English: A NABI 60-BRT coach, owned and operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Los Angeles has just opened bus-only lanes that will help decrease morning and afternoon commutes for riders and individual drivers. Developments across the city are expected to be completed by the end of this year; but for now, the lanes between MacArthur Park and Western Avenue (1.8 miles) have been altered to include transit exclusive lanes that have gone into effect today.
The eventual street plan will include 7.7 miles of bus-only lanes in congested areas on Wilshire Boulevard from downtown to Westwood. Los Angeles has put aside $31.5 million for the project and it will require modifications on 12.5 miles of road.
The Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority is attempting to increase public transportation utilization and it feels that this is the first step toward that future. These lanes will effectively alleviate traffic for buses during peak hours of commuting; and it will also help those who still use a personal car, as the buses will no longer slow the flow of traffic for other drivers with its constant stops.
The lanes will be specifically for buses on weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. Other drivers may use the lanes to make right turns; however, they will be ticketed if they remain in the lanes beyond the intersection. Metro is also working to improve the drive times by extending green light periods and shortening red lights.
The entire project expects to lower commute times for bus passengers by 12 to 15 minutes. Metro officials have found that more people travel by bus during busy hours, about 53,000 people daily on Wilshire; so the alteration will significantly improve voyage times.
There are parts of Beverly Hills and Westwood that have opposed the change so the development will have to skip them. They will receive improvements to the streets that will help traffic; but not these specific lanes. Buses will merge into regular traffic in those neighborhoods.
Though this plan appears costly, it is significantly less than those of other counties for public transportation. The plan was proposed in 2011 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and he worked hard to reserve the money for the project. The ultimate goal is to create a public transportation system that works as efficiently as those on the east coast; which will eliminate the need to drive a personal vehicle and subsequently improve traffic for the city.
Perhaps you have noticed that your morning commute was improved this morning, or you will find that you get home quicker tonight than you normally do; and it is because of the new lanes. The flow will take time to perfect, but it seems that Los Angeles city traffic will soon be less of an inconvenience for residents.