If proposed changes to the Eagle Rock/Highland Park DASH route move ahead as planned, there will be no bus service of any kind operating along Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51. Instead, Eagle Rock Boulevard will be the primary north-south connection between Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard. At yesterday’s public hearing in Glassell Park, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) explained why they proposed cutting Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51 and their reasons can be summarized as follows:
- The computer modeling they used to analyze routes identified Townsend Ave/Ave 51 corridor as a weak spot
- LADOT Transit wants to compete with Metro-provided service
- DASH stops on Eagle Rock Boulevard and York Boulevard would better serve Occidental College
- The Department feels there is greater ridership potential on major commercial boulevards such as Eagle Rock Boulevard.
In theory, this rationale make sense but here are 3 reasons why we believe the Eagle Rock/Highland Park DASH should stay on Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51 rather than be moved to Eagle Rock Boulevard:
1. Removing transit from Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51 will create a 1.5mile+ gap in north-south connections between Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard.
Most people will not ride public transit unless it is a viable alternative to driving. When driving in a car, people have 3 primary choices for connecting between Colorado Boulevard and York Boulevard. The options are: North Figueroa Street, Townsend Avenue/Avenue 51, and Eagle Rock Boulevard. Each connector serves specific needs. Removing Townsend Avenue/Avenue 51 as a transit corridor will make north-south bus service less direct for those who live along Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51, and thus less convenient. This will limit public transit’s ability compete with car use as a viable means of transportation because it will force a less direct route for the trips that are preferably made along Townsend Avenue/Avenue 51.
2. New route provides nothing new.
It might be reasonable to remove Townsend Avenue/Avenue 51 if some other connection is gained in exchange, but this is not the case. The proposed rerouting would run the DASH east-west along York Boulevard, which is already served by Metro’s 83 line. The York Boulevard corridor will also be served by a new Glassell Park-Highland Park DASH route. If the plan moves ahead as proposed, there would be 3 bus lines (Metro 83, and 2 DASH routes) operating along much of York Boulevard. Then along Eagle Rock Boulevard the DASH would replicate service already provided by Metro’s 28 and 181 line. In effect, the new route provides no new connections while removing one which has potential to be stronger. When LADOT stated their justification for removing Townsend Avenue and a portion of Colorado Boulevard, they tried softening the blow by reminding us that Metro’s 180 serves Colorado Boulevard already. Well, why do they want to duplicate service along York Boulevard and Eagle Rock Boulevard? Both streets will have 3 different bus lines operating along them if the proposed changes move forward. Between the Eagle Rock Plaza and the intersection of Yosemite Drive/Eagle Rock Boulevard, the DASH would mimic Metro’s 181 line completely! And between the intersection of Eagle Rock Boulevard/York Boulevard and the Eagle Rock Plaza the route would mimic Metro’s 28 line! The “ridership potential” LADOT projects with the new line would likely “steal” more existing Metro riders than generating new riders.
3. Providing public transit for high school students is more important than serving Occidental College students.
Among the reasons LADOT gave for the proposed route change was that the Department felt Occidental College would be better served as a result. In doing so, the Department would abandon the service it is providing to Eagle Rock High School and Renaissance Arts High School. Whereas high school students often have no choice but to ride the bus, students at Oxy have plenty of transportation options, including: bike-share, car-share, and a free shuttle that will take students just about anywhere. Also, 60% of Occidental College students own cars and are provided free parking on-campus. The 40% that don’t own cars are probably more likely than a high school student to use ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft or simply carpool with a friend. If the DASH is rerouted, a typical Oxy student would still need to walk at least quarter of a mile from the on-campus dorms to get to the nearest DASH bus stop. Given the buffet of convenient transportation options Oxy students are provided, it will take a lot more than a quarter-mile walk to entice them onto the DASH when they have so many options without leaving campus.
Call to Action
If you want to keep bus service on Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51, please take a minute to send an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Let LADOT know it is critical to preserve public transit access along this north-south corridor. Below is a sample letter you can use when emailing your support for keeping service on Townsend Avenue/Avenue 51:
Dear Philip Aker,
I am opposed to removing LADOT DASH service on Townsend Avenue and Avenue 51. This north-south corridor provides unique connections and access that are not served by the county’s Metro system. Also, this segment of the DASH is critical for students going to and from Eagle Rock High School, Franklin High School, and Renaissance Arts High School.
The proposed rerouting is redundant because Eagle Rock Boulevard is already served by Metro’s 28 and 181 line, and York Boulevard is served by Metro’s 83 line. In fact, between the intersection of Eagle Rock Boulevard/Yosemite Drive and the Eagle Rock Plaza, the proposed DASH service would be identical to Metro’s existing 181 line. Also, between the intersection of Eagle Rock Boulevard/York Boulevard and the Eagle Rock Plaza, the route would be identical to Metro’s existing 28 line. Between York Boulevard/Avenue 54 and Eagle Rock Boulevard/York Boulevard, the proposed rerouting would be identical to Metro’s existing 83 line. We need the DASH to complement, not duplicate, Metro service.
[YOUR NAME and ZIP CODE]