Los Angeles is a place of contrasts. In the span of three blocks, development can go from high rise office or condominium buildings to small apartment buildings to single family homes. In terms of transportation Los Angeles is known as a freeway covered, auto-oriented and sprawled metropolis. Outsiders, and indeed many who live in the City of Angels, formed this view behind the wheel of an automobile. Approaching Los Angeles as a pedestrian and transit rider, a new city emerges.
The title of this blog comes from the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. This intersection is a snapshot for the beauty and dysfunction of Los Angeles. Hundreds of thousands of transit riders on the Metro Red and Purple Line subways and 720 and 754 Rapid Bus lines converge on this small square of land. It’s oddity is striking: Wilshire and Vermont are hugged by a Shell gas station, the Wilshire State Bank high rise, a vacant lot and the Wilshire/Vermont Subway station and Transit Oriented Development. There is something magical about that corner.
In the last twenty years, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has built over 90 miles of light rail, busway and heavy rail subway. Metrolink has opened over 500 miles of commuter rail and bus ridership has soared to over one million riders per day. These accomplishments are amazing, but there is much to be done to transform Los Angeles into a true transit city. Measure R, a sales tax for transportation, will help but over the next 30 years Los Angeles will see a pace of transit expansion that does not come close to matching the last 20.
That is where Wilshire/Vermont comes in. We are here to advocate the advancement of Measure R projects, follow their progress, and comment on their design. Beyond Measure R and Los Angeles, we follow transit around the nation and will often cover other cities and systems. All of our contributors are college students at the University of Southern California, so expect coverage of different areas between May and August. Following are quick bios of contributors.
Thanks for reading.
Karl just finished his Sophomore year at the University of Southern California as a civil engineering major and jazz studies minor. He hails from Albany, California where he has ridden transit and a bicycle his entire life. His interest in transportation planning began with BRIO trains as a five year old and continues to this day with his pursuit of a career in transportation planning and engineering. He worked on the Transbay Transit Center Program during the summer of 2010, learning the ropes on the largest in-construction transit project in California. This summer, he is working as a civil engineering and transportation planning intern in San Francisco. Karl also plays jazz saxophone with the band Down to Funk and rides road and mountain bikes competitively for the USC Cycling Team.
Sam will fill out this bio at some point.