Thursday, July 09, 2009

LA City Council committee: Evaluate LRT to LAX

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Los Angeles’ east-west Green Line light rail transit operation has generated ridership despite falling short (by roughly two miles) of a logical passenger generator: Los Angeles International Airport. Now a City Council committee has urged airport officials to conduct a six-month study of such a link.

"It's a no-brainer that every major airport has a rail line going into it," said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose district includes LAX.

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The two-mile proposed extension for the 20-mile Green Line is estimated to cost $200 million, likely be funded by Measure R, which Los Angeles County voters approved last fall. The half-cent county sales tax measure took effect this month and is expected to generate $40 billion for local transportation projects during the next 30 years.

Beyond funding issues, a Green Line extension now is deemed more due to the city’s recent purchase of a parking lot next to the airport that could be used as a station site.

The Green Line, costing $718 million, opened in 1995. Much of its route sits in the median of the Century Freeway (Interstate 105). Its current western terminus is at Marine/Redondo Station; a free shuttle busconnection from Aviation Station offers access to LAX.

Though direct airport access by rail has been stymied for more than a decade, weekday ridership on the line averaged about 38,301 in May. By contrast, elder sister Blue Line, serving downtown Los Angeles, averaged 80,175 during May.