LA TRANSPO - The benefits of local train stations keep giving. Living near the Crenshaw Line Westchester/Veterans Station, it is a five-minute drive to the station to park and ride the train to the Expo Line to get to Downtown Los Angeles-DTLA.
Before that Crenshaw Line station opened, to get to the Expo Line at the La Cienega, Culver City or Sepulveda Stations, the drive easily takes twenty or more minutes, then an additional five to ten minutes to park in a Metro parking structure, pay for parking and walk to the respective station.
It is five minutes to drive to the local Crenshaw Line station to board a train opposed to over thirty minutes to drive and get to the Expo Line Station platform.
At the Crenshaw Line Westchester/Veterans Station there is no Metro parking structure, so parking is on the street. The parking areas around the station is commercial in Inglewood, and a short block of limited commercial parking and then residential parking in Westchester-Los Angeles. The boundaries between the two cities is Florence Avenue, and the Westchester/Veterans Station is on the boundary line.
I try to park in the commercial areas to not disturb the neighbors close to the station. All neighborhoods near LAX are subjected to long-term street parking in front of homes and businesses by those using LAX. They are seen parking on a street, getting picked up by a taxi or rideshare, and then not seen again days or weeks later when they return to their vehicle.
Sometimes residents just see a car parked in front of their home or business for a long time and then it suddenly disappears.
In Los Angeles the maximum time limit to park on street is seventy-two hours. How well that is enforced is open to debate. In Westchester that time limit is rarely enforced which does not discourage LAX patrons from parking on the streets. Sometimes locals give warnings to those trying to avoid paying for airport parking.
At the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station, LAX employees have used that station’s Park and Ride Lot to park, and then take an LAX shuttle into the airport for their work. By doing this LAX was able to report fewer of its employees driving into the airport and its own parking lots, satisfying government requirements for a percentage of employees to not drive to their employment at LAX. But that is not an honest reduction of traffic because that station is very close to LAX.
This practice was noted and hopefully stopped. It does, however, illustrate LAX employees using Metro Train Stations parking lots which should be for Metro patrons.
Once the new LAX People Mover and the Crenshaw Line connect to take riders directly into LAX, LAX employees could use residential and commercial street parking around Crenshaw Line stations to get to their jobs at LAX without driving into the airport or its surrounding parking lots.
Patrons of LAX could use street parking near any Crenshaw Line station to park their vehicle for days and weeks to avoid paying for parking for LAX. This would put a strain on local parking for these train stations neighborhoods and would deprive parking for businesses or residential areas.
In attending general meetings on the Crenshaw Line before it opened, neighborhoods along the line raised these parking issues around their local station.
Time restricted parking is an option, but with local train stations the riding habits for the Crenshaw Line need to be addressed. The Crenshaw Line is becoming a vital line to connect to the Expo Line at Crenshaw Boulevard to head east towards USC; Exposition Park and its museums; the Coliseum; the BMO Stadium-formerly Bank of California Stadium; crypto.com Arena, and the Music Center and DTLA, or westbound to Westwood; West Los Angeles; and Santa Monica.
A round trip from the Crenshaw Line Westchester/Veterans Station to DTLA using a transfer to the Expo Line, and maybe an additional transfer to a subway, to attend a concert or sporting event lasting between two to three hours (some operas are longer), can take between four to over five hours.
If a commuter rides the Crenshaw Line to the Expo Line for DTLA, and maybe a subway ride to their employment, the time of an eight-hour workday added to the roughly two hours commute round trip adds up to ten hours.
It must be noted that the soon to be opened Metro Downtown Connector with stations in DTLA will reduce the use of using a subway to get to some locations and could save fifteen to thirty minutes. But for commuters using the Crenshaw and Lines and subway to DTLA for work the trip could take at least ten hours.
While ten hours for a workday and train commuting may seem like a large segment of time, driving to work can be nearly equivalent. Consider the timing of vehicle commuting by starting with leaving the house, driving in the gridlock of commuter hours, parking and walking to the employment site, then the eight-hour work day, and then the return drive at the end of the work day.
Using the Crenshaw Line to commute to work is another benefit of the line in addition to the train’s other important function of taking people to LAX.
If more people use mass transit instead of driving traffic is lessened, and more importantly, vehicle exhaust, a major source of planet warming carbon gases, is less.
At the Crenshaw Line stations there needs to be some mechanism to discourage long term parking for LAX patrons and employees and still make station parking available for residents of local neighborhoods.
For those not using the Crenshaw Line to LAX, two to four hours parking restrictions around the Westchester/Veterans Crenshaw Line station, and other stations, is not sufficient for the riders to attend some kind of event, or just go to DTLA for a meal, entertainment and so forth. A six-hour parking limit still cuts things close for the train rider if there are train delays, or the rider just wants to spend additional time someplace. Six-hour parking time will not support train commuting workers.
The Metro Crenshaw Line is unique because of its direct connection to the soon to be opened LAX People Mover. It is perhaps the critical rail line to try to encourage LAX patrons to not drive to LAX but instead ride trains.
The dual purposes of the Crenshaw Line of serving LAX, and serving other destinations to the east, must be considered in making certain non-LAX riders do not overwhelm street parking, and making certain local neighborhood residents have long term daily parking for the line.
Parking for the Crenshaw Line must retain its importance as a local train with local neighborhood stations for locals who would use the line to commute to work, or go to some kind of event, or go to eat, or just explore a part of town, and other places.
The cities of Inglewood and Los Angeles must come up with ways to allow neighborhoods to use their local Crenshaw Line station for parking for trips of up to, and maybe over ten hours, and not have LAX patrons and employees take over neighborhoods with their street parking.
(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found here. He is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His dedication to transit issues is to help improve the transit riding experience for all, and to convince drivers to ride buses and trains to fight air pollution and global warming. He is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College and a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.)