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1950s Los Angeles Thought About Putting Buses Underground

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Today in further unlikely transit proposals, Metro's Primary Resources blog brings us the wonderful tale of the bus subway. Following a 1953 report by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Traffic Association about express buses on freeways, a 1954 supplement (link goes to a pdf) considered ways to get workers from the freeways into the central business district (bounded by Figueroa, then-Sunset, Los Angeles, and Pico). Arcades were deemed too expensive, the law was murky on the city creating dedicated bus lanes, and elevated roadways built in alleyways was decided untenable. The report even considered reinstating the staggered business hours of World War II. But ultimately it seemed quite pleased with the idea for "realizably cheap vehicular underground passages, namely bus subways."

The subways would go north-south on Hill and Spring, and east-west on First, Fourth, Seventh, and Olympic. The report even suggests a construction plan and says the excavated dirt could be used to fill in the embankments of the then-Olympic Freeway (now the Santa Monica Freeway). Cost for the project was approximated to be "on the order of" $40 million. If the plan were to be built, the report also recommended as "integral" pedestrian underpasses at intersections and connecting to the subway stations, "mid-block overpasses with escalators (speedwalks) at selected locations, and overpasses with 'up' escalators and 'down' stairs at other selected intersections."
· The 1954 Plan For Los Angeles' Underground Bus Network (Yes, Underground!) [Primary Sources]