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Vermont Avenue Trade-Off: Bus-only lanes would speed up the ride but reduce parking

Rendering of a bus-only lane on northbound Vermont near Melrose | Metro

By BARRY LANK

East Hollywood  —  Bus riders traveling up and down Vermont Avenue through East Hollywood and beyond would have a faster trip with the creation of bus-only lanes. But that same concept,  now being studied by Metro, would eliminate street parking on many stretches of the busy roadway.

Metro is developing this idea as the $425-million Vermont Transit Corridor – a very long-term project. While bus-only lanes could be created within a decade, the goal of eventually running trains up and down the county’s second busiest transit line (after Wilshire Boulevard) would not happen until after 2067.  The environmental review that needs to be completed before anything happens is not scheduled to be finished until 2023.

The bus corridor would run 12.5 miles along Vermont, from Hollywood Boulevard on the north  to 120 Street on the south.

Metro is still debating whether the bus-only lanes would run down the center of  the street or along the edges in what are now the parking lanes. The proposal to run the lanes next to the sidewalk would mean the removal of 446-day day parking spaces — or more than 20% of existing spaces– along the entire route, according to a recent presentation.

At this point it looks like Metro officials might be leaning in favor of running the bus-only lanes next to the sidewalk on the northern two-thirds of  the corridor, which includes East Hollywood, according to Streetsblog.  Buses would travel down the center of the street on the southern portion of Vermont, which is much wider.

Both options could potentially raise ridership by 36% and improve travel time by up to 28%.

Reactions from neighborhood council members have been cautious given the long-term nature of the project and uncertainty about where the bus-only lanes will run.

Ninoska Suarez, who represents District 5 of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, said she did not know much about the project yet but was dubious. Her big concern would be if the project resulted in the loss of traffic lanes and the impact on motorists.

As for Los Feliz, Jon Deutsch of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council said that the council had not yet considered the issue.  The project would stop at the Los Feliz council boundary but it would impact getting in and out of the neighborhood, he said.

Danny Cohen, former chair of the council’s transportation and mobility committee, said he preferred if the Vermont project used the center lanes. That concept “seems like the best use of the opportunity presented,” he said.

“If this line isn’t implemented in good faith, then it won’t serve those who need it, won’t be inviting to those who could use it, and would be set up to fail,” he said.

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