On Local Government: Green Line – Don’t build it
by Bob Pinzler
This area has needed public transit ever since we destroyed the rail system that once efficiently served this entire region. That was in the 1950s when the car became king and freeways could not be built fast enough. Now, the South Bay has some of the worst traffic in the region.
Rebuilding a transit system is a laborious process. In 2016, L.A. County voters approved Measure M, an ambitious public transit program for the next 40 years. The plans include a north-south light rail line from Hollywood to Torrance, to be built in phases, over the decades.
The first phase will be completed in the fall of 2024 when the existing C Line (formerly Green) from the Redondo Beach (Marine Ave.) station will connect with LAX. The entire line will then be renamed the K Line, allowing one-seat service from Redondo Beach to the LAX people mover, and the E Line (Expo). This would create two-seat service to Santa Monica, Culver City, USC, the Crypto.com Arena, and Downtown L.A.
The scheduled second phase is the 4.5-mile light rail line from Redondo to Torrance. Planned for decades and scheduled for completion in 2031 (not in time for the Olympics despite promises to the contrary). It has become mired in controversy over location and cost. With threatened litigation over the right-of-way alternative, this phase may end up in limbo for years.
Is there a better use of those funds? Currently down the Measure M list of priorities is the third phase: the northern extension of the K Line to Hollywood, with a projected 2047 completion date. With an expected daily ridership of more than 100,000, this third phase has garnered near unanimous support.
Would the South Bay be better served – at least initially– by flipping the timing of these two phases and implementing a dramatically shortened one-seat ride to venues such as the Dolby Theater, Museum Row, The Grove, or the Hollywood Bowl ahead of a more lightly used extension to Torrance? Going north also allows for easy connections to the D Line (Wilshire/Purple) subway, now under construction, for travel to Union Station and Westwood/UCLA.
Can we actually make this switch? Measure M itself calls for a 10-year comprehensive assessment of each project in 2026. We can begin this now, thus freeing up money to extend the K Line north to the Wilshire subway by the 2028 Olympics, and further north to Hollywood by 2031.
The Torrance phase would be deferred, hopefully to a time with greater public support once the transit benefits become more apparent and alternatives like bus rapid transit utilizing Redondo’s and Torrance’s existing transit centers can be more robustly considered.
Should Metro decide to use the Lawndale/North Redondo railroad Right of Way for the C line extension today, it is very likely that it will be held up in court for years. Perhaps a decade. Meanwhile, our transit needs will be held in limbo. Why not free up the money now and provide us with the kind of transit options that we deem necessary and valuable now?
And, who knows? Maybe we’ll end up liking the buses. ER