Metro hosts open house, presents Sepulveda Transit Corridor’s alternatives
Pictured is the Metro open house at the Westwood United Methodist Church Tuesday. The meeting discussed the Sepulveda Transit Corridor and other Metro projects. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)
Oct. 26, 2023 7:39 p.m.
This post was updated Oct. 26 at 11:00 p.m.
Students could travel from the San Fernando Valley to campus in around 12 minutes, according to Los Angeles Metro’s Sepulveda Transit Corridor presentation Tuesday night.
Around 150 community members attended an open house at the Westwood United Methodist Church on Wilshire Boulevard for three of Metro’s projects – the Sepulveda Transit Corridor, the addition of ExpressLanes on Interstate 405 and the Traffic Reduction Study. The study, which is exploring implementing tolls in West L.A. to alleviate traffic, is undergoing its initial planning stages.
The open house included a formal presentation of travel times and specific boarding data for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor’s six alternatives, as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
While travel times varied, all six rail options offered potential riders travel times of 12 to 39 minutes from Van Nuys to a stop either directly off campus or in Gateway Plaza. The quickest proposal was Alternative 6, an underground heavy rail with a stop on campus with three entrances, which would take 12 minutes to travel to Van Nuys from UCLA. All heavy rail options projected at 16 minutes or less.
Alternatives 4 and 5 – automated underground heavy rails – were the two options with the highest average projected weekly ridership. Those options were both projected to be ridden by over 120,000 passengers, almost double the ridership of the aerial monorail alternatives.
Peter Carter, a Metro project manager, said during the presentation that any of the six options for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor would be better than traveling by car during peak rush hour traffic.
“Generally, we can see improvements, benefits to those travel times by rail, and certainly an improvement in reliability with the rail options not having to compete in traffic,” Carter said.
Metro developed the ridership and travel time projections by analyzing the distribution of the region’s population, employment and higher education enrollment, including at UCLA and community colleges, said Jody Litvak, Metro interim executive director for community relations.
Among the students in attendance were members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Facilities Commission. In April, the Facilities Commission announced Westwood Connected, a campaign for a heavy rail stop on campus in partnership with Streets For All, the Westwood Village Improvement Association and the North Westwood Neighborhood Council.
Michael Griffin, a member of the Facilities Commission’s transit, equity and access committee, said he and his colleagues attended the open house to advocate for the heavy rail options and to represent the opinions of students to Metro.
“UCLA has so many people – not just students, but faculty, community members and campus employees,” Griffin said. “We as the Facilities Commission are advocating for Alternatives 4, 5 and 6, so that UCLA students in the future can have direct access to our Metro network.”
Griffin, a second-year biology student, added that student opinions are essential to counterbalance the views of community members who may oppose the project. Both the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and the Bel-Air Association have announced their opposition to heavy rail due to the impacts of noise pollution, construction and potential tunneling beneath neighborhoods.
The open house was the first of three events to inform community members about travel times and boarding data. Metro will hold additional events Saturday and Wednesday in Van Nuys and online, respectively.
Litvak said it is important for Metro to share its new findings with the public and allow constituents to digest the new information and give further feedback, adding that the public’s input is critical for deciding the future stages of projects.
“There’s a number of things that go into what will comprise the recommendation that will go to the Metro Board of Directors to decide,” Litvak said. “Some of it is the technical information, but public feedback is also a big part of it.”
Metro collected the information presented to the public as part of the environmental review process, Carter said during the presentation. He added that once this stage – the development of technical studies – is completed, Metro will release an environmental impact for public review and share its opinions before the Metro board identifies which alternative to move forward with.
Brice Kennedy, a graduate student in public policy, said he commutes to UCLA and the San Fernando Valley using the I-405, adding that while he wants Metro to build a heavy rail stop on campus, he believes the data presented also points directly to heavy rail as the best alternative for the future.
“It just seems like a no-brainer,” Kennedy said.