Our Dream ‘Infill’ Metro Stations, From the Arts District to the Hollywood Bowl

We may get a new stop on the Green Line, but there are other areas crying out for rail

L.A. County voters will decide in about three weeks whether to pass Measure M, which would bump up sales taxes by a half-cent and generate $860 million for transportation projects. If passed, Measure M would provide funds for a new light rail line between DTLA and Artesia, offering service through transit-dependent neighborhoods and cities like Paramount, South Gate, and Bellflower. It would also cross the Green Line and add a new station on that currently-operating route, near Plaza Mexico in Lynwood.

The addition of a new station on an existing line—typically called an infill station—is a fascinating development for Metro since they’ve so rarely built them before. Maybe most notably, Metro added the Farmdale station to the above-ground Expo Line, but only because of community concerns over student safety at nearby Dorsey High School. No one’s complaining about having an extra station, though Farmdale is only lightly patronized and stopping there adds time to the already-lengthy crosstown journey.

The next infill station coming to Metro is near LAX at Aviation/96th, which will be added to the under-construction Crenshaw Line. This stop is necessary to connect with the forthcoming People Mover, which will allow folks to access the terminals sans cars. Though Aviation/96th is a short walk from another station already planned, the PM could only connect at 96th Street. Oh well.

Maybe the most desired L.A. infill station is one Metro’s long floated—a subway station (or two) in the burgeoning Arts District in DTLA. Red and Purple Line trains already stop in the AD, en route to their maintenance facility. All Metro would have to do is build an above-ground station to accommodate riders. Metro is currently studying the option of adding stops at 1st Street and 4th Street, right where the L.A. River bumps up against downtown. While the route would require a dog-leg through DTLA, it would allow Arts District denizens to easily access Hollywood, Koreatown, and eventually Beverly Hills and Westwood when the Purple Line is extended.

The under-construction Regional Connector initially included a station at 5th and Flower streets, in the heart of the Financial District, but it was scrapped for financial reasons. Transit officials felt it was redundant with the 7th Street station a few blocks away. While it’s not the end of the world, a station at 5th/Flower would have provided quick access to the Central Library, the U.S. Bank Tower, and the Bonaventure Hotel. There’s always a chance that money could be found at a later date (much later) and a station be dug out.

How about an infill stop at the Hollywood Bowl? Early planning for the Red Line actually included a station here. It would be sweet to be able to pop up at will-call instead of trudging up from the Hollywood/Highland station or (gasp) driving into the stacked parking nightmare. But since the Bowl is only really active during the summer, and is served by multiple buses, this infill station will likely never happen.

Another long-shot station, but one that would benefit many, is an additional Expo Line station at Barrington or Sawtelle. It’s a long walk between the two existing stations of Sepulveda and Bundy and there are numerous destinations between them (Sawtelle’s Japanese village, a thriving restaurant corridor on Pico Boulevard). The problem with adding a station here is that this section of West L.A. is jumbled, crowded, and dense, with the rail line skirting below the 405 and above Pico. In other words, it would be an engineering disaster. Forget it Jake, it’s Japantown.