The Latest $1 Billion Rail Project Will Not Reduce L.A. Traffic, USC Says

You paid for it.

The first leg of the Expo light rail line runs from USC to Culver City and cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion. Phase II is aiming for Santa Monica as we speak. It will cost you $1.5 billion.

USC research published recently in the Journal of Planning Education and Research concludes that Phase I, which caused maddening road diversions during its construction, is "unlikely to reduce traffic congestion," according to a statement.

Researchers at the university have been working on a "big data" project, the Archived Data Management System (ADMS), in partnership with Los Angeles County Metro.

This latest study looked at some of that big data, including geo-located sensors along the 10 freeway and along nearby roads, for a three-month span. 

"These readings revealed that Phase 1 of the Expo Line had little to any impact on local street or freeway congestion," USC stated. "It did, however, initiate a significant overall rise in transit ridership across the Culver City-Downtown L.A. corridor along the Expo Line."

The findings were in line with previous research that found public transportation projects will only relieve congestion for a short time.

"Looking into the future, this study shows us how to be more realistic in what we should expect from transit," said Sandip Chakrabarti, a post-doctoral researcher at METRANS Transportation Center. "There is value in creating quality transit for those who use it by choice or by need. It improves productivity for a lot of people."

The Expo Line is marked in blue.
The Expo Line is marked in blue.
Metro

That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to contribute to the city's aim to reduce traffic by taking a train, bus or bike to work, USC says. 

"Effective transit projects can expand residential and employment opportunities," the school states, " ... while also providing access to services that are critical for lower-income people."


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