Los Angeles Investing in a Transit-Oriented Olympics

Ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games, Los Angeles is rallying around infrastructure buildout and technological advancement.

March 1, 2018, 9:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden

1984 Olympics

InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr

Los Angeles could see an Olympic Games that is entirely connected by transit, organizers say. At the VerdeXchange 2018 Conference in Downtown L.A., AECOM sports leader Bill Hanway announced, "In our plan, each sports park is entirely accessible by public transport. No private cars will be used at all during the course of the Games."

That vision is driven in large part by LA Metro's plan to accelerate 28 projects for the Olympics, which CEO Phil Washington told the conference is the most ambitious transportation infrastructure initiative in the country. Metro is also in talks with Elon Musk about using his tunnel-boring technology to speed up projects, Washington said.

L.A. hopes that using the Olympics as a stimulus to strengthen existing infrastructure could drive important advancements for the region, unlike in other cities where hosting ended in empty husks and copious debt. Sharing lessons from past games, the panel noted that L.A.'s last go-around, in 1984, prompted the launch of the country's first program to synchronize traffic signals.

But since the city is now in the unusual position of preparing for the games 11 years ahead of time, it must allow for the near certainty that new technologies—especially transportation technologies—will push the limits of what current infrastructure plans can deliver or even imagine.

Justin Erbacci, chief innovation officer at LAX, told the panel that the airport is planning to have not only autonomous cars, but also flying cars (a.k.a. vertical take-off and landing vehicles) in service by the 2028 Olympics. That's on top of the modernization program the airport is already undertaking, which includes an automated people mover that will connect it to Metro rail for the first time.

Read the full discussion in The Planning Report, or watch it on video.

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