Why We Favor Elevated Light-Rail Transit Over Subways...
In response to a recent letter-writer to the L.A. Times (1/12/2009) advocating more subways across L.A., it’s not NIMBYism to want the most bang for our bucks. “Patient deliberation” is especially important now in the planning of our rail transit systems because all of our local, state and federal governments teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Subways are not the only solution to traffic jams—just the most expensive. If we are ever going to construct a system to actually compete with smog-belching cars and buses, and get commuters off the roads, we can’t spend all the cash on a few miles of subways. Subways make sense in the most congested routes, where geography and density of development have made all other options impossible. But now that taxpayers made the first step to fund more rail transit in L.A. in November, it is up to our elected officials to spend it wisely. The alternative, elevated light rail, will carry more passengers many timesmore miles than more subways. Elevated light rail can use the median of existing wide streets, or when abandoned industrial rail corridors are used, the land below can be community green space that can be parkland and sites to capture and clean urban storm runoff. Elevated rail solves the problem of car crashes with trains at busy intersections, and we won’t have to worry about school children being at risk from trains at street level.
As urban planners continually tell us, Los Angeles needs to build “up” since this city has run out of land. We hear of plans for more high-rises on Wilshire Blvd., yet an elevated rail there would mar the view? Los Angeles is a beautiful city, and commuters have a right to see it, and not be relegated to an underground transit system.
--Rex Frankel, the editor
Letter to the L.A Times: The need for a comprehensive subway system in Los Angeles far outweighs the legal requirement for community input and environmental impact analysis. Our city cannot afford to waste decades debating where to lay the tracks. We deserve to have transit projects started immediately and completed on the scale of years, not generations. The hardships endured by commuters here are enough to justify the declaration of a state of emergency, which will expedite the construction of projects paid for by Measure R funds. The time for patient deliberation and NIMBYism is over.--Makan Mohageg