Saturday, April 26, 2014

Regional Connector

I took a metrolink train from El Monte to Downtown L.A. for the first time today. It definitely reinforced a lot of my perception that the trains here go from nowhere to nowhere.

The El Monte station was little more than a parking lot next to a train track. It looked like there was a three story apartment building down the street and a couple blocks away there was a bunch of run down shops. Still though, that was El Monte so I didn't expect much.

Then I got to Union Station. My plan was to try to walk to see some of the new construction sites such as the Wilshire Grand Tower. I figured that the train would take me somewhere central. When I got out, I found myself at the very edge of downtown. There seems to be very little of interest actually within a half mile walk of Union Station.

That experience makes me understand why the new Regional Connector subway is so important. Most of the rail going into downtown doesn't actually go to a central location. The only exceptions I see on this map seem to be the purple and red subway lines.

That is where the regional connector comes in. The Gold, Blue, and Expo lines will have three new stations downtown. Not only that, it will be convenient to go from Long Beach all the way to Pasadena helping increase the number of destinations easily available to someone who takes the train.

Still though, a much better solution would be transit oriented development. If train stations go from nowhere to nowhere the obvious solution is to build things right next to stations. A hundred 6+ story mixed use buildings within a half mile of stations is the easiest way to transform the rail into something actually useful.