In an action-packed meeting Thursday, the Metro Board of Directors initiated a study of a possible extension of the Red Line subway south beneath Vermont Avenue all the way to 125th Street in West Athens.
The study resulted from a motion by Directors Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Jaqueline Dupont-Walker. It came as the board reviewed preliminary plans for a rapid bus route that would travel along Vermont between 120th Street in the south to the Red Line station at Sunset Boulevard in the north.
Right now, Metro is considering four different options for dedicated bus lanes on the street, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. But Garcetti suggested that a rapid bus system might not be ideal for the busy thoroughfare, which, he pointed out, is the second-most-ridden corridor in the city, behind Wilshire Boulevard.
Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl agreed, pointing to the success of the Vermont Avenue stretch of the Red Line as evidence that a southern extension would be viable.
Currently, the Red Line travels between North Hollywood and Union Station, making four stops on Vermont along the way. If the line was extended south, it’s unclear whether some trains would continue east toward downtown after stopping at the Wilshire/Vermont station.
If Metro should decide to move ahead with a heavy rail option beneath Vermont, the project would be constructed in multiple phases. The motion calls for the first phase of the project to connect the Wilshire/Vermont station to the Expo Line stop at Vermont and Exposition.
Funding for either a bus or rail project would come from Measure M, under which work on a Vermont corridor project is scheduled to begin in 2024. Metro staff will evaluate the subway option and report back to the board in July.