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OPINION -- Right-of-Way Route Faster, Cheaper, Safer, Higher Ridership, says Friends4Expo Transit

Friends4Expo Transit, the major community group supporting the Exposition Light Rail Line has endorsed the route that uses the existing railroad right-of-way from downtown LA through West Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

“The environmental study shows that the right-of-way option would be four minutes faster and 33% less costly than the Venice-Sepulveda alternative route,” says Darrell Clarke, co-chair of Friends4Expo Transit, the all-volunteer group advocating for the line. “It would also attract more ridership.”

The right-of-way route, used by Los Angeles Pacific Electric Red Cars from 1911 until 1953 and as a freight corridor until 1987, would also require far fewer property acquisitions, added Clarke.

Large numbers of Westside residents also support the right-of-way route.

“We really welcome Friends 4 Expo's endorsement of the existing right-of-way route,” said Karen Leonard, who co-chairs the community group Light Rail for Cheviot Hills.

“The line will not only increase home values, it will decrease traffic on the Westside and make it possible to reach destinations without driving and parking problems. The Expo Line cannot come soon enough!”

While the environmental impact report mentioned but did not analyze the bikeway that has long been considered a vital element of the project, Friends4Expo believes that the bikeway must be integral to the line.

“We feel strongly that the bikeway must be included in the Expo light rail project,” said Clarke. “Los Angeles has a large and growing number of cyclists. In this time of growing environmental concerns, a bikeway is crucial for supporting the curbing of greenhouse gases, and provides opportunities for commuting, healthy low-cost exercise, recreation, and tourism.”

“We have been encouraged as well with the attention Metro has paid to the landscaping of its rights-of-way along the Gold and Orange Lines and look forward to the same treatment on this corridor,” added Friends4Expo steering committee member Presley Burroughs.

Friends4Expo would like the final design to balance needs for parking with greenway preservation. The design and landscaping of the line should emphasize this goal.

Friends4Expo Transit believes that the environmental impact report shows that the right of way alternative route is safe and will cause minimal disruption and noise to nearby neighborhoods.

Formed in 2000, Friends4Expo Transit has members from every community along the proposed line, an active core of several dozen members and an email list of more than a thousand supporters.

Friends4ExpoTransit has focused on promoting an alternative to L.A.'s world-record traffic: a fast, comfortable, safe, quiet, exhaust-free, high-capacity light rail transit line — with landscaping and bike path — from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Responding to an outpouring of popular support for the Expo Line, the Metro board agreed in 2001 to pursue the project as a light rail line, rather than as a bus way.

The former Los Angeles Pacific Electric Red Car line that traveled from downtown LA through west Los Angeles to Santa Monica was called the Santa Monica Air Line, because its direct route resembled the flight of a bird or airplane.

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