Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City

By Ethan N. Elkind | Go to book overview

NINE
Switching Tracks

LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERVISOR ZEV YAROSLAVSKY wanted to stop spending money on the subway. He believed, with reason, that the subway would drain funds for cheaper, aboveground transit lines, such as a potential light rail route in his San Fernando Valley district.

Despite the Bus Riders Union (BRU) lawsuit and settlement and the dire fiscal conditions plaguing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), however, powerful leaders both on the MTA board and in Congress were loath to give up the opportunity to bring subway and light rail service to their communities. By 1998, subway expansion plans included an extension to the Eastside of Los Angeles, North Hollywood in the San Fernando Valley, and the Mid-City area, still dodging Waxman’s methane zone. Agency leaders were also committed to building the Pasadena light rail line.

But if Yaroslavsky could halt the subway, the MTA would have funds to build a number of light rail lines to serve more parts of the county, all for potentially the same price as one subway line. These light rail lines included the Pasadena line, one along Exposition Boulevard to Culver City, and another to the Eastside in place of the subway. It would also free the agency to experiment with innovative rapid bus service.

Yaroslavsky’s machinations would ultimately divide rail transit supporters and place the region on a new, more modest trajectory for bringing rapid transit to the people.

-176-

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Railtown: The Fight for the Los Angeles Metro Rail and the Future of the City
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Introduction - The Once and Future Railtown 1
  • One - An Eighteen-Month Promise 12
  • Two - The New Mulholland 34
  • Three - Bureaucratic Paper Shuffling and Jurisdictional Squabbling 50
  • Four - Henry Waxman’s Hot Air 79
  • Five - Tunnel Stiffs, Fires, and Sinkholes 101
  • Six - The Wish List 122
  • Seven - A Knife in the Seat 145
  • Eight - Of Race and Rail 158
  • Nine - Switching Tracks 176
  • Ten - Subway to the Sea 201
  • Conclusion - The Future of Los Angeles Rail and the American City 217
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 281
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