbuster, this particular fantasy still needs time, deliberation, and money-in Titanic amounts."

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Published on Monday, August 25, 2008 in InTransition Magazine
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