L.A.'s Plan for Vermont Ave: BRT in 2024, Rail in 2067

Anyone hoping for rail transit down one of Los Angeles' busiest transit corridors will have to wait awhile.

2 minute read

March 19, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Vermont BRT

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Vermont BRT Proposed Concept 1

When Los Angeles voters approved Measure M in 2016, they provided some funding for a planned bus rapid transit (BRT) route down 12.4 miles of the very busy Vermont Avenue corridor. That project is scheduled to begin in 2024 and open by 2028, if complete funding construction is acquired before then.

Now, however, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is making plans to turn that BRT project into a light rail route in the very distant future.

"A report to be given this week to the Metro Board's Planning and Programming sheds light on how an as-of-yet unbuilt bus rapid transit line on Vermont Avenue could be converted into a rail line in the distant year of 2067," reports Steven Sharp.

The report studies rail transit as an option and comes up with three options, explains Sharp:

  • Center-running light rail transit - similar to the Blue Line - with below-grade between operations between Wilshire/Vermont Station in Koreatown and Gage Avenue, where trains would proceed to an at-grade alignment within a wide center median to 120th Street;
  • An extension of the Red Line starting at the corner of Vermont and 3rd Street, continuing south in a fully below-grade alignment to 120th Street; and
  • A standalone heavy rail line starting at Wilshire/Vermont Station and proceeding below-grade to 120th Street.

In current construction costs, these projects would require between $4.4 billion on the cheap end and $8.4 billion on the expensive end. In 2067 costs, that would be $21.1 billion and $34.7 billion.

The largest impediment to any new transit on Vermont Avenue is funding, according to Sharp. Even the BRT project only has $25 million in funding from the Measure M total.

For insight into the importance of Vermont Avenue in the Los Angeles regional transit system, see an opinion written by Alon Levy in early 2018.

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