The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently updated its plan to build a rail transit connection across the Sepulveda Pass, a busy corridor currently served by the constantly congested Interstate 405, narrowing down the options to two, including a monorail.
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board is unimpressed.
This is likely to be the biggest, most impactful transit project on the horizon for Los Angeles. It’s the most important missing link of the regional transit system, and done well, it could enable the next generation of Angelenos to work, play and travel without a car.
So why are we even considering a monorail?
The editorial lays the snark on thick—saying that monorail technology was cutting edge 50 years ago and comparing the renderings of the plan to Disneyland—but also tackles the proposal on its merits. While the project team behind the monorail proposal say the system would be cheaper and more efficient than a heavy rail alternative, the editorial board questions whether that promise can be delivered.
The editorial board also critiques a key element of the plan that is relevant to transit systems all over the county: running the new rail line in the middle of the freeway.
Haven’t we learned the fallacy of putting rail lines in the middle of a freeway? It is an unpleasant experience for passengers, who have to wait for their train on a noisy, exhaust-choked platform. And a monorail built over a 10-plus-lane freeway surrounded by buffers and surface streets would be hard for commuters to reach. The most successful transit lines drop people off close to their destinations.
A subway would be faster, more pleasant and more easily connected to other routes in the Metro system, according to the editorial.