Reserving One Lane for Buses on a Major Los Angeles Blvd. is a Step in the Right Direction

Everyone can agree that Los Angeles has a long way to go before it has a world-class public transportation system.  An effective system that offers a quick, affordable option to get you where you need to go, and that can inspire even the most car-loving of us Angelenos to get out of our cars.  At times this seems like an impossible and far-fetched dream.  But this goal, like any other, can be achieved by taking steps in the right direction.  One such step is a bus lane during rush hour on Wilshire Boulevard. 

For those not familiar, Wilshire Blvd. is one of LA’s major thoroughfares.  Like its counterparts Sunset Blvd., Santa Monica Blvd., and the Pacific Coast Highway, Wilshire has been featured in many a blockbuster film and runs along some of LA’s most famous destinations.  From Rodeo Drive to the La Brea tar pits, MacArthur Park to UCLA’s Westwood village, the Beverly Hilton to the Miracle Mile, or downtown LA to the beach, Wilshire Blvd. is a critical transportation artery through the heart of LA. 

More people board the bus on Wilshire Blvd. than on any other street in LA­: 80,000 each weekday.  And some sections of the Blvd. see more cars than any other LA street: 110,000 a day.  Traffic in this corridor has steadily gotten worse over the past 20 years, slowing down both cars and buses, creating a traffic nightmare.

The only way to really fix this growing problem is to reduce the number of cars traveling this road; this requires getting people out of their cars and into a bus.  But the buses are stuck in the same traffic as all the cars.  So, you might ask, why would I take a bus down Wilshire when it would be just as slow or slower as creeping along in the traffic in my own car? 

Enter Metro[1] and its proposed bus-only lane.  During the weekday rush hour—7 to 9 am and 4 to 7 pm—one lane going each way on Wilshire Blvd. will be reserved only for buses.  This will allow the buses to fly past the car traffic.  The bus will be quicker than a car!  Soon more and more people will take the bus instead of their car because the bus will offer a reliable, quicker, cheaper way to travel down Wilshire.  

Yes, it is a small step.  Yes, it is only one street in a huge city.  And yes, it will reduce the number of lanes for cars and will initially make the remaining car lanes even slower.  But it is an important step in the right direction.  And, along with the many other steps, large and small, being taken across the city, it gets us that much closer to making LA a more sustainable, healthy place to live. 

It is important to note that even if this project moves forward, some portions of Wilshire Blvd. will not have a lane reserved just for the bus.  The section of Wilshire that goes through the City of Beverly Hills is not part of this project, and one version of the project currently under consideration also excludes a 0.3 mile section of Wilshire around Sepulveda Blvd., so as not to reduce the number of lanes available for cars in this often jammed up intersection that has busy on and off-ramps to the 405 freeway.

Metro recently released a draft of the environmental analysis required for this project (called the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment) and is holding public forums for people to make comments about it throughout the month of June.  I went to the first of these meetings earlier this week, and voiced NRDC’s support for this project.  Go to to learn more, read the draft environmental analysis, and to find out how to submit your own comments, either at a public meeting or in writing.


[1] Metro is short for the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  They plan, coordinate, design, build, and operate the bus system in LA.